|North Sea Hijack|
Original UK film poster
|Directed by||Andrew V. McLaglen|
|Produced by||Elliott Kastner|
|Written by||Jack Davies|
|Starring|| Roger Moore |
|Music by||Michael J. Lewis|
|Edited by||Alan Strachan|
|3 April 1980 (UK)|
18 April 1980 (US)
|Box office||$2,993,772 (US only)|
North Sea Hijack (released as ffolkes outside the UK and as Assault Force on US TV) is a 1980 British action film starring Roger Moore, Lea Brodie , James Mason, Anthony Perkins and Michael Parks. It was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and adapted by Jack Davies from his novel, Esther, Ruth and Jennifer.
This film was a vehicle for both Moore and Perkins to try to escape typecasting. Previously, Moore had been practically typecast as a womanising, happy-go-lucky playboy in such series as The Saint, The Persuaders! and James Bond. In contrast to those parts, he portrays a bearded, eccentric, arrogant, cat-loving misogynist with master strategist skills.
Eccentric and cat-loving counter-terrorism consultant Rufus Excalibur ffolkes is asked by Lloyd's of London to develop a contingency plan, should any of the North Sea oil installations it insures be threatened. Months later, a North Sea supply ship named Esther takes on board a group of men posing as reporters who are to visit the oil production platform Jennifer. The leader of this group, Lou Kramer, hijacks the ship; the gangsters attach limpet mines to the legs of Jennifer and its accompanying oil drilling rig, Ruth, then issue a ransom demand for £25 million to the British government. Esther's crew tries to fight back, but is thwarted by Kramer's vigilance, and two of their number end up dead.
When the British Prime Minister and her staff consult Lloyd's, where both platforms are insured, about providing the ransom, the CEO informs them about ffolkes, and after some initial hesitation he is hired to take out the terrorists and retake the platforms. ffolkes enacts his plan by traveling to Jennifer as the aide of Admiral Brindsen, who was tasked by the Prime Minister to supervise the operation. With Ruth out of Esther's sight, ffolkes first asks the admiralty to prepare a fake explosion in order to distract Kramer from blowing up Ruth and to buy them more time, then arranges for having Brindsen and himself brought aboard the supply ship to take out the terrorist leaders from within while his men board from underwater. However, Kramer distrusts ffolkes and has him removed from Esther.
With his original plan thus upset, ffolkes persuades the Prime Minister to have the ransom helicopter drop off a bomb on Esther in case his team fails to take out Kramer's gang in time. Then he approaches the ship from underwater, and despite some mishaps he manages to thwart the activation of the detonators, leaving Kramer for dead, and prevent the bomb drop on Esther. Kramer, mortally wounded, makes one last attempt to blow up Jennifer, but is stopped by ffolkes and dies. Following the successful conclusion of the mission, ffolkes is rewarded for his service with three kittens named after Esther, Ruth and Jennifer.
The film was a commercial disappointment.It was released as North Sea Hijack in the United Kingdom but in the United States and other English-speaking territories it was re-titled ffolkes. When it was first broadcast on American television in 1983, it was renamed Assault Force. In West Germany it was known as Sprengkommando Atlantik (lit. "Demolition Squad Atlantic").
"The film's had so many title changes I've lost count," said Moore. "But everyone seems to like the character I play."
The Guardian said: "as pulp melodramas go, it's quite fun".The Los Angeles Times called it: "a vigorous but lacklustre high-seas adventure... there are lots more conferences than bravura acts of daring... even so, it is ingenious and well crafted." Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel selected the film as one of their "dogs of the year" in a 1980 episode of Sneak Previews . The film hold a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes based on six reviews.
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