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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » ffolkes (North Sea Hijack) (Blu-ray)
ffolkes (North Sea Hijack) (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // PG // October 1, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted October 7, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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While he was busy playing James Bond, actor Roger Moore found time in between the long productions of those movies to appear in about a dozen others, some quite good, especially Gold (1974), Shout at the Devil (1976), The Wild Geese (1978) - and North Sea Hijack (1979), confusingly retitled ffolkes for its U.S. release, with an altered, highly deceptive advertising campaign. When it premiered on American network television it was retitled yet again, this time to Assault Force.

Whatever you want to call it, the movie adapted by Jack Davies from his novel Esther, Ruth and Jennifer gave Moore one of the best roles of his career, a character far removed from 007, though its U.S. posters falsely hinted at something very much like James Bond with a beard (see below right). Ably directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, the movie is a crackling, highly satisfying, intelligent thriller boasting an excellent cast and very good special effects. It didn't do well commercially when it was new, but over the years has found enthusiastic fans through cable television airings and home video releases.

Eccentric, arrogant, and misogynistic counter-terrorism expert Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Moore) is approached by Fletcher (George Baker) to develop strategies to protect Britain's vulnerable North Sea oil rigs. Soon after, Lou Kramer (Anthony Perkins) leads a band who, masquerading as members of the press, hijack the Norwegian supply ship Esther, planting explosive devices on her and limpet mines on Jennifer, a production platform, and its drilling rig, Ruth, issuing a ransom demand of 25 million pounds in five different currencies.

Reluctantly, the Prime Minister (Faith Brook) and Naval operations supervisor Admiral Brindsen (James Mason), in consultation with insurer Lloyds of London, agree to ffolkes's daring plan to retake the platforms.

Roger Moore, clearly, is having the time of his life playing the eccentric, autocratic ffolkes, who hates women, loves cats, lives in a castle and drinks scotch straight out of the bottle. He needlepoints while plotting strategy, and is the most virulent anti-smoker this side of Tony Randall. Cocksure but with the skill and genius mind to back up his confidence, ffolkes does not suffer fools gladly. "I suppose you're one of those fellows who does The Times crossword puzzle in ten minutes," remarks Admiral Brindsen.

"I have never taken ten minutes," ffolkes replies, curtly.

Almost equally good is Anthony Perkins's no-nonsense villain, whose own considerable intelligence trips up ffolkes a couple of times, enough to keep the movie tense and exciting throughout. Somewhat similar to Robert Shaw's great subway hijacker in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Perkins's Kramer is in it for the money only, takes few chances, and anticipates problems several steps ahead of everyone else. His final moments in the movie have since become a tiresome cliché of such thrillers but, when the movie was new, his last scene was a startling surprise.

The supporting is great, too, with James Mason a joy to watch for his bemused reactions to ffolkes's larger-than-life personality quirks; Michael Parks as Kramer's hypermetropic lieutenant; David Hedison (who'd played Felix Leiter opposite Moore in Live and Let Die) as an oil rig supervisor; Faith Brook as the Thatcher-esque P.M.; Jennifer Hilary as a secretary far more competent than ffolkes expects; and Lea Brodie as Sanna, the lone female crew member aboard the Esther, she also coming in handy when ffolkes needs assistance.

John Richardson, who worked on the visual effects of Moore's Bond film Moonraker that same year, supervised the elaborate miniature effects. The huge model of the oil rig is especially impressive, and holds up remarkably well even now, projected onto big home theater screens.

The locations, apparently mostly in Ireland and off the Irish coast, are likewise visually spectacular. Many in the cast and crew became seasick and, judging by the heaving waves, it's easy to see why. Between the use of real ships on real waters and the excellent visual effects, the film is a refreshing reminder not everything has to be done CGI.

Strangely, the movie was greeted with mostly poor reviews, even making Siskel & Ebert's "Dogs of the Year" list. But what's not to like?

Video & Audio

  Licensed from Universal, Kino's Blu-ray of ffolkes looks very good, comparable to the transfer used for release in Europe a few years back. The DTS-HD audio is fine, and optional English subtitles are provided. The region "A" disc is closed-captioned.

Extra Features

Supplements are limited to a trailer and an audio commentary track, this time featuring film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson.

Parting Thoughts

Enormous fun, ffolkes, aka North Sea Hijack aka Assault Force comes Highly Recommended.






Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian currently restoring a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

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