Looking Back – The Wild Geese and Who Dares Wins
Next week sees the Blu-ray release of two classic British War flicks, Scott takes a look at these two gems.
In stores from Monday 8th October from Arrow Video, Wild Geese and Who Dares Wins are rolling onto Blu-ray in a big way. When the opportunity came up to see these films that remind me of being a boy and wanting to be a soldier (obviously that was before I discovered girls and alcohol) I just had to get involved!
A film by Andrew v. McLagen
Starring Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris
Wild Geese is an old-fashioned adventure film about mercenaries set amongst political strife in Africa. Filled with plenty of exciting action The Wild Geese delivers in spades.
The film follows Col. Faulkner, played by Richard Burton, who is hired to fly into ‘Zembala’ in Africa to rescue deposed President Julius Limbali. Limbali is thought to be dead but is actually being held in a remote prison. After recruiting a team made up of Shawn Fynn, Rafer Janders and Pieter Coetze, played by Roger Moore, Richard Harris and Hardy Kruger respectively the team (which also consists of about 50 others) is trained up and in a flash parachuting into Africa.
The film follows the tried and tested WAR film mold of – Male Bonding, Detailed Briefing, Double Crosses, military stereotypes and ear shattering shootouts. Even though we have seen this formula many times before (and after) The Wild Geese does well in keeping our interest focused on the tasks at hand by building the momentum and leading to some terrific set pieces.
The script is razor-sharp and clearly verifies the Mercenaries motives for doing the job; some for money to support their high living lifestyle, while others are aging career soldiers looking for one last big adventure. Also it is nice that the film does not condone nor glorify the mercenary lifestyle.
Obviously the joy with a film like this is to see so many British and Irish film greats on the same screen at the same time. Burton is excellent as the thinking mans soldier. It is rumoured that he and Richard Harris were banned from drinking whilst the film was being shot, as per the instructions of the insurance companies. But that doesn’t stop their characters from drinking copiously on-screen, and their chemistry in the film is a pleasure to watch.
Interestingly, this film was released right in the middle of Roger Moore’s seven film run as James Bond, and does extremely well in avoiding any comparisons to the famous character with an extremely grim introduction to Shawn Fynn.
The Wild Geese may be a film from a long-lost era, pre 9/11. But it is a solid ensemble piece with some fantastic performances. Great fun and gritty.
FRC Rating 4/5
A film by Euan Lloyd and Ian Sharp
Starring Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Richard Widmark, Tony Doyle, John Duttine, Kenneth Griffith, Rosalind Lloyd, Ingrid Pitt, Norman Rodway, Edward Woodward, Robert Webber
Who Dares Wins is one of those movies that can easily be put under the guilty pleasure heading. It is gritty and raw and makes up for its rough edges with flair and an extremely well staged action climax.
Lewis Collins, who is famous in UK for starring in the TV show The Professional (also my mum fancied him, just saying), stars as Captain Skellan, a british soldier in the S.A.S who infiltrates a radical group of anti-nuke activists who have the intention of carrying out a terrorist act on American dignitaries.
Skellan manages to seduce the terrorist’s idealistic leader, played by Judy Davis, by pretending to be a disgraced special forces soldier looking for payback. The rest of the group is skeptical of Skellan’s story, but he manages to avoid their suspicion long enough to find out their plot, but not to prevent it. This sets up to the highlight of the film – SAS storm the building to waste the baddies.
Who Dares Wins was inspired by the real life events in UK where the SAS had to storm the Iranian embassy to rescue hostages being held by terrorists back in 1980. I remember these events clearly from when I was a boy and watch the images of the soldiers absailing down a building with great interest as a child. The film was rushed through production so as not to be beaten to the story by another production. Because of this rush there are problems with the film, the story is anemic and the dialogue is often silly and nonsensical. But beneath these problems there is a good old-fashioned cold-war espionage movie in there, and there is no denying the brilliance of the action set pieces.
A lot of the power in Who Dares Wins comes from the supporting cast, Edward Woodward is a highlight as was Davis’ curious villain. Collins is the centre of the film though and interestingly auditioned for James Bond in the same year this was made but was deemed far to aggressive for Bond, I think he may fair a little differently if he was judged on todays standards. Here he is believable and exudes dangerous magnetism and a serious bad-ass.
Who Dares wins is cheesy but also is pure vintage gold. A must for any WAR movie fans
FRC Rating 3.5/5
The Wild Geese and Who Dares Wins are released on Blu-ray on 8th October by Arrow Video