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Dangerous Lady (1995) – DVD Review

Dangerous Lady DVD cover art


Written by Paul Hines, based on the novel by Martina Cole
Directed by John Woods
Starring Jason Isaacs, Susan Lynch, Sheila Hancock, Owen Teale, Roy Marsden


  • Includes all four episodes of the mini-series
  • Director and cast filmographies

Released by: BFS Video.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent It.

[ad#longpost]During the early 60s, the Ryan clan was one of toughest criminal “firms” in London. Led by Michael Ryan (Isaacs), he and his brothers intimidated, beat, and even killed to establish themselves in the London underworld, all for the family. Michael even sacrificed more by becoming the lover of the previous leader of the gang. Of course when it was time for him to go, Michael sent him off this mortal coil with the sign of the Cross.

Their mom, Sarah (Hancock) tries to keep the evil out of her house and family, but with all the money and thrills, it’s a losing battle. The youngest, Maura (Lynch), tries to escape the watchful eye of her brothers and even hooks up with, of all things, a cop (Teale). Maura discovers she’s pregnant the day Terry (the aforementioned cop) breaks it off so he can’t use their relationship to spy on the Ryans for his bosses. Sarah tries to take care of her daughter…and the unwanted child, but things take an unexpected turn…

It’s quite refreshing watching a mob story take place outside of the long shadow of Don Coppola. Of course, this is all just a backdrop to tell a story of love and betrayal and take it to near operatic melodrama. Michael, Maura, and even the mother Sarah do things that are supposedly “for the family,” but that’s a justification to excuse acts against God and man. Only at the end, do they realize that to help the family, they must give up the power and glamour of being violent criminals, even if that means sacrificing everything.

Isaacs plays the charming-one-minute-brutal-the-next Michael perfectly. His self-loathing of what he has become fuels his anger and eventual destruction. Hancock, as the Ryan matriarch, shows the pure despair of having children who seem to live to cause pain. Even though she hates Michael and Maura for what they’ve become, she can’t stop loving them. But it is Lynch as Maura who shines as someone trying to escape her life but is bound by familial ties of iron. It’s interesting to see her transformation where after letting her family control her, she finally takes charge. But this only intertwines her more deeply.

It’s a shame that the only special feature included is the usual filmography of those involved. They could have included some history of London crime families during the 60s like the Krays. It would have helped give some depth to the story, but you can do your own research if you’re interested. Dangerous Lady is definitely worth watching if you want a crime family drama without an Italian accent.