Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
At long last, fans can enjoy the UK release of the critically documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, and the undeniable nostalgia that comes with it. The film has done extremely well on the festival circuit and all over the world. Plus, as well as being a fascinating, historic documentary by any standard, it's obviously a great piece for long time fans of the company and their wild output of movies throughout the 1980's. Every action fan will have their selection of favourite Cannon films! Mine would definitely include Enter the Ninja, Missing in Action, The Delta Force, Cobra, the hugely underrated Runaway Train, but there are countless others.
From acclaimed cult film documentarian Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed), Electric Boogaloo centres on the story of two movie-obsessed immigrant cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus who, in pursuit of their moviemaking dream, bought Cannon Films, an indie studio that would produce over 120 exploitation films from 1979-1989, helping launch the careers of numerous action stars including Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren and revive the big screen presence of countless legends.
Wildly eclectic, Golan and Globus also produced work by such luminaries as Franco Zeffirelli, John Cassavetes and Barbet Schroeder. With relentless energy and sheer “cojanas”, the cousins turned a renegade outfit into a major Hollywood powerhouse and this documentary charts the big dreams, ambitions and ultimately the rise and fall of this iconic organisation.
Told in mostly chronological order and, understandably, skimming through the studio's immense catalogue, the film charts Cannon's rise to fame and how they elevated themselves from tireless, hard working producers of low budget, late night and mostly genre-based entertainment, to more ambitious, expensive epics that gave opportunities to stars and filmmakers abandoned by conventional Hollywood. They truly took risks and followed gut instincts and this love and affection certainly comes across through the wide range of interviews, talking heads and archive footage.
Interestingly, we also see the other side, addressing the more ruthless, and at times haphazard approach from such a high output studio trying to conceive its next hit. Alongside the relentless drive and "go get 'em" display, there is an obvious bitterness and resentment fromother former colleagues and crew about their approach. It's led some viewers to criticise this aspect of the documentary but, arguably, it demonstrates two very different sides of the coin in any business. If anything, we're presented a more rounded view that both praises and criticises and, for me personally, this doesn't spoil the nostalgia of Cannon's movie output, nor does it feel like this was ever an aim. It simply takes the good with the bad. Golan himself, who passed away last year, acknowledged making good films and bad films, but what he always emphasised was that he made them.
The film even rounds off nicely by touching on those with origins in the studio who would later form Millennium Films, the studio responsible for modern day genre movies like The Expendables franchise and the Scott Adkins headlined Ninja movies, which have taken inspiration and work ethic from the Cannon repertoire in many ways. Therefore, in that regard, the legacy continues.
Plus, with many of the catalogue's highlights being reissued on DVD and Blu-ray, those films are available for old fans to revisit and new fans to uncover, and thankfully this documentary tells a story which allows the same thing to happen. It's a wonderful slice of history for any cinephile.
Interestingly, Golan and Globus turned down participation in this film and instead made their own documentary titled The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films which is also also worth a look for another perspective on the studio's history.
Electric Boogaloo comes highly recommended and achieves a crossover, being funny, insightful, inspiring, touching and absolutely makes me want to revisit those VHS classics from my formative years! Sadly there are no extras on the DVD and it would have been nice to catch just a taste of what must have been a wealth of footage, but hopefully this can be made available further down the road.
Electric Boogaloo is out now on DVD and digital download from Metrodome Distribution.