Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on April 18, 1980
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Written by Jack Davies, based on his novel Esther, Ruth and Jennifer
Cast: Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Michael Parks, David Hedison, Lea Brodie, Jack Watson, George Baker, Jeremy Clyde, David Wood, Faith Brook, Anthony Pullen Shaw, Jennifer Hilary
“Remember, luck favors the man with the most limpet mines…”
For the inaugural Video Store Action Heroes blogathon, I take a look at ffolkes, a British action thriller I’d first seen during its theatrical run in the spring of 1980. For whatever reason, the film was given the more cumbersome title North Sea Hijack for its UK release, and the bland Assault Force when first shown on US television. Yes, there’s a hijack and some assaulting going on, and the bulk of the action does take place on the North Sea, but why not just stick with calling it ffolkes? Well, I’m guessing some studio execs couldn’t quite wrap their arms around a movie whose title began with a lower-case consonant.
A bearded Roger Moore takes a break from the Bond series to play Rufus Excalibur ffolkes, an outspoken, confident, and sometimes abrasive anti-terrorist consultant who, as the one-sheet poster states, ‘loves cats, ignores women, and is about to save the world’. Well, I don’t know about that last part, but he happens to know a thing or two about underwater terrorism. He and his team are tasked by the British government to help stop a group of armed men, led by Anthony Perkins, from hijacking a pair of oil drilling platforms in the North Sea, held at ransom for 25 million pounds. Will ffolkes accomplish his mission in the few hours he has, and prevent both rigs from being blown up?
I was surprised at how little action there was in a film touted to be an action film, especially when it starred an action film star in Moore and was directed by Andrew V. McLagen, who’d helmed many adventure movies and television Westerns over his 35-year career. Most of ffolkes was made up of dialogue scenes and interactions between the terrorists and their hostages, which wouldn’t have been a bad thing if the pacing had been picked up a bit. Also, having most scenes play out in interior settings didn’t help, and while Ireland’s Dungaire Castle made for an offbeat yet utterly outstanding home and training ground for ffolkes during the opening sequences, there wasn’t much scenery beyond that to marvel at.
About the only thing ffolkes had going for it was its title character, or more specifically, its lead actor, Roger Moore, who helped give ffolkes his unique and audience-rousing stamp; he was tough, he knew his job, he didn’t put up with anyone’s nonsense, and best of all, his dialogue allowed him to deliver quite a few sharp retorts and comments to those around him. It was obvious Moore was having fun with the role, and though it could be argued that his character paralleled his Bond persona in a handful of ways, he still made watching the film a lot more enjoyable, and my recent $3 disc purchase a lot more palatable.
Though it was nice to see David Hedison and screen veteran James Mason in small roles, and there was a cool moment with Mason, a pack of cigarettes, and a small harpoon pistol, there really wasn’t much else to recommend besides Moore. So if it’s real action you’re looking for, it might be best to look elsewhere, such as Mike’s Take on the Movies, Wolfmans Cult Film Club, and Destroy All Fanboys, where Mike, Mikey, and Greg have probably chosen better action films to review for our mini-blogathon than I have. Go check ’em out! (6/10)