August 11, 2014, - 9:27 am

Menahem Golan: Legendary Israeli Producer Dies – Maker of Delta Force, Death Wish Sequels, Exposed Islamic Terrorism

By Debbie Schlussel

Out of law school and in the midst of my MBA studies, I went to Los Angeles for a job interview with Cannon Films, the movie studio founded by Menahem Golan (also spelled, “Menachem Golan”), who died Friday at 85. He’d already left the company and would soon return to his native Israel, where he served as a fighter pilot in the War of Independence. But Golan’s contributions to the movie world are legendary, if often unfairly panned by mainstream (translation: liberal) movie critics.


My favorite Golan movies truthfully depict what we face from Islamic terrorists, and Cannon Films–a partnership between Golan and his cousin, Yoram Globus (also spelled, “Yehoram Globus”)–was a pioneer in that respect. In my top two Golan movies, I put 1977’s “Operation Thunderbolt” a/k/a “Mivtsa Yonatan,” a Hebrew-language film telling the story of the Islamic hijacking of a plane full of Israelis and Jews and the successful July 4, 1976 raid on the Entebbe, Uganda airport, in which most of the passengers were rescued (and in which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s brother, Yoni (or “Jonathan”), heroically gave his life to save them).

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I also put “The Delta Force” up there. As I’ve noted on this site several times, the movie was unfairly maligned by movie critics as a schlocky, cheesy action film. But, in fact, the beginning of it accurately depicts how Hezbollah Islamic terrorists hijacked TWA flight 847 and brutally tortured to death Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem. And I’d choose the movie–which I re-watched recently–over most of the new movies I’ve seen in theaters, this year or last (or the years before those). The same goes for a lot of Cannon films written, directed, and/or produced by Golan, who was prolific in the hundreds of films he made, pioneering both Israeli cinema and transforming the American moviegoing experience.

If you look at Golan’s hundreds of movie credits, it includes many movies, including all of the “Death Wish” sequels, the “Missing in Action” films, and the two “Breakin'” movies (“Breakin'” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” which I often joke that I’ve never seen, but actually I have, cheesy as it was). And the “Breakin'” movies, though panned by critics (and the second one really stank; the first was fun empty calories) were indicative of Golan. He was able to spot American trends–like breakdancing–and quickly seize on them for movies. The beginning of the first “Breakin’,” which came out in 1984, includes a street breakdancing scene in which an unknown extra, named Jean-Claude Van Damme, is at the front of the crowd of spectators, dancing and clapping. Van Damme went on to be one of the central action figures in Golan’s Cannon films, along with Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, and Charles Bronson. Golan was able to spot and fuel the action star theme of many ’80s movies using these stars and make movies cheaply. And he was able to create stars like Van Damme, who enjoyed a long action career because of Golan’s sixth sense in plucking the guy out of nowhere.

In many ways, Golan was ahead of his time. He saw that superhero franchises were the wave of the future in movies and nearly snagged the right to make the Spiderman films. He made a “Captain America” movie, as well as “Superman IV,” also heavily panned. And although the best known movies produced by the Golan-Globus team were these trend-aware ’80s films, they also made masterpiece films, such as “King Lear.” Almost every major star acted in his films.

Golan was a secular Jew, very secular as the “public viewing” of his body before his funeral would indicate. (Jews do not have such “viewings.”) But he was a proud Israeli and American patriot, not only serving to help establish Israel’s independence, but also showing the world why Israel and America were in the right and warning us of the dangers of Islamic terrorism long before that was fashionable and in movies you’d never see coming out of Hollywood today. His movies had moral messages and stark good versus evil themes. He didn’t make us “sympathize” with Islamic terrorists and criminal thugs, as movies today often do. That’s what the movie critics really hated about him. And what I loved.

Menahem Golan, Zichrono LiVrachah [Of Blessed Memory–what we Jews say instead of Rest In Peace].

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18 Responses

Didn’t Golan and Globus also create the Power Rangers, that my boys and many others grew up watching and loving?

