The filmmaker behind the Death Wish sequels and such 1970s and ’80s Cannon Group actioners as The Delta Force the Lou Ferrigno-led Hercules died today in Jaffa, Israel, Haaretz reports. Menahem Golan was 85. The big-personality Israeli producer, writer and director was behind dozens of films during a nearly half-century career, featuring stars including Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. He also directed many of the films, including 1986’s Delta Force with Lee Marvin and Norris, and Stallone’s Over The Top the following year. Those and many others were produced by Cannon Entertainment, which Golan started with his cousin Yoram Globus. Cannon’s output also included such decidedly non-action fare as Bolero (1984), starring Bo Derek and George Kennedy; the Mario Van Peebles starrer Rappin’ (1985); A Cry In The Dark (1988), starring Meryl Streep and Sam O’Neill; and Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear (1987). But the action genre was Golan’s sweet spot, and he revisited it often as director, writer and/or producer: American Ninja, Masters Of The Universe, Kickboxer, Missing In Action, King Solomon’s Mines, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Invasion U.S.A., Bloodsport, Runaway Train.
A documentary about Golan and Globus’ company, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films, is having its international premiere at Toronto next month.
Golan was born as Menahem Globus on May 31, 1929, in what is now Tiberia, Israel. He was a fighter pilot during the the Israeli war of independence before moving aboard and working in theater. He returned to Israel in 1963 and made his first movie, El Dorado, starring Chaim Topol and Gila Almagor. The following year he founded Noah Films with Globus, with whom he would partner for decades. Golan earned Spirit and BAFTA Film Award noms during career, along with the Jerusalem Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.