Archive | April, 2014

Interview – John McCarthy

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Interview – John McCarthy

Posted on 30 April 2014 by Chris Ford

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

The Railway Man tells the true story of a former British Army officer Eric Lomax, who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.

John McCarthy who was famously held captive himself in the 80s in Lebanon is a big fan of the book the film is based on and knew Eric Lomax personally. John kindly sat down with me to discuss the film this week.

How did you first become aware of Eric Lomaxs story?

I met Eric through a charity in London that helps torture survivors that we were both involved with, I became involved after my experiences as a hostage in Lebanon. It was amazing meeting this lovely old man who at this point was in his 80s tall very elegant with a very very soft Scottish accent, you really couldn’t believe this man had witnessed something so nasty in the past.

We talked shared experiences, I was this much younger man with this fresh experience and we just talked about what it was like for us both, his experience putting what happened to me massively in perspective, I thought fuck mine was bad but child’s play compared to what happened to this man!

If You didn’t know Erics story was true doesn’t it almost seem like a Hollywood tale?

Yes exactly, reminds me of that old line, the truth is stranger than fiction! And it is. Although Hollywood now would most likely have Eric throw his nemeses off the bridge at the end!

Its an extremely well made film and of course starring Firth and Kidman they are big names so people will hear Erics story through them and that’s great because not only are the performances great its such an important subject and I don’t just mean the Japanese treatment of the British and Australians which is clearly terribly important but more so understanding what torture is and what it does to people and of course the people that perpetrate it .

Your own story has been portrayed twice in film, once by Colin Firth in Hostages and again by Linus Roache in Blind Flight , were you happy with how your story was portrayed in both cases?

Yes although less so with Colin Firth in Hostages not disappointed with his performance at all but that film came out very soon after my release and I wasn’t involved with it at all so you cant really be telling my story when I haven’t even come to terms with it and it was before I wrote my book. With Blind Flight I worked on that with Brian Keenan and actually ended up becoming very close with Linus and still am, that film really did it for me I was involved with it so I was very confident on how we put the script together and the production.

Do you think The Railway Man film is a good translation of the book?

They have done a great job obviously theres a lot of flash backs which isn’t the way the book is written but they had to do that really to highlight things to get through it in time , what they do show is a man curiously devastated , we meet him on the street and think whats wrong with that old boy you know? But hes obviously totally fractured as Patti Nicoles character discovers.

In The Railway Man Lomax eventually had his chance at revenge and ultimately chose forgiveness, do you think you could be as forgiving given the same opportunity to confront your captors’?

I’ve talked about this with Brian before, it depends which guard it was really, we were abused by one or two of the guards holding us over the years, obviously the whole situation was horribly abusive you know chained up and kept in terrible conditions but in fact only a few of the guards really took advantage of that totally control they had of the situation to take it further, push and explore what the weird elements of their mind wanted to do to us and I would say that was limited to four people out of maybe forty. You have to remember most of those guys were in their early twenty’s and most of their lives had been dominated by civil war but by on large they still had a bit of humanity left in them so they didn’t seem to abuse us beyond what they had to. If one of those guys came up to me Id like to think Id be able to just shake hands, if it were one of the bad guys I don’t know what Id want to do Id hope I’m mature enough and over it by a long way to shake hands and keep moving I don’t think Id want to hit them but I certainly did when I was locked up, I would have loved to reverse roles.

People ask me do I forgive them? Well not really, I don’t have the desire or a need to, Im free and they have moved on in their world and hopefully they have all had productive lives. For Eric it was clearly very different as his life had been totally blighted by that, I was encouraged to tell my story it was totally another world for Eric , men didn’t talk about and that the fact that they had been prisoners at all wasn’t quite right you know? Where as I was a hero apparently.

Many journalists have been captured and sometimes killed while reporting in dangerous parts of the world, what is your position now having experienced being held against your will, do you think the danger is worth it for the story?

