Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


ffolkes-poster-final-borderCinema Monolith: 6/10 The MonolithFilm Reel
IMDb: 6.4/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *** out of 4

Released on April 18, 1980
Rated PG
95 minutes

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)


34 comments on “ffolkes


    Am afraid I have a problem with the lower-case consonant thing too – as it reads like a stutter to me. Surprised they were that creative back then. Now that I know David Hedison was in this – I don’t care if the scenes were inside or out, boring or not – I will definitely be fastforwarding this to whichever of those he is in!!

    This is a great review TRB – thanks for sharing!!

    • Todd B

      I knew you’d get a kick out of knowing Mr. Hedison was in this! He’s only in a handful of scenes, playing a guy named King, but for you I’d say he’s still worthy of a look. And I guess the title does kinda sound like a stuttering Porky Pig: “Th-th-the, Th-th-the, That’s all, ffolkes!” As always, thanks Julie!

  2. geelw

    I still remember paying to see this and hearing most the guys in the audience complain afterward while leaving about the lack of high action, all those dang cats and even Moore’s “elf hat”. I think that Bond pose on the poster fooled a lot of ffolkes thinking this was going to be a big deal box office smash.

    • Todd B

      It’s funny how Moore wanted to escape the Bond persona for a moment, and chose to play this character, but then the studio goes out and creates a one-sheet poster that’s a near-perfect copy of the one for the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. And why would anyone complain about a room full of cats? Thanks for taking part in the blogathon, Greg!

  3. Don’t be so hard on this one. It’s got a great one sheet and of course, it’s here in my collection. LOL. Wonderful cast and Moore great here but yes for a better all around action pic, go with the Moore / McLaglen duet The Wild Geese.

    • Todd B

      I can’t remember if it was The Wild Geese or The Sea Wolves I watched years ago…and remembering nothing of either one of them. But I’ll give the The Wild Geese a look…I’ve been thinking about doing so anyway. And trust me, I love that ffolkes poster, too…it’s just too bad the movie wasn’t as exciting! 😉

      Thanks again for taking part in the fun, Mike! And don’t forget: through the luck of a dice roll, you get to choose our theme for the next Video Store Action Heroes blogathon. Any ideas yet?

      • The Sea Wolves another good one. Great cast in both those films. Figured we’d have to work Bronson in somehow next time. I’ll come up with a twist to make it fun.

      • Todd B

        I just received my Bronson 4-pack of ’70s films in the mail…I anticipated what your choice of blogathon theme might be, so I figured I better get prepared, since I had NO Bronson films in my collection from the 1970s OR the 1980s!

      • lol. Nice! Always money well spent.

      • Todd B

        Three of the four I’ve never seen, and the fourth was one I saw at the drive-in back in ’75, and haven’t seen since. That particular one included my first theatrical nude scene, at the tender age of 12.

      • I believe I have that 4 pack. New release from Mill Creek on blu ray. Couldn’t help myself in adding another release/version of the films to the collection.

      • Todd B

        Yep, I bet it’s one and the same. I’m looking forward to watching all four, but I’m curious: which of those four is your favorite?

      • No contest. Hard Times. Probably his best film of the decade.

      • Todd B

        Cool, I’ll watch that one first.

  4. I’m quite fond of the title North Sea Hijack, that was what I knew it as first. Yeah I bet the double lowercase f’s blew their minds. It’s unique though.

    Roger Moore is just having a total laugh with his over the top performance. Wooly hats, cats and whiskey for breakfast. Yeah he makes the film and I just can’t stop giggling at all his funny mannerisms and barking intrusive chauvinist remarks at every opportunity. The lovely Lea Brodie counteracts all the testosterone.

    It’s based on a novel called “Esther, Ruth and Jennifer” who are his cats names, bless him. His face at the end when he gets his “award” is priceless 🙂

    I’d read that they had high hopes of it becoming series of films but unfortunately the poor returns put paid to that.

    That poster image you have found is awesome. Nice pick and great review Todd.

    • Todd B

      Yes, I loved Moore’s ‘barking remarks’ throughout the film, and that freeze-frame at the end had me laughing; such a typical ’80s end to a film, with a grinning Moore walking off as if he was saying, “I’ve got my kittens, and I’m going home.”

      I’m now interested in finding that novel and giving it a read, and seeing if the screenwriters made many changes (for better or worse) to the source material. A series of ffolkes films might’ve been pretty cool, if only they’d upped the action quotient a bit for each installment.

      Thanks Mikey, and thanks for taking part in the festivities; I just ordered three action film Blu-ray sets, so we’ll see if I get to use any of them for our upcoming blogathons.

      • Todd I really enjoyed the gang getting together, was very enjoyable. Looking forward to the next selection and what direction we shall be taking with our memory lane brain excursions.

        Reckon the book could be very interesting, especially to see what they added, took away etc. The book could make a good edition to the movie shelves.

        Very excited to see what goodies you bought on your Blu-ray sets and if one or two will fit into the next or upcoming VSAH selections. Roll on the next combo 🙂

      • Todd B

        Glad you had fun, Wolfman! If I ever track down the novel, I’ll definitely give it a read. And I think I’ll do a quick post and show off the three Blu-ray action sets I bought; hopefully one of four from a particular set will fit whatever theme Mike has up his sleeve for our next blogathon.

