Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
When I think back on it, I used to believe my conscious introduction to my homeboys Menahem Golem and Yoram Globus, the geniuses behind Cannon films, were those jingoistic Chuck Norris movies, Missing in Action, Delta Force, Invasion U.S.A. and that special brand of garbage, but as I span through their bloated filmography, because as filmmaker Mark Hartley's documentary 'Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films' will let you know in exquisite detail, they were nothing if not prolific, I met them a lot sooner. It was either 'New Years Evil' or the Jayne and Leon Isaac Kennedy vehicle 'Body and Soul'. One or the other of the suspect films my brother took me to way back in the day, heck if I remember which, and a relationship between a schlock film watcher and a schlock filmmaker was born.

'Electric Boogaloo' brims across the early days of cousins Menahem and Yoram, and their love of all things film, which eventually sprouted into these two forming their own film company in Israel. By all accounts they were very successful in Israel, but be you from Rhode Island or Tel Aviv… Hollywood is the only mountain worth climbing in the entertainment business and off they go to make their name.

After buying Cannon films, and with their unique style of making deals, a name they made for themselves indeed. In this film our director will be speaking with a lot of talking heads from all aspects of the filmmaking process with a lot of very interesting things to say about their time working with or for Cannon films and the cousins... some of them gracious… some not so much. For instance there was the gentleman from MGM who struck up a deal with Cannon in the mid 80's to distribute their films, and he was none too happy with the product he got. That was a really angry
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dude, and this is over thirty years after the fact. But quite honestly… who should this cat be mad at? I might've been around the age of 12 by the time he signed this deal and I could've told him that Menahem and Yoram will be sending a plethora of crap movies his way. Did they watch any of these things before they signed this deal? Did MGM watch 'Enter the Ninja'? Sure, I might think 'Enter the Ninja' is all kinds of awesome, but I sure as well wouldn't sign a deal with ANYBODY connected to that movie. And I was twelve. And we won't even mention the lady who set her lone copy of her Cannon film on fire, on set. She was pissed too.

But there are those in this film who do revere the cousins and what they were able to accomplish and the techniques they developed, a lot of which are even being used today as common practice. A lot of these 'common practices' designed by these guys seemed unethical, if not completely illegal… the words 'ponzi scheme' comes to mind as a theory to describe their movie funding model. But as it turns out their bookkeeping methods were totally illegal, which eventually caused Cannon to be the focus of an FCC investigation, which only strengthened the cousins resolve to make bigger, more expensive movies, which eventually destroyed them. And thus the 'fall' in the rise and fall of Cannon films is complete.

Giving this subject matter to a filmmaker such as Mark Hartley is akin to pitching underhanded to Barry Bonds. There's almost no way that this doc could be anything but entertaining, and it is endlessly entertaining. Part of this entertainment comes from the fact that if one happened to be an adolescent or teenaged boy around 1980, Cannon films probably had a strong hand in helping raise you. I'm not saying this is a good thing… probably just the opposite of that… but it is nonetheless the true. Who among us during that time didn't see 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' which taught us pretty much everything we needed to know about sex? Or saw something such as 'Delta Force' or 'Invasion USA' which taught us an awful lot of important facts about foreign affairs. Basically that all Arabs are terrorist and need to be on the wrong end of a rocket launcher. We also learned that white guys do kung fu best! And while everything I just mentioned might factually and morally incorrect, however Cannon did teach us a few things that are actually true. Such as Rocky Balboa arm wrestling somebody just isn't the same as Rocky Balboa punching somebody. Cannon taught us that.

The problem with 'Electric Boogaloo' is that there's simply too much to cover. Alex Winter, Richard Chamberlain, Tobe Hooper, and so many more had so many great stories to tell about the various movies they were in, that a director could probably choose just about any Cannon production a make a documentary about that all unto itself. Could a documentary be made about the making of 'Breakin' and 'Breakin II: Electric Boogaloo'? Easy, considering Shabadoo and Boogaloo Shrimp both seem to hate Lucinda Dickey. Just like everybody involved in those Indian Jones knock offs starring Richard Chamberlain hate Sharon Stone. Think Bo Derek could film up 80 minutes on the making of 'Bolero', one of the worst movies ever committed to film? A documentary on the history of American Ninja's I-V would be too easy. There's so much to cover in regards to the filmography of Cannon, and Hartley only had time to pay service to just a little of it.

Regardless of all of that, this was a highly informative, very entertaining revisit to a time when quality was not king. Or queen. Or even a pawn. And while 'Ninja III: Domination' made me throw up in my mouth when I saw it back in 1985, thirty years later I loved every minute of it. Thanks Menahen and Yoram. And rest in peace. Menahen that is. Yoram isn't dead yet.
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