The ‘70s were an era of gritty crime dramas in which gritty geezers, with implausible accents, carried out acts of random violence on even grittier geezers, with even more implausible accents. TV’s top shows were the likes of The Sweeny and The Professionals–and Who Dares Wins is cut very much from the same cloth, apart from being based on a true story.
Formed in 1941, even today the Special Air Service (SAS) remains a little-known organisation, famed for their gruelling and highly-selective recruitment process. In fact, until the 1980’s the only people likely to have heard of the British Army’s elite unit were military history buffs.
All that changed in 1980, when the SAS were involved in a dramatic, televised rescue of a group of hostages who were being held in the Iranian Embassy in London.
Remarkably, Who Dares Wins producer Euan Lloyd lived near the Embassy and, as the SAS stormed the building, he decided to pop over and watch. As soon as it ended, Lloyd phoned his lawyer registering several titles for films about the SAS including Who Dares Wins—which is the SAS’s motto. Even more remarkably, the film’s star, Lewis Collins, did apply to join the Territorial SAS, but was rejected because of his celebrity status, despite passing the entrance test.
Who Dares Wins is a real mixed-bag of a film, with some truly terrible dialogue, questionable plotting, and unabashed Thatcher-era sabre-rattling, offset by roaring action sequences and an oh-so-cool score from Jazz supremo, Roy Budd. That the film’s admirers include Ronald Reagan won’t surprise anyone. Learning that Stanley Kubrick was also a fan may stretch your credibility—if not skew your entire world view. But, you know what? Despite everything, Who Dares Wins is a perfectly watchable romp, if all you want is lots of British gumption and some brain-candy nostalgia.
Who Dares Wins is out now on DVD and Blu-ray in an Uncut Special Edition with a fold-out double-sided artwork poster by the legendary Graham Humphreys.
Audio Commentary from Producer Euan Lloyd and Director Ian Sharp with Jonathan Sothcott.
The Making of Who Dares Wins’- The Electric Theatre Show.
The Last of the Gentleman Producers.
Fold-Out Double-Sided Graham Humphreys Artwork Poster.