From my point of view I am wary now of going to hot war zones, Im in the middle east a lot but Im not going to Damascus this week or Bagdad which is getting violent again. I do think its important we get information on what is going on in those places as so often our governments will be involved in whats going on and making decisions on our behalf , so for the public to be informed about that is terribly important.


What do you think of the recent rise in Bloggers reporting from the front line in places like the Ukraine, good idea for free speech or should they leave it to the professionals?

I think its important that we trust our news sources so a blogger is a incredibly valuable news source if you can understand their background, its like the BBC operates on three sources to confirm everything which slows down news but ensures its credible.


Your fellow hostage Brian Keenan said upon release “I’m going to visit every country in the world, eat all the food of the world, drink all the drink of the world and, I hope, make love to every woman in the world. Then I might get a good night’s sleep” did you have similar ambitions of your own, if so have you fulfilled them?

Probably yeah but the most important thing about that is the last line of that about a good nights sleep, that’s what I would actually like most of all is to lay down and not wonder where I am in the world and if I’m safe but yes I think those ambitions sum up what one wants to go with their liberty.

The Railway Man is out on Blu-Ray and DVD from May 5th which you can order from Amazon here

I would also thoroughly recommend John McCarthys book about his experience ‘Some Other Rainbow’

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Game of Thrones Locations

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Game of Thrones Locations

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Chris Ford

Excited that Game of Thrones is back on our screens today? well why not relive the locations used in the TV show, below we have broken down for you the best of them :


Take a wander through the streets of King’s Landing with a break to Dubrovnik in Croatia. The dragon skulls may be long gone, but the castle, walls and ancient, winding passageways will ensure you never tire of visiting this enchanting seaside town.

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5* Dubrovnik holiday: Valamar President Hotel, Croatia
From £730 / per person for 7 nights (saving £399 per person)

Offer includes seven nights in a Twin room with balcony, buffet breakfast, a full day Dubrovnik excursion, return flights from your selected departure airport to Dubrovnik and shared transfers.
Book by 13th April 2014. Available select dates June to October 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


Follow in the footsteps of Daenerys Targaryen in the High Atlas Mountains, the stunning backdrop for her passage to the narrow sea.

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Kasbah Africa: Atlas Mountains, Morocco

From £96 / per suite per night (saving £41 per suite)

Offer includes accommodation in a Suite (minimum two-night stay required), Moroccan buffet breakfast, complimentary mint tea and coffee during your stay, mineral water and fruit in your room, guided walk along Azzaden Valley to Tassa Ouirgane Berber village and complimentary hire of personal binoculars and telescope.
Book by 13th April 2014. Available select dates April 2014 to February 2015. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


Roam north to the land beyond the wall, Iceland, and witness for yourself the striking wilderness and the magical northern lights. Unwind in steaming thermal pools surrounded by snow and experience what life might have been for the Night’s Watch in some of Reykjavik’s many museums.

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Iceland wellness break: Reykjavik Lights, Reykjavik
From £542 / per person for 4 nights (saving £217 per person)

Offer includes four nights in a Superior room, breakfast, welcome drink on arrival, complimentary three-day access to Laugar spa, gym and pool area, Golden Circle tour, Blue Lagoon Experience Comfort Package Tour (including admission, towel and bathrobe rent, Drink in the lagoon Bar & volcano scrub or algae mask), Reykjavik City tour, return flights from your selected departure airport to Keflavik and shared transfers.
Book by 8th April 2014. Available select dates April to May 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.

Explore the dusty city of Marrakech, the setting of Pentos, and get a feel, smell and taste for the vibrant chaos of Westeros’ and Essos’ cities.

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Marrakech holiday: Opera Plaza Hotel, Morocco
From £442 / per person for 7 nights (saving £170 per person)

Offer includes seven nights in a Swimming Pool-View room (half-board basis), complimentary access to fitness suite, one complimentary hammam per person, per stay and return flights from your selected departure airport to Marrakech, Morocco.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates May to December 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


Head north into Stark territory with a trip to the Scottish Highlands and enjoy breath-taking panoramic views, epic walks and crisp, fresh air.

