A competent technician whose work has ranged from military action features ("The Dogs of War" 1980) to finely observed character studies ("Turtle Diary" 1985). Irvin began his career as an assistant director with British Transport Films. After shooting shorts and documentaries for a number of years and working extensively for English TV, Irvin broke through to American audience with the serialized adaptation of John le Carre's George Smiley novel, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (1980). Thereafter, Irvin directed his first feature, "Dogs of War" a hot-headed (and some thought, racist) depiction of a military coup in Africa. He went on to handle a stream of mediocre "American" genre films: the sports picture "Champions" (1983), the Schwarzenegger vehicle "Raw Deal" (1986) and the sociologically-minded if somewhat reactionary Vietnam war film "Hamburger Hill" (1987), concluding with the negligible Patrick Swayze vehicle, "Next of Kin" (1989).