Today is a sad day for action fans as the legendary producer and director Menahem Golan passed away at the age of 85.
Golan was the co-founder of The Cannon Group and during the heyday of the genre in the 80’s he brought us the Missing in Action Trilogy, American Ninja, Enter the Ninja, Delta Force, Invasion USA, Bloodsport and many, many more.
He bought the Cannon Group production company in 1979 with his cousin, Yoram Globus, and ran it throughout the 1980s. Apparently because of their fast, low-budget style of filmmaking, they earned the nickname the Go-Go Boys.
The company would grow in the 80’s to become one of the biggest studios and produced 35 pictures in 1987 alone. According to IMDB Cannon developed a large, independent, and international empire, with production, distribution, and exhibition interests across Europe.
Cannon showed that you could make an entertaining action movie for $5 million which still has an influence on today’s action genre, specifically straight-to-DVD fare.
Golan and Globus hit their peak with Cannon in the mid-1980s, signing Sylvester Stallone for a record US$13 million in 1983 for Over the Top (1987) and purchasing the UK’s Thorn-EMI Screen Entertainment in 1986.
Al good things come to an end however and Cannon started to have financial troubles; the company would eventually go out of business in 1989 but its legacy lives on with some of the hugely entertaining movies in their library.
Golan declared a desire to produce “artier” works, dissolved the Golan-Globus partnership, and established an independent production company, 21st Century which eventually specialized in direct-to-video offerings. In the mid-90s, this company also closed and Golan returned to Israel and began directing musicals on the Israeli stage.
Personally, I still watch the MIA films and Delta Force regularly, not to mention Bloodsport and many other Cannon films. Golan at one point wanted to make a Spider-Man film but it never materialised.
Menahem Golan was a man who wasn’t afraid to take risks and although sometimes they may not have always paid off, his contribution to action cinema will never be forgotten.