Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Image result for electric boogaloo the story of cannon films poster

"It was almost like a bowel movement. You make a movie, flush it and move onto another one."

Electric Boogaloo may be better known as the title to the 1984 Cannon Studios sequel to Breakdance, subtitled Electric Boogaloo. The film was released just six months after the first instalments and was one of the poorest received films of the year, and ever fact, so much so that the term Electric Boogaloo is also now used to refer to any unessecary sequel and denote the idea of one that does not yet exist, for example Shawshank Redemption 2: Electric Boogaloo, or Apocalypse Now 2: Electric Boogaloo. See the idea?
This documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Cannon Studios, from two movie crazed immigrants founding the studio to its eventual fall into bankruptcy. As well as launching the careers of several Hollywood heavyweights such as Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van-Damme they turned an apostate outfit into a true powerhouse.
Mark Hartley has made more than one cult documentary (Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed) so therefore he should have a good knowledge and perhaps love for the films that Cannon produced. But if you are expecting a love letter to the studio and its work you may be disappointed. However, as I am not a massive fan of their work (it’s fine but undoubtedly dated and cheap, not that there was no effort in it) so as someone who was actually worrying that this documentary would fail to be critical of the several mistakes they had made along the way, shown by the fact that they are now a defunct company.
But at the same time it doesn’t ponder too deeply on these dark and turbulent times. There’s no denying that many people were hurt and hindered when the company was brought down by the fact that it was deemed to be no longer financially reliable, but instead there is a distinct love for the genre and it does show.
Like most of the films produced by Cannon there’s a feverish editing technique to it, ensuring a fast paced documentary that also manages to be informative as well as flat out entertaining. It may be because thirty years on from many of the cannon films’ original release, they have become the most hilarious unintentional comedies in recent memory. Some of the clips shown actually look worse out of context and in this format.
The kinetic nature of the information may be overwhelming, especially if you have no knowledge of cannon films to begin with. To be fair though this does mirror the work of the production company itself, even when they were in financial ruin and the business founders had split up and were competing directly against each other. I don’t mean that in the way that studios compete today, they would specifically release their films on the exact same day and ensure that they were compatible so to steal the exact target audience of the other by making a similar film of the same genre. Petty, maybe, financially disastrous, most definitely as not only would these competing films be released on the same day, they would flop on the same day as well.
The bizarre nature of 1980s filmmaking is also captured brilliantly. There’s no coating the fact that it was solely about money (a Cannon fan may argue otherwise, but facts raised by the documentary point to a different answer) and the word artistic integrity was cast out of the window by a rocket launcher wielded by Chuck Norris while filming Delta Force in 1986. But does it trigger nostalgia, go yes. Even as someone who only saw scraps of most of these films it triggered a wave of past influences and bad one liners.
Immensely enjoyable and unusually aware of its subject matter in perhaps one of the most perfect insights a documentary can manage.

Result: 8/10

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