Film / North Sea Hijack

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North Sea Hijack is a 1979 British action thriller film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, starring Roger Moore, James Mason, and Anthony Perkins. It is based on the novel Esther, Ruth and Jennifer by Jack Davies. The film has been re-issued under several other titles: North Sea Hijack was the original British title, but the film was issued internationally as ffolkes and later shown on TV as Assault Force. Trailers for the original U.S. theatrical release included the tagline "He doesn't need a licence to kill", referring to Roger Moore's most famous role.

Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (yes, with two lower case f's; it's still pronounced "folks") is an eccentric veteran of the Royal Navy turned freelance counter-terrorism consultant who specializes in diving missions. When terrorists seize two oil platforms and a cargo in the North Sea, ffolkes is recruited to come up with an anti-terrorist assault plan. The terrorist group is led by a man calling himself Lou Kramer, who demands a ransom in exchange for not blowing up the platforms within 24 hours. The rest of the film follows ffolkes's plan coming into fruition bit by bit.


Tropes in the movie:

  • The Alcoholic: ffolkes always has a bottle of scotch at hand and says it should only ever be drank "neat".
  • all lowercase letters: ffolkes.
  • Asexuality: ffolkes, with a pretty strong side order of misogyny.
  • Attempted Rape: One of Kramer's men attempts to rape Sanna, but is interrupted by Captain Olafsen.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Rufus Excalibur ffolkes
  • Ax-Crazy: Kramer. He seems to spend most of his time insulting people, killing them, or screaming.
  • Badass Beard: ffolkes.
  • Badass Crew: ffolkes' men.
  • Big Bad: Lou Kramer, the obnoxious, Ax-Crazy leader of the terrorists.
  • Bomb Disposal: Played with in that the bomb rigs on all three hijacked pieces of equipment have hefty counter-tampering measures and it's pretty obvious that they can't be disarmed in time — so ffolkes' plan? Have the people on Jennifer set off a massive explosion to make the terrorists believe that the rig blew up sky-high because of some accident while trying to defuse the bomb and thus buy time for the specialists.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rufus Excalibur ffolkes is probably the most misogynist man alive in the whole of Great Britain (or pretty damn close) and full of Brutal Honesty, but he is a masterful Magnificent Bastard that has trained the best amphibious tactical assault team in the United Kingdom, if not the world.
  • Cute Kitten: The UK government knows that medals don't impress ffolkes, so they award him with three kittens instead. They have the desired impression.
  • Dangerous Windows: Lou and Harold are shot with harpoons through windows.
  • Death by Childbirth: Both ffolkes's parents died upon his birth. It is not elaborated further as to just how his father managed to die at the same time.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: ffolkes' Establishing Character Moment in the film is him giving his team a harsh dress-down for being inefficient on their training... and then making them run the same underwater course again while he's dropping grenades in the water to encourage them into swimming faster.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Seemingly a precursor to the genre, with terrorists hijacking an oil platform, beating Die Hard by nearly a decade. A variation in that a lot of the plot's run time goes into all sides trying to outsmart each other.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Lou Kramer jumps in shock at the (faked) explosion of the Jennifer oil rig and when he tries to continue talking to the officer in charge of Ruth (who hung up, on ffolkes' orders) he says that he understands why the man did that, and frankly can't blame him.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: A bagpiper is present when ffolkes is awarded for his deeds in the end.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason why ffolkes dislikes women so much because he was forced to wear girls clothes until he was ten. Among other things. (Ironically, he later mistakes a female crew member, dressed in manly closes, for a boy.)
  • Harpoon Gun: ffolkes and his men are armed with them in the climax. Justified because of the needed stealth (and ffolkes is quick to mention that his men are well-trained in anatomy and will surely make the gun's one shot an Instant Death Bullet).
  • He-Man Woman Hater: ffolkes. After he heard that the gentleman club he is part started taking female members, he resigned from it immediately.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: During the final assault, while the rest of his team wear black diving outfits - the better to not be seen at night, ffolkes for some reason chooses to dawn a bright red suit instead, making him stand out like a sore thumb to any mook with functional eyes (of course, most of the mooks in this film lack this, apparently).
    • He was not originally part of the underwater assault team, so when plan A failed, he had to get a wetsuit from the oil platform stock. Vermillion was the only color available.note 
    • Possibly lampshaded when one of ffolkes' own men mistakes him for an enemy.
  • Jerkass: Kramer's not Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil in the slightest. He insults the captain, mocks his Norwegian accent, makes several bad jokes about his victims, and routinely screams at people.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even though ffolkes dislikes women, he still has some more polite moments towards them.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: ffolkes loves cats.
  • Name and Name: The original novel Esther, Ruth and Jennifer. It refers to the names of the supply ship, oil rig and the oil platform. They're also the names of the kittens ffolkes is rewarded with at the end.
  • Nerd Glasses: Worn by Harold, the terrorists' bomb expert.
  • No Name Given: We never learn Lou Kramer's real name, as he operates under a name that he randomly chose from a phonebook.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Prime Minister is a woman. Not surprising, given who was Prime Minister at the time.
  • Pistol Pose: Used on one of the posters.
  • Preppy Name: Rufus Excalibur ffolkes, not to mention badass.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: ffolkes does does needlepoint embroidery to pass away time. It has kittens on it, unsurprisingly.
    • Nearly invoked via the red scuba suit ffolkes dons for the final assault.
  • Retired Badass: ffolkes.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Lou Kramer and his gang who commandeer the oil platform are essentially pirates, and very ruthless.
  • Spanner in the Works: The plan to take out the terrorists originally included ffolkes being on board the Esther (disguised as an aide of the negotiating Admiral) with a concealed pistol (they would ask to use the ship's radio at a certain time, which would put ffolkes right on the ship's cabin at the time of the raid). The problem then became that Kramer caught Hate at First Sight of ffolkes and ordered him off the boat immediately, necessitating ffolkes' swim back to the Esther with gear facilitated from the rig so he could be part of his team's assault.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Kramer lapses into this more and more as the film progresses. An especially noteworthy example occurs when he figures out that the sailors on the Esther were trying to poison him and his gang.
    Kramer: What were you gonna do, sailor boy? Fill us full of poison and then laugh while we rolled around and died? Is that what you were gonna do? WAS IT!?
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The crew of Esther attempts to poison the terrorists with tampered food. Unfortunately Kramer catches wise and force-pours the whole kettle of tainted coffee down the cook's throat.
  • Team Title: The film was released as ffolkes outside the UK.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: ffolkes mistakes Sanna for a boy when they initially meet. He later realizes that Sanna really is a woman when he grabs her chest while he is making her warm.
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: Said almost word for word by Ruth's secretary when she sees ffolkes is doing his embroidery to pass the time. ffolkes explains that, considering that an important part of the plan is to drive Kramer crazy by pretending to be following his demands at a painfully slow pace, then yeah, it actually is a good time for knitting.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: Herring is killed after he decides to not to go with Kramer's plan.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kramer degenerates from a collected (if rude and obnoxious) criminal mastermind to a shrieking maniac as the film progresses. Of course, that was part of ffolkes' strategy all along.
  • Western Terrorists: The bad guys. Their leader Kramer doesn't like to be called such, as he claims to do it for money rather than any ideology.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/NorthSeaHijack