Before Arnie came bursting through the door in Predator, sardonically saying “Knock, knock”, another man mountain nicknamed ‘Duke’ did exactly the same thing but with a little more panache. These first scenes set in Chicago at a money counterfeiter’s warehouse or a ‘paper hanger’ as he’s called in the movie, introduces John Wayne’s Dirty Harry clone Brannigan, a no-nonsense cop that lets nothing stand in his way when taking down the bad guys.
All very clichéd and all very “did I fire six shots or only five?”
That’s when this story’s backdrop abruptly shifts to new territory, the great City of London, a dirty and tired looking 1975 London. This is ‘The Sweeney’ TV show on the big screen with seedy pubs, underground hoods and a very grey unpainted Tower bridge of which we will revisit later.
The well-executed action sequences include the afore mentioned pub brawl with the legendary Wayne throwing his famous fake punches, a memorable car chase through Battersea’s Shaftesbury Estate and central London then culminating in a jump from one side of the Thames to the other using a very iconic and unpainted half raised bridge.
Many well-known actors pop up in cameos like Brian Glover, Lesley Anne Down and Tony Robinson. Yes our very own Bladrick has his spot in the limelight with Marion Morrison albeit a rather wet one.
With lines like “Right now I’d like to get my hands in Larkin’s lapels” and “Well the view from the bridge was terrific” (feel free to repeat these with the Dukes famous twang) Wayne gives a sterling performance even though ill health was already plaguing him.
This movie also has for me a great but probably overlooked (by many) performance by Sir Richard Attenborough. Swann’s yin to Brannigan’s yang entertains with every scene and even though he has to conform to the 1975 Americans ideal of the typical English upper class, with a stiff upper lip and the strict dress code rules enforced for his Gentleman’s Club, to me there is always a little twinkle in Richard’s eye saying lets have some fun with this and please "Have the Dover sole."