Some of the most entertaining stories are not always the movies that you see on the silver screen, but rather the sordid details of how those movies came to be in the first place. Cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus are responsible for some of the lowest-common-denominator films of the 1980s thanks to their philosophy of quantity over quality during their wild west tenure at Cannon Films. In Hilla Medalia’s documentary The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films, the filmmaker takes a detour from some of the more niche territory she has covered previously to shine a light on these Israeli gentlemen that rose from smaller independent affairs to working with the likes of Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris at the height of their power. The film seems to be slightly biased in favor of the irascible duo, but there is enough dirt dredged up here that the most curious of individuals should be satisfied by this spritely paced feature.
Medalia tells this story with the full participation from both Golan and Globus, which allows her access to a wealth of firsthand accounts from their earliest days in Israel. Their love of movies is apparent even before their US success with Golan producing and directing multiple Oscar-nominated films in the 60s and 70s such as Sallah and Operation Thunderbolt. Globus is depicted as a figure who uses his experience working at a cinema owned by his father to hone his business skills that would be essential to their future partnership. In thinly drawn terms, Golan fancies himself as the idea man and Globus has to find a way to make their potential success a reality. Those who know a bit more about their backgrounds may find the omission of certain details like learning at the altar of Roger Corman a bit strange, but you get a sense that the film is interested in a more streamlined approach to most developments.
This includes their ascent to power players in the Hollywood system, by far the most interesting part of their story to most. It is a bit unclear exactly which steps had to be taken to get from Israel to Hollywood making a splash with their hit break-dancing movie Breakin’ in 1984, but once again the movie steamrolls along hitting what it believes to be the most pivotal points of their time at Cannon Films. In addition to subjects on hand, the film also features plenty of interviews from people on their team, businessmen from rival studios, and talent from their specialized brand of action-exploitation. One of the most entertaining of these is the one and only Jean-Claude Van Damme discussing how he maneuvered his way onto Golan’s radar and what that meant for his career as an action star. You also have subjects like Eli Roth on to hype up the importance of the films they produced, but he does not really deliver a sales pitch that goes beyond preaching to the converted.
The film works when it is getting into what exactly made Golan and Globus such radicals in the business. Golan was an outgoing individual who survived on handshake deals and making ridiculous financial decisions, such as a top-dollar payday to secure Sylvester Stallone to star in the notorious bomb Over The Top. You get a sense of what Globus was scrambling to do to keep the company afloat, but those who have heard the whispers about Cannon Films around this time may find it suspicious how little attention is paid to their suspected shady financial dealings. If we are being honest, these men mostly made trash films but the way they were put out into the world and beloved by a specific audience makes for a compelling watch. At the end of the day, The Go-Go Boys most of all is a love letter to cinema that offers a surface level view of a specific era in a Hollywood system in service of a more personal tale of two cousins that were always heading towards disaster. There is a lot to enjoy here, but additional research will need to be conducted to get a more well-rounded story.
The Go-Go Boys comes to Blu-Ray in its original 1:78:1 aspect ratio from a great high definition master. The film is a mixture of new footage with plenty of clips from various films and stock footage interspersed. The documentary footage looks as technically excellent as it can look in high definition. The transfer appears to have plenty of room to breathe and there are no issues with compression artifacts, banding or other digital nuisances. The footage of the films seems to be the best version of it that would be possible, but that is not always saying much in the case of some of the ragged vintage pictures. Interview segments look sleek and clear depending on the filming conditions with natural skin tones and detailed facial features. The colors featured in the film are natural and vibrant as they provide a nice visual pop on screen. Black levels are appropriately deep and give way to a nice amount of detail in shadows. I do not see how this set could have been improved visually. It’s a beautiful transfer handled with care by MVD Entertainment
This Blu-Ray comes with a serviceable LPCM 2.0 track that captures the subjects well enough. Dialogue is the driving force of the film, and it comes through cleanly enough despite it occasionally fighting for prominence with competing sounds and thick accents. The archival material does not always sound as clear, but the minor age imperfections do not ruin the experience. The music is resolved well here as it permeates throughout the room. The chatter in the public locations shown in some of the vintage clips provides a nice base texture to the proceedings. The audio track is not pushed to the limit with this content, but it delivers the information clear enough to get what you need. There are optional English SDH subtitles included for those who desire them.
- Trailers: A two-and-a-half minute trailer is provided for The Go-Go Boys. There are also trailers provided for Fahrenheit 9/11, What She Said: Pauline Kael, Who Is Harry Nilsson?, and For The Love of Spock.
- Poster: A fold-out poster of the cover art is included in the case.
The Go-Go Boys does not always go as in-depth as you may want it to, but it remains an incredibly entertaining documentary that shows the highs and lows of one of the most prolific duos of decades past. To a certain subset of film fans, the movies they created in their heyday are among the most absurdly beloved over-the-top stories that have been committed to film. This particular film offers a nice balance of the personal and the professional side of the business. MVD Entertainment has provided a Blu-Ray with a strong A/V presentation and some nice packaging. Fans of 80s film history will want to give this one a look. Recommended
The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: MVD Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.