North Sea Hijack

North Sea Hijack (released as ffolkes outside the UK and as Assault Force on US TV[1]) is a 1980 British action film starring Roger Moore, 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.[1]

North Sea Hijack
Original UK film poster
Directed byAndrew V. McLaglen
Produced byElliott Kastner
Written byJack Davies
StarringRoger Moore
James Mason
Anthony Perkins
Michael Parks
Music byMichael J. Lewis
CinematographyTony Imi
Edited byAlan Strachan
Cinema Seven Productions[1]
Distributed byUniversal/CIC
Release date
3 April 1980 (UK)
18 April 1980 (US)[1]
Running time
100 min
CountryUnited Kingdom[1]
Box office$2,993,772 (US only)[2]

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 (Roger Moore) is asked by Lloyd's of London to develop a contingency plan, should any of the North Sea oil installations they insure 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 (Anthony Perkins), 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.[1] 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 (Faith Brook) and her staff consult Lloyd's, where both platforms are insured, about providing the ransom, the CEO (George Baker) informs them about ffolkes, and after some initial hesitation he is hired to take out the terrorist and retake the platforms. ffolkes enacts his plan by traveling to Jennifer as the aide of Admiral Brindsen (James Mason), 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 expires. Following the successful conclusion of the mission, ffolkes is rewarded for his service with three kittens named after Esther, Ruth and Jennifer.


* ffolkes is an old English name that is correctly spelled with two lower-case f's. In the book, ffolkes corrects other people several times on this matter. See ffolkes baronets.


The film was a commercial disappointment.[3] It was released as North Sea Hijack in the United Kingdom but in the United States and other English-speaking territories it was retitled ffolkes. When it was first broadcast on American television in 1983, it was renamed Assault Force.[1][4] In West Germany it was known as Sprengkommando Atlantik (lit. "Demolition Squad Atlantic").[5]

"The film's had so many title changes I've lost count," said Moore. "But everyone seems to like the character I play."[6]


The Guardian said: "as pulp melodramas go, it's quite fun".[7] 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."[8] Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel selected the film as one of their "dogs of the year" in a 1980 episode of Sneak Previews.[9] The film hold a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 6 reviews.[10]


  1. ffolkes on IMDb
  2. Box Office Mojo Retrieved 2011-02-14
  3. "If a film chews gum, it's American". The Guardian. 5 July 1980. p. 9.
  4. "Ffolkes on David Hedison's Web site". Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  5. "Sprengkommando Atlantik: Ein Nägelbeißer mit Roger Moore, der Frauen hasst". Retrieved 3 May 2018. (ger)
  6. "MOORE—ON THE GO FROM GOA: MOORE ON THE GO". Los Angeles Times. 29 January 1980. p. 1..
  7. "Anatomy of an American dream". The Guardian. 27 March 1980. p. 13.
  8. Thomas, Kevin (18 April 1980). "'FFOLKES': HHIGH SSEAS AADVENTURE". Los Angeles Times. p. 6.
  9. "Sneak Previews: Worst of 1980". Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  10. North Sea Hijack at Rotten Tomatoes
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