Who Dares Wins

This is a daft but fun action flick about a plot conceived by a radical group of pretentious anti-nuclear protestors. Their insane plan leads to a raid on the American Embassy and since it sits on British soil the SAS are called in to resolve the situation. The story line is undeniably silly but there are a few entertaining moments along the way and the grand finale is a beautiful example of why the SAS have such a great reputation.

This was released back in 1982 and also goes under the name The Final Option. It was inspired by the Iranian Embassy siege which ended when the SAS stormed the building and rescued the hostages. It was adapted from a book by James Follett and directed by Ian Sharp.

Collins as Skellen in Who Dares Wins

Who Dares Wins focuses on a tough SAS captain called Peter Skellen, played ably by Lewis Collins who followed this up by taking on the role of Bodie in the long running TV series, The Professionals. He is booted from the service for treating a couple of foreign visitors roughly as part of their training. Cover established he infiltrates a group of middle class radicals determined to halt the threat of nuclear war. Using his sacking from the SAS as a kind of double bluff he seduces Frankie Leith (Judy Davis) and she quickly admits him to the inner circle. The rest of the gang are understandably irritated but Frankie insists on including him despite the mounting evidence he is working undercover.

The terrorist group call themselves The People's Lobby and they are training up to seize the American Embassy during an important meeting which will also allow them to hold a number of senior figures hostage including Secretary of State Arthur Currie (Richard Widmark). Their plan is full of holes and the ultimate aim is laughably ridiculous.

The motivations and actions of the idealistic terrorists never ring true and Skellen has more than a touch of Bond about him. Despite the weak storyline the direction and acting pull it along and it makes for an enjoyable couple of hours. Picking holes in the terrorist plot is part of the fun. The portrayal of the SAS is a bit better although, while the end result may reflect reality, some of the sequences are hardly authentic.

Collins as Skellen in Who Dares Wins

Direction from Ian Sharp was mostly businesslike but there were a couple of nice touches. The SAS trooper storming in with a camera view from inside the gas mask, and the sudden raid in the house, both spring to mind. He certainly built a decent sense of tension towards the end and indeed the final half hour of the film is definitely the highlight.

Lewis Collins is pretty cheesy as Skellen but it was a performance I couldn't help enjoying. Judy Davis managed to lend her rather unbelievable character a convincing air and was especially good in the final few scenes. The supporting cast really helped elevate the production and turns from Richard Widmark as the US Secretary of State, Edward Woodward as Commander Powell and Maurice Roeves as Major Steele were all good.

This is pure action escapism and the Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is top quality and worth seeking out.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

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