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Loch Lomond Waterfront: The Trossachs National Park, Scotland
From £143 / per lodge per night (saving £63 per lodge)

Offer includes seven nights in a Luxury Lodge and a security deposit for breakages/damage.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates April to October 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


Experience the dramatic geography and medieval architecture of the Andalusian city of Ronda. Surrounded by ancient olive groves and lush vineyards, the city stands above a canyon featuring three impressive Eyrie-like bridges.

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Hotel Molino del Arco: Ronda, Spain
From £85 / per room per night (saving £47 per room)

Offer includes accommodation in a Superior room (minimum two-night stay required), buffet breakfast and welcome drink.
Book by 7th April 2014. Available select dates April to August 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


The historic village of San Pataleo in Sardinia is surrounded by mountains and overlooks the iconic coastline of Costa Smeralda, with ocean views reminiscent of those commanded by Petyr Baelish’s ships.

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Tranquil Sardinia holiday: Hotel Arathena, Italy
From £435 / per person for 7 nights (saving £290 per person)

Offer includes seven nights in a Standard room, full breakfast, return flights from London Heathrow to Olbia and shared airport transfers.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates May to September 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.

With its Qarth-like architecture and stunning sea-front vistas, Korcula island is an idyllic escape just off Croatia’s southern Dalmatian Coast. The main Korcula Town is a charming medieval walled city, with a beautifully preserved old town and stellar local restaurants.

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Luxury Croatia holiday: Hotel Korkyra, Croatia
From £579 / per person for 7 nights (saving £193 per person)

Offer includes seven nights in a Mare Deluxe Double room (half-board basis), return flights from your selected departure airport and private airport transfers.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates April to October 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.

Located on the Ionian coast, Le Castella fortress is the very image of Astapor. Slavery hasn’t tainted the shore for centuries, and the nearby Calabria and Crotone now lie sparkling next to turquoise blue seas.

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Praia Art Resort Hotel: Calabria, Italy
From £94 / per room per night (saving £164 per room)

Offer includes accommodation in a Classic room, guaranteed upgrade to higher room category, buffet breakfast, complimentary Frigo bar (soft drinks only), access to the private beach with sun loungers and an umbrella, welcome fruit basket and bottle of wine.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates April to September 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.


Witness the results of a civilisation which played and lost the Game of Thrones with an escape to Rome, where ruined temples and palaces stand testament to the power struggles of their former rulers.

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5* Rome & Venice holiday: Luna Baglioni, Venice & Regina Baglioni, Rome

From £1119 / per person for 6 nights (saving £280 per person)

Offer includes three nights in a Superior room at the Luna Baglioni Venice, breakfast included, three nights in a Superior room at the Regina Baglioni Rome, breakfast included, return flights from your selected departure airport to Venice and transfers by train between hotels.
Book by 13thApril 2014. Available select dates July to August 2014. Visit http://www.secretescapes.com or call 0843 22 77 777.

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Interview –  Director Paul Tanter

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Interview – Director Paul Tanter

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Chris Ford

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Today April 7th, British action thriller ‘He Who Dares’ arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from STUDIOCANAL, telling the story of a group of ruthless terrorists who kidnap the Prime Minister’s daughter, fortifying themselves in an underground car park rigged with explosives. Sending in a crack SAS team, they must take back the building one level at a time. Directed by Paul Tanter (The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan), He Who Dares is a thrilling ride that harks back to British action at its best; at times I found myself thinking “would that really happen?” but then as Paul says himself in the inteveiw below the film isn’t a documentary, sometimes we need to remind ourselves its ok just to enjoy something! anyway last week I had a brief chat with Paul heres what he had to say:

Where did the idea for ‘He Who Dares’ come from?