Karen G. on August 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

There was a 80’s English language comedy about people starting a modern kibbutz that was schlocky but enjoyable.I was a kid when I saw it on cable but haven’t seen it since.I thought Golan produced it but can’t find it on hid IMBD page.
Doe’s anyone have the name if the film.It would be much appreciated.

Sedona on August 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

Looks he made alot of gems with clear heros and villians. Love the JCVD movies as well as Death Wish Franchise.

Delta Force was schlock, but how can you hate on alot of 80’s action movies that showed America with it’s head up.

helpyoself on August 11, 2014 at 11:23 am

Well, the Power Rangers were an Americanized version of a Japanese show (still running, I understand), but perusing the credits for Golan and Power Rangers turned up no links between the two. The two credited creators, however, are also Israeli Jews: Egyptian-born Haim Saban and Shuki Levy. Of note, Haim Saban has said in interviews that “I’m a one issue guy, and my issue is Israel”

R: Sadly, Saban is a far lefty who supported Obama, and even after crticizing him, supported him again. He also funds the lefty, anti-Israel Saban Center. If his issue is Israel, perhaps he means destroying it from American soil. DS

Robert on August 11, 2014 at 11:39 am

I think that “Breakin’ 2” came out the same year as the first one. He really knew how to churn them out.

DS_ROCKS! on August 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

Debbie I’m so glad that you wrote about the passing of Mr Golan. I loved his movies The Delta Force, Missing in Action and the Death Wish sequels. I can even forgive him for Superman IV. You took me home with the break dancing with the movies Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2. Also didn’t King Lear win the best picture Oscar? In the three movies that I listed like you said Mr. Golan didn’t try to make the audience feel sorry for the terrorist/criminals. You knew who the bad guys were and that they were going to get theirs. Sadly in the current age of Hollyweird you don’t get movies like that anymore. Oh well there’s always my VHS/DVD collection. May Manahem Golan rest in peace.

Ken b on August 11, 2014 at 11:47 am

He also made one of my favorites with Van Damme called “Bloodsport”. It starred Van Danme and was based loosely on life of Frank Dux who is Jewish.

Glen Benjamin on August 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

He was able to produce his films inexpensively for the most part and retain talent. I respect him as a successful businessman and supporter of Israel.

Worry on August 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Z”l Menahem Golan. He was responsible for all the fun I had in the 80s that didn’t involve booze, drugs or illicit sexual practices.

TBH, I suspect that “Team America: World Police” was a tribute to the Cold War Golan-Globus productions.

The Reverend Jacques on August 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I have one of his movies in my DVD collection, “THE HANOI HILTON”.

I probably have some others, too, but that’s the one I remember.

That’s pretty neat about him being a fighter pilot during the 1948 war for independence!

John Robert Mallernee on August 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm

His was the best one of the Entebbe movies. A great man and a fun film maker. G-d Bless.

Occam's Tool on August 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Liked The Delta Force, but Stone Cold is my favorite. Yeah Brian Bosworth starred in a failed attempt at acting, but the cast included Lance Henricksen and William Forsythe as the evil members of the biker gang. Both are very fine actors.

Peter on August 11, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Menachem Golan-may his memory be for a blessing.

JeffE on August 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I will never forget two scenes from Delta Force: 1) American…I wanna talk to you…
2) Go to hell Hashim………….
Debbie: Didnt he also produce La Bamba with Lou Diamond Philips?

Rex on August 12, 2014 at 1:43 am

He was a visionary. The first of his movies I saw was Delta Force. Since then, whenever I saw his name on a movie, I made sure that I watched it. Hope you are fighting Islamaic terrorists in Heaven. Menachem Golan, you were an inspiration. Thank you.

Clint Guillory on August 14, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Although I loved “Operation Thunderbolt”, my next favorite Golan-Globus film was “Runaway Train” with John Voight. Unlike the lousy recent remake, this film was beautifully filmed, with no extraneous dialog. The kind of film that tells a story with what is left unsaid, rather than endless babbling by the actors. Compare the final sceen in this film to the final sceen in the remake, and Golan’s brilliance is obvious.

Interestingly, many of the actors Golan employed are the ones who have had the guts to come out as conservative and/or pro-Israel in that toilet known as Hollywood.

phillip slepian on September 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm

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