Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Dir: Mark Hartley, 2014

10/10

Electric Boogaloo

A terrific documentary on the rise and fall of the most infamous distributor of the 80’s, Electric Boogaloo is a no holds barred look at the car crash relationship between its founders, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.

Born in Israel, cousins Menahem (pronounced “Ma-nak-um” and not “Men-a-hem” as I always thought), came to America and took the world’s film industry by storm.

Golan was a well known, and respected, film director in his native country, was best known for his film Operation Thunderbolt, the story of the rescue situation at Entebbe Airport. It starred notable actor Klaus Kinski and the actress best known for her big boobs, Sybil Danning.

Cannon Films was formed in 1967 but was in serious trouble by the late 1970’s. It was sold to the Israeli cousins in 1979.

Menahem was an ideas man. He had an untamed imagination. Globus was a numbers man. Golan would just spend money on films. Globus tried to keep a budget. It’s clear, that with this sort of management, the sword of Damocles was hanging overhead.

The two cousins don’t appear in this documentary. Instead, they chose to appear in an alternate film that focuses on them rather than the company, called The Go-Go Boys.

Everybody who was in a Cannon film, or was part of a Cannon film, appear in this. Nobody has a good word to say about the films or the duo.

Full of intriguing facts about the films and the company, Richard Chamberlain is not backwards about disliking Sharon Stone. Both starring in the two Allan Quatermain films, Chamberlain describes Stone as “difficult”.

Boogaloo is filled with clip after clip of the Cannon library. Some are just downright terrible. There are some gems in there, too; Masters Of The Universe, American Ninja, Enter The Ninja and it’s sequels.

It would have been great to have heard from Chuck Norris, one of Cannon’s premier stars along with Charles Bronson.

Alex Winter, of Bill & Ted fame, does not speak highly of his Death Wish 3 director, Michael Winner, or of the film itself.

I sometimes think that the people who were in the films have had their opinions clouded by the experience of making them or the critical reception, they received. The distributors did make some brilliant films, purely on the so bad it’s good, scale.

Menahem Golan didn’t, really, have an understanding about money. He would spend it quicker than they were making it. His ideas for films were left unchecked. Script after script was greenlighted and put into production. In one, alone, they released around 48 pictures. Everything was a race, to them.

But, they were able to coax some big stars. Lee Marvin starred in the Golan directed The Delta Force with Chuck Norris. Sylvester Stallone was in the arm wrestling drama, Over The Top also directed by Golan.

The duo was quick to capitalise on the profitable exploitation genre. Bo Derek, fresh from her success in Blake Edward’s 10, was cast in her husband John’s, film Bolero. An excuse to show Bo’s famous assets (and, we’re not talking acting, here), Golan insisted on the sex scenes being more explicit.

If more thought was put into the company, they could have been major contenders. Instead, they just randomly threw money at everything and brought about their own demise.

You can’t help but feel sad about the way things ended. They never hid the fact that they produced B-movies. They thrived on it. The public loved them. A desire for that type of entertainment was calling. Cannon fulfilled that yearning.

The company was run on both members egos. At one point, Globus is seen demanding his money from someone on the phone and not being particularly polite about it.

Golan, clearly, thought of himself as one of the great directors. His musical, The Apple, was a disaster both financially and critically, but Golan thought it “out Tommy-ied Tommy”.

While watching this, you’ll feel nostalgic about the old films and want to re-watch Cyborg or Missing In Action. Superman IV is not as bad as is made out. Yeah, it is cheap and the effects are terrible but, it’s still fun. Just take it for what it is. And that is what’s best for watching a Cannon film.

There are so many wonderful clips from the back catalogue that a lot of people may never have even heard of. Such was the constant output, the movies came and went so rapidly that they flew under the radar.

Maybe, all along, Golan had it right. He was just too early. The films that he pioneered have, now, become much loved cults and classics. The title of the film itself comes from the sequel to cult dance movie Breakin’; the much maligned and, laughable, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

A superb documentary, that will surely rank as one of the best ever made.

 

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