A few years ago, myself and actor/producer Simon Phillips were shooting a scene for our police drama “Riot” (initially released as G.B.H). We were shooting in the bottom level of a 15 storey underground car park and, for some reason, we were talking about hostage films such as Die Hard, which is one of my favourite films, and Simon remarked that the car park we were in would actually be a perfect place for kidnappers to defend themselves as there’s only one way in – it’s not like a building where you could land a helicopter on the roof or go in through windows. We started working on a script and around the time we were finishing it, “The Raid” and “Dredd” both came out, showing there was a huge demand for that kind of action film – storming the castle, so to speak.

Your new film ‘He Who Dares’ shows the SAS as less of the professional ruthless outfit most tv and film portray them as and more amateurish to the point of embarrassment (mostly) , do you think the film will upset them at all?

I disagree. I think it shows them facing a near impossible situation and dealing with it the best way they can whilst cut off from the outside, outmanned and outgunned. I think anyone watching it, be they soldier or civilian, will see it as entertainment, not a documentary.

Do you feel you made the film you set out to or would it have been a different movie if there was a bigger budget?

All films would be a different movie if they had a bigger budget. We make all of our films on tight budgets and tight time constraints but always punch above our weight because we’re good at ensuring maximum production value. Every filmmaker would like a bit more time and a bit more money but we made an exciting action film and I’m extremely happy with the end result.

Is it difficult securing distribution for British crime films? It feels to me there’s less stigma attached to the straight to DVD film that there once was.

The majority of films released in the UK are straight to Home Entertainment (DVD/Blu-ray/iTunes/Sky Box Office/Virgin On Demand etc). Anyone who thinks “straight to DVD” is a bad thing usually has no idea how film distribution works and has probably never made a film that’s been distributed. There’s always a market for good stories performed by good actors, whether it’s crime or other. Obviously it helps if you have a track record of making stuff that people want to watch – the distributors are more likely to be interested in what you’re making next.

You tend to work with a lot of the same actors on your projects, what’s the reasoning behind this?

Because they’re good and I like them! When you work with people often, you develop a short hand with them that means you can hit the ground running with them. I’m lucky to have worked with some great actors who have become good friends and come back and do stuff with us often, including Simon, Rita Ramnani, Nick Nevern, Peter Barrett, Tom Knight, Rebecca Ferdinando, Billy Murray, Lorraine Stanley and Peter Woodward. It’s nice to reward loyalty, too.

Simon Philips I think especially is fantastic in everything I’ve seen him in, I’m shocked he’s not more a household name, how did you start working together?

We first worked together on “Jack Says”, many years ago. The film was in preproduction but needed a fresh rewrite and Rita, who was attached to the film to play Erin, recommended me to Simon for the job. Rita and I went to university together several years before and she remembered me from my writing things for the drama crowd. I took on the job and the producers were happy with the result, so I wrote the next film in the series, “Jack Said” as well as the accompanying graphic novels, then the next one, “Jack Falls”, which I got to co-direct.


You have form for making sequels’ of your past work, do you forsee a ‘He Who Dares’ sequel? (actually maybe a prequel!)

I do like sequels and trilogies – we did three Jack films and White Collar Hooligan 3 will be out this summer. We’ve actually already completed filming on the sequel, which will be out later in the year. We were confident enough in He Who Dares to crack on and make the second before the first was released. Wouldn’t rule out a third either!


I really Enjoyed White Collar Hooligan 1 and 2, when can we expect a 3?

Thank you very much. I’m pleased with the reaction to both films. I don’t know the exact date yet but it will be out this summer sometime around the World Cup. A lot of the action takes place in Rio during the tournament, so I’m sure it will be timed around that.


I see you are working on a film ‘Rise of The Krays’ can you tell us more about that?

