The heart of the die-hard, ninja movie addict in me skipped a beat when I received word that I would be sitting down for a chat with the Godfather of the genre, Sam Firstenberg.
Marco Siedelmann & Sam have compiled what I feel is a kind of splendid maelstrom of biography meets chronological history meets retrospective documentary the size of the phone books from the days of yore. To read it is to be immersed in warm, gooey, Cannon goodness. The question put simply…how can you resist?
Indeed any resistance is futile when it comes to this true completest’s tome of not merely Firstenberg’s exciting, excessively driven, and beautifully enigmatic cinematic career, but it also runs side by side with accounts from the stars, the stunt men as well as many of his peers and collaborators.
Sam Firstenberg is mostly recognized as one Cannon’s most important in-house directors during their outrageously successful heyday of the 1980’s. 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, and AMERICAN NINJA, amongst others.
The conversations in the book 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 movie stars, among them Michael Dudikoff, Eric Roberts, John-Rhys Davies, Hulk Hogan, Grace Jones, Nick Cassavetes, Zachi Noy, Richard Roundtree, Steve James, Sho Kosugi, and many more.
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 ascension 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 film market situation compared to nowadays – and last, but not least, it’s an inside story about the early years of Nu Image and how Avi Lerner’s companies Nu Image and Millennium continued the spirit of Cannon, but under different circumstances and times.
In the Trenches: Adventures in making high octane Hollywood movies with Cannon veteran Sam Firstenberg, is about the war all filmmakers fight, trying to bring about the seemingly impossible and mysterious aligning of the planets of both art and commerce that have created one of mankind’s contributions to the universe…the movies. Or in Sam’s case…ninja movies.
GET IT NOW!!!