      • Hope so that be brilliant if you can get a flick from the box sets. Plus great to hear what the book adventure of ffolkes and his ninja cats brings. Roll on the next VSAH!

      • Todd B

        The Ninja Cats…the exciting action-packed sequel to ffolkes, coming soon from Merchant Ivory.

  5. Eric Binford

    Ah … I love this movie! I think it contains one of Moore’s best performances. The supporting cast is great. And who does not like a guy who loves cats? 😉

    • Todd B

      I think both facets that you mention were what prompted me to see the film at the theater in the first place; Roger Moore, and the fact his character liked cats. And I haven’t seen many Moore films (or even TV series) beyond his Bond entries, but even so I’d have to agree: one of his best performances (or at least, his most fun).

      • Eric Binford

        Moore was even better in The Man Who Haunted Himself, probably his best film work. Have you seen it?

      • Todd B

        No, I’ve never even heard of it! I just checked out the trailer, and it looks pretty interesting (thankfully, the trailer didn’t give too much away). I also saw where Moore calls it his favorite role, so I’ll try to track it down and give it a look. Thanks, Eric!

  6. “why not just stick with calling it ffolkes?”

    Because A) that’s a terrible title, B) it’s not the original title and C) it’s totally unmarketable:

    “We’re going to see ffolkes tonight.”

    “You’re going to see your folks?”

    “No ffolkes. It’s a movie.”

    “Folks? Is it about old folks?”

    “It’s got Roger Moore in it.”

    “So it is about old folks!”

    Why not keep North Sea Hijack which is the original title, is short and snappy, has a cool word in it (“hijack”) and tells you what the film’s about and where it’s set. I have to assume it was changed because they thought Americans wouldn’t know where the North Sea was (not that it really matters).

    It’s mis-sold as an action film. It’s a thriller and a relatively low-key one, but I like it.

    • Todd B

      Hey Jay! Here are a few friendly rebuttal-like thoughts:

      a) I think ffolkes is quite a cool and unique title, and since it’s the name of the character, at the very least makes as much sense as North Sea Hijack, which to me is about as generic as they come (as is the television title, Assault Force). It might as well be called Attack Squad, or Strike Team, or Kill Factor 12. Or if we bring logic into it, Oil Rig Hijack.

      b) ffolkes IS the original title, here in the US and everywhere else in the world besides the UK, where it was called North Sea Hijack. For me, it will always be known as ffolkes, because that was the film’s title when I first saw it in San Diego back in 1980, but if someone is from England, I can see where NSH would’ve been their title of choice.

      c) And it’s unmarketable because ‘ffolkes’ sounds like ‘folks’? Well then:

      “Are you going to watch Lassie Come Home tonight?”

      “A young Irish female went away? Why is she coming back?”

      This could go on forever, of course, using hundreds of titles (The Stepfather, Nixon, Aliens, etc). But what I will agree with is, even though it’s labeled as an action film, it really isn’t…it should’ve been, but with so little action going on, ‘thriller’ or maybe ‘espionage thriller’ would’ve been more appropriate. And yes, I liked it too, for Roger Moore; it’s too bad this character didn’t continue on in other films.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jay…now I’ll have to check out Moore’s characters in The Sea Wolves, Escape to Athena, and The Wild Geese to see how they compare.

    • ROFL and in total agreement with Jay !!!

      • Todd B

        Oh yeah? Maybe you should go hang out at his blog site instead! 😛


        Oh yeah?! Well maybe I just will then! 😜😜😜

      • Todd B

        I…well…um…I never thought you’d take me up on it!


        Ha Ha [JUST KIDDING]!!
        Y’all ffolkes have fun and I’ll catch U ffolkes later! Gonna ffolkes off into the sunset now…

      • Todd B

        Dear lord, I think I’m gonna ffolkes…

  7. Eric Binford

    This is actually my favorite non-Bond Moore movie! I loved to see Moore play a hero who loves cats and hates women! LOL! Plus the supporting cast is great!

    • Todd B

      What, is there an echo in here? Hi again, Eric! I’d have to agree, of all the non-Bond films I’ve seen, this is my favorite starring Moore. But I still have to check out The Man Who Haunted Himself. And Spice World, of course.

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 222

From the Monolith: 123

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 6
1940s – 19
1950s – 35
1960s – 34
1970s – 35
1980s – 33
1990s – 6
2000s – 13
2010s – 41

Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 40
Comedy – 35
Crime – 21
Documentary – 5
Drama – 24
Horror – 38
Musical – 1
Mystery/Thriller – 19
Romance – 3
Sci-Fi/Fantasy – 27
Western – 8

Movies by CM Rating

10 star – 10
9 star – 28
8 star – 35
7 star – 31
6 star – 22
5 star – 22
4 star – 23
3 star – 18
2 star – 18
1 star – 12
0 star – 3

Movies by MPAA Rating

Pre-1968 – 89
G – 1
PG – 32
PG-13 – 34
R – 58
NC-17 – 0
TV and Unrated – 8

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