It’s a period biopic of Ronnie and Reggie Kray and their rise to power. Simon Phillips and Billy Murray are producing – it’s great having Billy on board as he knew the twins back in their day and he’s full of stories about them and information about their characters and background. It’s my first period film, if you don’t count “The Fall of The Essex Boys”, which was set in 1995. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to start shooting!

Thank you for your time

Thank you too!


‘He Who Dares’ is out now on DVD and Bluray now.

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LE COL Cycling Clothing

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LE COL Cycling Clothing

Posted on 04 April 2014 by Chris Ford

Expert cycling apparel brand Le Col launches its brand new Summer 2014 collection, the range includes new road-tested pieces for both men and women, including shorts, jerseys and a Soft Shell Gillet, with cutting edge fabrics and technically designed cuts to control temperature and enable the highest level of athletic ability.

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Each piece has been personally put through its paces by Le Col founder and world-class cycling expert, Yanto Barker and top triathlete and Le Col brand ambassador, designer and tester, Vanessa Raw. With first-hand experience of how important every detail is to achieve the very best, they ensure every micro feature of Le Col apparel is optimised to help the cyclist to push themselves to their physical limits.

Sport Jersey:

RRP £79.99
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The Summer Sport Jersey for men and women has been developed using a soft technical fabric, selected for its excellent heat management properties combined with a high level of stretch for the perfect fit.

Each jersey comes with a full length zip, three pockets and an extra security pocket. T

Pro Short Sleeve Jersey:

RRP £119.99

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The new Pro Short Sleeve Jersey is created using the softest technical fabric Meryl, with roomy pockets and a high level of stretch to ensure a comfortable ride.

Available with ice blue, fluro yellow or competitive red logos and matching around the sleeve detailing, the Jersey provides a professional look for all riders and features a silicone gripper, reflective strip around the arms and on rear pocket for safety.

Sport Shorts:

RRP £99.99

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The Le Col Summer Shorts come in high performance red and cool-under-pressure blue, delivering comfort hour after hour, perfect for endurance riders.

The shorts feature contrasting logo detailing, along with high quality gel chamois, comfortable bib straps, silicone gripper and reflective strips.

The Le Col range is available to buy on direct at http://lecol.net or via selected stockists I have listed below.

Cycling enthusiasts can stay up-to-date with Le Col news on Twitter @OfficialLeCol and on Facebook @LeColClothing.

Stockists:

Le Col Store – http://lecol.net/

Sigma Sport – http://www.sigmasport.co.uk/

Colin Lewis Cycles – https://www.clcycles.co.uk

Cycles Dauphin – http://www.cyclesdauphin.com/

Bike Tart – http://www.biketart.com/

Bikechainricci – http://bikechainricci.co.uk/

Mosquito Cycles – http://mosquito-bikes.co.uk/

Big Maggy’s – http://www.bigmaggys.com/

Vekta Velosport – http://www.vektavelosport.co.uk/

700 Shop- http://www.7hundred.co.uk/

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Top 10 British Action Films

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Top 10 British Action Films

Posted on 02 April 2014 by Chris Ford

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On April 7th, British action thriller He Who Dares arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from STUDIOCANAL, telling the story of a group of ruthless terrorists who kidnap the Prime Minister’s daughter, fortifying themselves in an underground car park rigged with explosives. Sending in a crack SAS team, they must take back the building one level at a time. Directed by Paul Tanter (The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan), He Who Dares is a thrilling ride that harks back to British action at its best; here, we take a look back at those films…

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Guy Ritchie burst onto the international filmmaking scene in 1998 with his quintessential British debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a crime comedy thriller renowned for first showcasing the acting talent of former footballer Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham (a former diver, for the record). A heist film at heart, Lock, Stock… follows a group of friends who must pay a debt to a powerful crime lord so set to robbing a small-time gang living next door. Starring Jason Flemying, Dexter Fletcher and, er, Sting, Ritchie’s film has rightfully embedded itself into popular culture as a British modern classic.

