Who Dares Wins (1982)
After watching television coverage of the SAS raid on the London Iranian Embassy in 1980, enterprising British producer Euan Lloyd registered the regimental motto of “Who Dares Wins” as a film title. The covert operations of the Special Air Service naturally lent themselves to cinematic interpretation as did the topical nature of their embassy siege. Lloyd, a veteran producer with several solid action movies under his belt (The Wild Geese, The Sea Wolves), then got busy casting trying to find an action hero who could star in the film and launch a possible franchise. It was no chance that role went to actor Lewis Collins, star of the TV series The Professionals.
Collins, who had at one point been a contender for the role of Bond, was taken by Lloyd to the same barber and tailor that Sean Connery had used and was then marketed as the new British lead man and action star. The production received a deal of media coverage and looked to be a box office hit. Sadly despite the success of Who Dares Wins in the UK market, it failed to do well in the US, where it was released under the title of The Final Option. Attempts to secure funding for a sequel failed and the project inevitably stalled. Collins subsequently left the UK and gained success in the Europe with a string of international action films, such as Codename: Wild Geese and Commando Leopard.
The script by Reginald Rose was loosely adapted from James Follet's novel, "The Tiptoe Boys". It also draws heavily on the TV footage of the Iranian embassy siege, which caused quite a stir at the time. The central characters and the political subtext are somewhat clichéd and the subject of unilateral disarmament is explored in a heavy handed fashion. The terrorists are stereotypical with a clichéd revolutionary ideology and the politicians also two dimensional. The "skinheads" that appear and disrupt a benefit concert are possibly the most implausible ever depicted. The cast of British character actors such as Edward Woodward and Kenneth Griffith do their best with the leaden script.
Fortunately the military aspects of the story are very credible and manage to save Who Dares Wins from utter disaster. Training with live ammunition, survival exercises in Wales and exchange projects with other special forces from allied countries are all based in fact. The action scenes, particularly the climatic raid on the Embassy are accurately staged, by veteran Bond Stunt co-ordinator Bob Simmons. For example the SAS do not shoot the locks off the door, but the timber around the hinges. Details such as the staircase shootings and the curtains set alight by the thunder flash explosion are based in fact. There are several hand to hand fight scenes that are also well staged using credible techniques.
Who Dares Wins is a fine companion piece to Euan Lloyd's other famous action film The Wild Geese, as they share many similarities. Both have a somewhat naive grasp of geo-politics, a plethora of British character actors struggling with an overcooked script and finely crafted action scenes. Who Dares Wins also sports a solid score by British Composer Roy Budd. There is also an excruciating concert scene which features Jerry and Marc Donahue, as the band Metamorphosis. The song “Right on Time” is not that bad but when you consider the music of the decade and the bands associated with such organisations as CND, it feels somewhat out of place. Ultimately this and many other flaws actually add to the peculiar charm of the movie. Who Dares Wins is far from an accurate dpiction of events but it does make for enjoyable post pub viewing.