Electric Boogaloo

electric boogaloo poster

For those of us who grew up in the 80’s, Cannon Films were synonyms for an aging Charles Bronson blowing up dozens of punks in some desolated neighborhood or the almighty Chuck Norris shooting his way through the jungle. There is however much more to the – colorful – story of The Cannon Group, which is what this unofficial documentary uncovers for us.

Originally founded by Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey, the Cannon Group was then sold to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, two Israeli cousins with a flair for business deals and extravagant movies. What most of us didn’t know though is that Cannon first gained success with skin and horror flicks. It’s however with Death Wish 2, the exploitative sequel to the cult vigilante entry Death Wish that Golam and Globus found their cash cow. From there will follow dozens of cheap, bad action movies starring the likes of Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Dudikoff and Dolf Lundgreen – among others. Supported by a blooming VHS market, these films became very popular, spawning the most improbable series including Death Wish, to American Ninja, Missing in Action, Delta Force – my favorite mentioned in this documentary being Ninja III: the Domination which features a possessed female aerobics teacher-turned ninja!!

Aspiring at becoming successful across the board, the ambitious duo ventured – awkwardly – in other genres, from science-fiction with Superman IV, Life Force (the one with an alien walking around naked)and Masters of the Universe to erotic flares such as Bolero (the one with Bo Derek riding a horse naked). Surprisingly, the two cousins even looked for critical acclaim, winning an academy award for the foreign film The Assault and a Golden Globe nomination for their adaptation of the opera Otello; they also found an unlikely hit with the breakdancing extravaganza Electric Boogaloo and even tried to adapt King Lear with French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, Alphaville) who instead delivered another of his signature experimental works.

As you probably already guessed it, Cannon Films were not particularly known for their great artistry, the studio being responsible for a “shitload” of terrible, unwatchable movies. You certainly don’t need to be a Chuck Norris aficionado to watch this highly enjoyable documentary.  There are plenty of amusing movie clips and candid interviews to keep you entertained, even though it tends to drag a bit toward the end. Most importantly, if you are a true cinephile, you should acknowledge that there is a certain level of “decent” awfulness that can be rewarding and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films makes a great case for it. While I must admit that I found a certain level of amusement – call it guilty pleasure – watching a handful Cannon productions such as Death Wish 3, Delta Force, Missing in Action and American Ninja, this documentary did make me want to further my “cultural experience” and look for the Franco Nero-starrer Enter the Ninja and its sequel  Ninja III: the Domination. And to be frank, I find that healthier than watching some of Hollywood’s Razzie Winners such as Transformers, which arrogance makes their dreadfulness even more offensive.

Director: Mark Hartley – Running Time: 1:47 – Year: 2014 – Country: USA, Australia
Click here to watch the Electric Boogaloo trailer
The following two tabs change content below.
Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.
Fred Thom

Latest posts by Fred Thom (see all)