Snatch (2000)
Guy Ritchie’s follow-up to Lock Stock… may lack the cutting edge of the former, but still remained a solid effort in delivering another much-loved British film. The film follows two intertwined plots each containing an ensemble of characters played by a impressively assorted cast. One strand concerns the search for a missing diamond (starring Benicio del Toro and Frank Butcher himself, Mike Reid), whilst the other sees Jason Statham’s boxing promoter Turkish under the thumb of ruthless gangster, Brick Top (Alan Ford). Easily distinguishable by its frenetic editing and circular plot, Snatch also boasts a memorable turn from Brad Pitt as Irish traveller Mickey O’Neil.

The 51st State (2001)
A British film fronted by Samuel L. Jackson does exist with The 51st State boasting that credit; playing Elmo McElroy, a master chemist looking to sell his formula in the United Kingdom, he is soon entangled in a web of deceit involving ‘Fixer’ Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle), his boss Leopold (Ricky Tomlinson) and a detective played by Sean Pertwee. Set in Liverpool, The 51st State was a commercial failure upon release but still boasts plenty of fun to be had.

Casino Royale (2004)
Quantum of Solace may have fell short of the mark, with Skyfall soaring to become one of Britain’s biggest films of all time, but it was Martin Campbell who reintroduced James Bond to an entire new era. Very much an origins story, Casino Royale establishes a completely new timeline and begins… well, at the beginning. With 007 in the process of earning his licence to kill, he comes across Ian Fleming creations Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) in a film fit with well-staged action sequences and memorable moments galore.

Layer Cake (2004)
In 2004, Matthew Vaughn graduated from being Guy Ritchie’s number one producer by crafting Layer Cake, a film akin to both Lock Stock… and Snatch, and one Ritchie undoubtedly wishes he had made. Filled with a who’s-who cast of recognisable British faces, the crime thriller follows Daniel Craig’s unnamed kingpin who plans to retire from the business; however, his plans are foiled when his supplier Jimmy (Kenneth Cranham) sends him out to track down the teenage daughter of their associate, Eddie Temple (a fearsome Michael Gambon). Suffice to say, the gritty hi-jinks are played out in break-neck speed by a cast featuring Sienna Miller, Sally Hawkins as well as early roles for Tom Hardy and Ben Whishaw.

Attack the Block (2008)
British monster movie Attack the Block was written and directed by debutante Joe Cornish, coming from the same production houses as that of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Set on a council estate in South London, the story focuses on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves when alien invaders make their presence known.

Kick-Ass (2010)
Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s graphic novel may have American money behind it, but there’s no denying the clear slant towards British cinema present throughout; surrounding the plot of an American boy who sets out to rid the streets of crime by becoming a costumed vigilante named Kick-Ass are a dangerous criminal underworld headed by mob boss Frank D’Amico, played with relish by Mark Strong. Perhaps solidifying the British effort are appearances from Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher as two of D’Amico’s goons.

The Sweeney (2012)
Inspired by the 1970s television police series starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, The Sweeney was brought to the big screen by Nick Love (The Football Factory, The Business) and is set in a contemporary London. Starring Ray Winstone as Detective Inspector Jack Regan alongside Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew, the story focuses on the Flying Squad, a section of the Metropolitan Police designed to investigate armed robberies. Fellow British talent, such as Hayley Awtell and Damian Lewis, both make appearances.

Welcome to the Punch (2013)
Eran Creevy’s action thriller depicts a shimmering London landscape, and tells the story of former Icelandic criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) who comes out of hiding in an attempt to save his son when a heist in London goes wrong, much to the delight of Detective Lewinsky (James McAvoy), who has always been after Sternwood. However, the two are forced to become unlikely allies in exposing a deeper conspiracy. Appearances from Peter Mullan, David Morrissey and This Is England’s Johnny Harris establish this as a true British thriller.

He Who Dares is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 7th April 2014 from STUDIOCANAL

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