Runtime: 107 Mins
What To Expect: Too much focus on early and unremarkable elements of Cannon history, but some Norris and Bronson nonetheless
This is a rapid-fire documentary chronicling and celebrating the rise and fall of Cannon Fims, the little guerilla production company that would churn out scores of B-movies in the 1980s. I’d have to say in honesty though, it isn’t vital viewing for people who are fans of that type of old and blunt actioner. Basically because Cannon encompassed more than just Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson, so they don’t get too much coverage here.
The Cannon Group and Menahem Golan I can really dig and understand. In the midst of a Hollywood that was very much snobbish and had certain ethics and codes – not to mention glass ceilings – Golan and Cannon were the outcasts. The bigwigs did not like Golan or his layman demeanour and turned their noses up at him. Cannon and his response was pretty much along the following lines: Fuck you. The Cannon group kept on keeping on and eventually climbed the ladder, but fell off before reaching the top. They were declared bankrupt and folded in 1994.
This documentary recruits an army of alumni to chime in. Producers, actors and directors, from Dolph Lundgren to Albert Pyun – there are too many to list here. They basically narrate the rise and fall of the company, this is more or less done in Golan style, rough, black humour and not taking life too seriously. Golan, mind you, neglected to take part.
There is a problem or two that some or even many might have with this feature. Firstly, I found the intercutting of various actors and producers to be too harsh. Particularly the first 20 minutes. There are too many people talking, often cutting back and forth between 5-10 people to complete the narration of one paragraph, sometimes one sentence. Secondly and maybe more importantly, for all the movies from Cannon we loved, there were probably at least five more pieces of absolute shit. And this documentary seems too keen on covering all of them. Even the old softcore porn videos. I really didn’t need to hear more than a few seconds about Cannon redubbing Swiss porn from the 1960s…!
Delta Force, Death Wish and our other favourites seem to get minimal coverage, in comparison to how important they actually were. And they obviously went to the trouble of interviewing the likes of Lundgren and Michael Dudikoff but shit, blink and you’ll miss ’em. Even so, if you rent this and fast forward to the 45 minute mark where they begin talking about Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone, for that alone it’s worth it. Alex Winter’s commentary on Death Wish 3 is funny as hell.
I suppose soon they’ll be doing one of these docs for Avi Lerner…