Review Date: 3/29/22
Cast: Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, Eli Roth, Michael Dudikoff, Jean-Claude Van Damme
Cannon Films made a huge contribution to 1980's pop culture and was a powerful independent studio that attempted to turn Hollywood upside down. Whenever you saw a Golan-Globus production at the theater, you knew exactly what you were going to get: low budget exploitation schlock aimed directly at mainstream audiences. This documentary follows the rise and fall of Cannon Films, which was a collaboration between Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Their complementary and conflicting personalities led them to great success, and eventually financial ruin. A common thread throughout the film is that Yoram raised money and Menahem spent it. Menahem's intense passion for making movies outweighed all other considerations, and as budgets increased and stakes became higher, it was inevitable that he would become a casualty of his own success. Perhaps the most telling moment is when he says that "Being a filmmaker requires complete commitment. Sell your family's furniture. Kill your aunt and steal her money if you have to." Ultimately, he sacrificed his home, family, friends, and the company he built in the pursuit of making movies, and his reckless behavior continued even after leaving Cannon. Yoram definitely comes across as the more level-headed and business-oriented one, but he had his own problems to deal with as Cannon collapsed under mismanagement, plummeting sales, and fraud.
It's a reasonably well-made and interesting documentary, and while it builds up to an emotional reunion between Golan and Globus, it becomes clear that there's nothing left between them. Menahem refuses to acknowledge his mistakes and learn from them, while Yoram just sadly shakes his head and walks away. It comes across as more of an elevator pitch meeting than a family get-together, and the entire encounter ends the film on a sad and unsatisfying note. It's nice to hear from others that worked with them during their prime, and both Michael Dudikoff and Jean-Claude Van Damme have entertaining stories to tell. Eli Roth also provides some contemporary insight as a filmmaker who grew up watching Cannon movies and the impact they had on him. However, for me the biggest disappointment was the lack of focus on the films themselves. I suppose I'm more interested in the films Cannon produced rather than the people behind them. I remember Cannon being a dominant force throughout the 80's, although their reign at the box office really only spanned 3-4 years. Film historians and 80's pop culture buffs might find the Golan-Globus story interesting and nostalgic, but otherwise this documentary can be pretty bland.