Stories From The Trenches: Adventures In Making High Octane Hollywood Movies With Cannon Veteran Sam Firstenberg (2020) Book Review
Stories From The Trenches: Adventures In Making High Octane Hollywood Movies With Cannon Veteran Sam Firstenberg is a must-have for action fans and for filmmaking fans in general; packed with insightful interviews, stories and pictures you need this in your life.
About: A CAREER-SPANNING INTERVIEW BOOK ABOUT THE BELOVED HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR SAM FIRSTENBERG. A TRIP LOADED WITH UNIQUE BADASS FILM HISTORY! Sam Firstenberg is mostly recognized as one of the important in-house directors during the outrageously successful heyday of the legendary Cannon Group. The journey of this interview collection starts even before he made his way to direct box office hits just like REVENGE OF THE NINJA, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, BREAKIN‘ II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, AMERICAN NINJA, and several others. The conversations shed light on his origins and influences, including childhood memories, private biographical chapters, his years as a film student in Los Angeles, and his early work as an assistant director and technician for people like Menahem Golan, Charles Band, Ephraim Kishon, Boaz Davidson, and many more. The interviews are not chronological, but focus on every career-step, just as well as on every single movie Firstenberg ever directed until his retirement in 2002. His memories about all the projects he was involved in are packed with adventurous stories about ninjas and breakdancers, about directing action entertainment in exotic countries, and about working with numerous stars, among them Michael Dudikoff, Eric Roberts, JonRhys Davis, Hulk Hogan, Grace Jones, Nick Cassavetes, Zachi Noy, Richard Roundtree, Steve James, Sho Kosugi, and many more. Thirty years of filmmaking: STORIES FROM THE TRENCHES is also a book about the early film industry in Israel, the Hollywood star system and the no longer existing mid-budget movies. It’s about the home video boom, about the uprising and the decline of Cannon, but it also discusses the rules and traditions of the industry. Other topics are the practical way a film was put together in that era, the technical changes through the years, the different market situation compared to nowadays – and last but not least it’s a inside story about the early years of Nu Image and how Avi Lerners company continued the spirit of Cannon, but under different circumstances and times.
Review: While we’re all stuck inside for the foreseeable future you might need something to read; well if you’re a fan of Cannon films (and why wouldn’t you be?) then the new book from Marco Siedelmann called Stories From The Trenches: Adventures In Making High Octane Hollywood Movies With Cannon Veteran Sam Firstenberg is a must have.
That’s quite a wordy title but it comes from Mr. Firstenberg himself as in this epic tome he talks about how his old friend Menahem Golan said that “moviemaking is a war” so it makes total sense ad works as nice tribute to his friend.
Sam Firstenberg is the director such films as American Ninja, Avenging Force, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, Ninja III: The Domination, Revenge of the Ninja and many more.
Firstenberg always wanted to write a book about his exploits but never got around for it so thank you Marco Sidelmann for putting in such a massive effort with this instant classic.
This book has been put together through countless interviews between Marco and Sam (and several other interviewees) and by the time you finish reading it you’ll feel like Sam Firstenberg is part of the family. We essentially get a lot of his life story like how he served in the military and how his first job in movies was as a sign painter on Lepke from 1973 where he would write in Hebrew and Yiddish.
We get some incredible behind the scenes stories of the world of Cannon pictures and also about the enigmatic Sho Kosugi. Apparently Kosugi was never alone where he was always surrounded by his students and followers of martial arts. Kosugi is a man with lots of ideas and Sam talks about how as the director he had to filter them as some just weren’t feasible. We also get to hear from Kane Kosugi (who needs to be in more movies) and how his first movie was Revenge of the Ninja; he talks about how his father was a villain in Enter the Ninja but he was still a hero to him which inspired him to follow in his footsteps.
As I mentioned there are several other interviewees including Tadashi Yamashita, Michael Dudikoff, Judie Aronson and more.
There is a plethora of behind the scenes pictures which we have never seen before from our favourite Cannon films; it’s a shame they are all black and white but they are still stunning.
This is a book for fans; even in the introduction Sam mentions how critics have no interest in the types of movies Cannon made but we as genre fans are going to eat up every morsel of information.
Stories from the Trenches is meticulously researched and it must have taken Marco Seidelmann many months/years to put it together. It may not be a book that you read cover to cover in one sitting but you can keep coming back to it and reading certain chapters or interviews to give you the chance to soak it all up.
Overall, Stories From The Trenches: Adventures In Making High Octane Hollywood Movies With Cannon Veteran Sam Firstenberg needs to be on your bookshelf immediately with fascinating interviews, stunning photos and great stories about the golden age of Cannon as well as their decline. Incredible stuff.