Monday, September 4, 2017

Celebrating Umbrella's Love Of Cannon Films

If you know me, you know that I am what most therapists would refer to as "in need of help". Why, you ask? Because I have a deep love for Cannon Films.


Yes, while most people love their minds over the next big Marvel blockbuster or a new Adam Green movie, I'm still digging through old video stores and thrift stores for the most obscure and forgotten Cannon Films. Now, Marvel and Adam Green certainly know how to take care of their fans, but for me, nothing says "entertainment" than plots that involve monkeys and flame throwers backed by terrible music. I think it takes a special breed of human to really appreciate a very, very bad movie and oh boy, did Cannon release some real bad movies.


This year, mega Australian movie distributor Umbrella Entertainment has been feeding the need of Cannon Fans worldwide. Now, by now you've already picked up or watched that amazing documentary on the history of Cannon called "Electric Boogaloo". And it is indeed a great doc but the American dvd release left so much to be desired. Our friends in Austrailia took on that unenviable task and pulled out all the stops. However, be warned, you're not just getting EB as Umbrella also paired it with Machete Maidens, an equally perfect documentary about Filipino exploitation movies of the 70s and 80s, done by the same team responsible for EB. Now, you get TWO mindblowing docs on disc.



But since today's entry is all about revisiting my love of this doc, as I had previously reviewed this set, let's just take a gander at the amazing bonus features. The extended interviews and trailers on the US release are great and all, but Umbrella really went the extra mile for us by delivering some sweet features:


  • A Word With Frank Yablans (4 mins)
  • Michael Dudikoff Extended Interview (12 mins 30)
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (37 mins)
  • Cannon Trailer compile (35 mins)
  • Behind The Scenes gallery (6 mins) 
  • Cannon Stills & Poster Gallery (18 mins)
  • Electric Boogaloo Trailer

Remember, that's just the features for Boogaloo. The bonus features for Machete Maidens are just as mighty. I mean, if this were released in America, you'd at least need a second disc.  I applaud Umbrella for this amazing release because in my opinion, this is the release Cannon fans should've gotten before.

Oh but we're not done...


Around 1980, Cannon became ntrigued by NINJAS. As if breakdancing and having sex in outer space wasn't enough, they just had to corner the martial arts market. Now, we can all sit here and mock Cannon but they definitely helped initiate the ninja movie sensation sweeping Hollywood in the early to mid 80s. I'd actually be hardpressed to say something bad about their foray into this genre.

Enter The Ninja was one of their finest moments. Absolutely. A great story and fantastic action. I'm no martial arts film expert, but I think that's a win in Cannon's book. The sequel "Revenge of the Ninja" though? Not bad, it's certainly not as good as the first but shouldn't be overlooked. It's pretty clear Cannon wanted to make the star Sho Kosugi, their Bruce Lee, and find a way to make him more profitable in future films. Sadly, it just didn't work out that way as Cannon didn't know how to make homegrown talent and make them blossom into the next John Wayne or Burt Reynolds but that's just the way it was with that studio.  But that leads us the first installment of "Cannon Classics", a bluray featuring two of Cannon's finest movies. The first two movies of the "Ninja Trilogy" have been given a beautiful bluray transfer and theatrical trailers as bonus features.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Ok, Chad, that's enough Cannon for me.".

WRONG. DEAD WRONG.

So how do you follow up two fun Ninja movies in the Cannon Classics set? Simple...DEATH WISH 2 AND 3.

I mean...that's what you were thinking right? Right.


Early confession: I've never even seen Death Wish 1. Yes that's right. I'm a big phony. Be that as it may, I also never saw the sequels until I received this two disc set. Something about Charles Bronson always bothered me, so I never truly went out of my way to watch these movies and I'm glad I was able to get my hands on this set, because I can see how wrong I truly was. And yes, I am fully aware the first Death Wish and these are on totally different levels. But, I like mindless action flicks with lots of explosions, and these movies offer them up in volumes, so I'm ok with these.

As someone who has never seen them, I gotta say I was very impressed with the presentation of these movies. The picture was crisp, the audio was perfectly clear and the bonus features were tremendous.  Scream Factory released a fine edition of Death Wish 2 before this with a commentary track, trailer and an extended cut, but Umbrella is offering you even more:


  • DISC 1:
  •  DEATH WISH 2: UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT
  • DEATH WISH 3 
  • Death Wish 2 Trailer
  • Death Wish 2 TV Spot version 1
  • Death Wish 2 TV Spot Version 2
  • Death Wish 3 Trailer
  • Death Wish 3 TV spot
  • Interviews with cast members Alex Winter, Robin Sherwood, screenwriter David Engelbach - and Todd Roberts, son of producer Bobby Roberts.
  • Extended interviews from Mark Hartley's ELECTRIC BOOGALOO 
  • ACTION II: 52 minute making-of featurette with Behind the Scenes footage of Death Wish 3, Runaway Train and House
  • DISC 2 (DVD):
  • DEATH WISH 2: ORIGINAL THEATRICAL CUT
  • DEATH WISH 2: TV CUT
  • DEATH WISH 2: GREEK VHS CUT

Yes, you're getting FOUR count 'em FOUR versions of Death Wish 2. All that crazy rape and violence TIMES FOUR. I always love when we get multiple releases on a single disc(Sleepaway Camp 3 workprint is my all time favorite) but this is insane. Out of all 4, I gotta tell ya, the Greek VHS Cut, which is not of the highest quality due to it's sources, is my favorite. Not because of what's in the movie, but because it's so unique and unusual to include such a random VHS cut on a bluray.

Best part? The blurays you see above WILL PLAY ON US BLURAY PLAYERS. Fear not. You can see Chuck Bronson in all his angry glory on your machine just fine!



Umbrella has really been bringing the Cannon love and as a lifelong Cannon fanatic, I couldn't be happier. Keep your eyes peeled on this company, as their releases seem to be getting even bigger and better with recent announcements of RazorBack, Suspiria, Devils Rejects, Cat's Eye and so much more. The sky is the limit for Umbrella and I don't think that'll stop them either! Don't forget to hit Umbrella's website and Facebook page to keep up on these great releases!


Hopefully we get more Cannon Classics!

-Chad

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