‘ffolkes’ (1980) aka North Sea Hijack Blu-ray reviewed

❉ We Are Cult’s Nick Clement is all at sea with Roger Moore, James Mason and Anthony Perkins.

Ffolkes is a crusty and super-entertaining seafaring adventure film from rugged, man’s man director Andrew V. McLaglen (The Wild Geese, The Devil’s Brigade, Mitchell, The Sea Wolves, Breakthrough, The Last Hard Men, Something Big, McClintock!), and the folks at Kino Lorber have given this old-school catalogue title the Blu-ray release it deserves. Also known as North Sea Hijack in the United Kingdom (and given the title Assault Force for its American TV airings and Demolition Squad Atlantic for German release), this 1980 British action picture carries a fantastic and grizzled cast of veterans, including Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Michael Parks, and Lea Brodie. It’s the sort of unpretentious, two-fisted programmer that sometimes feels older than it actually is (40 years), and yet it’s abundantly clear that everyone involved had a lot of fun making it; McLaglen’s sure-handed direction keeps all of the action moving along swiftly and with confidence.

The tonally daring script, which was adapted by Jack Davies (Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines) from his own novel, is both consistently gripping and oddly humorous in spots, and centers on a counter-terrorism consultant and underwater expert with one of the best names ever – Rufus Excalibur Ffolkes (Moore, looking at the time to subvert his Bond persona) – who is tasked with coming up with a contingency plan should any of the super-important oil installations in the North Sea become threatened. Before you can say “let’s blow some stuff up,” a supply ship is hijacked by a nasty group of baddies led by Perkins, who attach mines to the vessel and a drilling rig, threatening to blow them up uncles the British government forks over £25 million in 24 hours. Moore’s kooky, cat-loving bad-ass with a certain misogynist streak shows up on the scene with a group of commandos and starts taking out the trash, and all of it is really fun to behold.

Despite not catching on at the box-office, Ffolkes has certainly acquired a cult following over the years, and definitely stands as one of the more odd-ball efforts tackled by Moore, who really seemed to cut loose in this movie, allowing the various eccentricities of his character to shine through, while still getting to kick some ass and save the day. Shot by sturdy cinematographer Tony Imi (Enemy Mine, Nate and Hayes, The Sea Wolves) and featuring a robust musical score from Michael J. Lewis (The Passage, 92 In the Shade), Ffolkes looks and sounds fantastic, with Kino’s Blu-ray release retaining a strong and cinematic-looking colour palette, with no overt digitisation blurring; you still get to see the grain in the film stock in just the right moments, which always makes me smile. Special features include an audio commentary track by film Historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson, reversible cover art, and the film’s original theatrical trailer.

Blu-ray Extras:

❉ Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
❉ Reversible Art
❉ Theatrical Trailer

❉ ‘Ffolkes’ aka North Sea Hijack (Blu-ray) Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. Cast: Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Michael Parks, Jack Watson, David Hedison, George Baker. Running Time: 95. UPC: 7 38329 24017 2. Region 1 encoding. RRP $29.95 USD. Click here to buy

 Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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