I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Albert Pyun retiring

tn_pyun

I heard some sad news today from Cynthia Curnan, the producer and writer of several Albert Pyun movies going back to SORCERERS in 1998. It seems that Mr. Pyun, who has recently completed his 50th movie ROAD TO HELL starring Michael Pare, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has been forced to retire from his extremely prolific filmmaking career.

I guess this has been public for a few weeks now, but I hadn’t heard about it. Pyun is a force to be reckoned with in the world of b-movies, with a few under his belt that are beloved in some circles (THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, CYBORG, NEMESIS, BRAIN SMASHER… A LOVE STORY) and alot more that you’ve at least heard of (RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, ALIEN FROM L.A., CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990), DOLLMAN, MEAN GUNS, many others). Honestly after seeing a few of those and not liking them I tried to avoid his movies, but of course I analyzed his Tom Sizemore/Steven Seagal/Dennis Hopper movie TICKER in Seagalogy and I was surprised to find myself genuinely liking his KICKBOXER 2: THE ROAD HOME.

That’s when Albert Pyun the actual person, as opposed to the mysterious director of a million low budget movies, came onto my radar. Even though in my review I wrote “The director is Albert Pyun, but I never would’ve guessed that because it’s both watchable and kind of good,” Mr. Pyun showed up in the comments. It was a really nice and self-deprecating post responding to some questions that had come up during the course of us all trashing his filmography. Then he kept coming back to answer many questions that people had for him.

In those posts he made it clear that although he has no illusions about being a great filmmaker he is very passionate about what he does and is always trying to deliver, always trying to make the next one his best. Even if we don’t like what he comes up with we should respect that this is not some cynical Asylum style sausage factory squeezin’ em out for a quick buck. Pyun is a true independent filmmaker following his weird vision and trying to get the movie made against extreme odds. And succeeding over and over again.

mp_cyborgAfter the KICKBOXER 2 incident he would email me occasionally about whatever he was working on. I remember he was really excited about TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE, the sort-of sequel to SWORD AND THE SORCERER, and even sent me in-progress clips of it to see what I thought. (I was afraid to give him any advice.) He was also really excited about putting together director’s cuts of some of his old movies like MEAN GUNS and CAPTAIN AMERICA. I wondered what the legality was on that last one, I’m not sure if it was even rights-holder-sanctioned, but it was something he insisted on doing. I really respected that he cared so much.

I also felt greatly honored when, after the death of Dennis Hopper, Pyun shared with us a story about working with him on TICKER. I always respect someone who is publicly known like him but willing to show up and comment with the rest of us on a humble websight like this. He just seems like a really cool guy and a good sport about me not liking MEAN GUNS. (Actually, don’t follow that link. I feel like an asshole reading that now.)

Anyway, this shit is terrible. I have someone close to me with a debilitating disease (not the same one) and it haunts me every day. It’s a real bummer for somebody to have to face this kind of difficult struggle and at the same time lose what they loved, what fueled them all this time, which in his case was making movies, often about cyborgs. But also you gotta look at the positive side of this thing. You gotta be in awe that he still made 50 movies. Almost like he knew he had to keep up the pace to accomplish what he wanted. And you gotta hope that modern science will help him to deal with this as much as is possible and that since he won’t be working so hard he can use the opportunity to spend more time with his loved ones.

Curnan and her colleagues are trying to do something special for Pyun so his moviemaking days can go out with a bang, or a robot doing the splits between two walls. Don’t worry, it’s not a Kickstarter. It’s an Indiegogo. Totally different. They’re going to screen ROAD TO HELL and they’re trying to raise money to have the screening at the Arclight and to fly in many of the stars of his various movies to do a big celebration of his career and a party for him. I know from his posts and his emails that he is really big on trying to show movies that he’s proud of to appreciative audiences and he’s always worried about getting the proper presentation and sound mix and everything. So reading about this campaign honestly moved me, I think it would be a great thing to do for a cool guy and I even busted my crowdfunding cherry giving a few bucks. No pressure but if you’re interested please take a look:

ALBERT PYUN CAREER CELEBRATION

Anyway, our thoughts are with you Albert. Thanks for all your hard work, your sense of humor and for sharing your passion with us, a bunch of assholes who didn’t necessarily deserve your time. You’re one of the good ones, a KICKBOXER 2: THE ROAD HOME among men. And if your career is any indication I think this disease is gonna have a hard time keeping you down.

http://youtu.be/nErgYb-stwo

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 8th, 2013 at 4:56 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

46 Responses to “Albert Pyun retiring”

  1. …very sad to hear that, Mr. Pyun is a legend. Back in the day, Cyborg actually did give me some nightmares. And I don´t mean this in negative way, hell, I was too young to criticise films back then…

  2. grimgrinningchris

    September 8th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    For better and worse, the man’s been a force in movies for ages. And anyone who’s made enough of a mark to be a recognizable name (even if only to folks like us) is to be applauded. Especially when that person isnt known for being a raving asshole (Band). Good or bad, hes beem responsible for a lot of people getting work, and sonetimes even a first break, when they mught not have otherwise. And yes, he actually DOES have a couple good ones. Plus wasn’t he the first person that succumbed to Vern’s summoning power?

  3. Albert Pyun has made some genuinely watchable movies that I have seen. I hate saying that because it also kind of puts down the rest of his oeuvre.

    Spitfire is a hilarious film and I cannot imagine that he made that unintentionally. It’s a pretty awesome ridiculous action comedy starring USA Gymnastics Women’s All-Around Champion Kristie Phillips and Lance Henrikson in an extended cameo as her father, a James Bond parody.

    Also, going through the films he has made, I see some with descriptions that make me want to pick them up. Like Raven Hawk, that has a Native-American woman fighting against Q as the villain. If anything, he does come up with some pretty nifty concepts even if the execution might falter a little.

  4. With old age I’ve learned to respect people working on the low budget level to a degree, cutting them slack that I don’t the big budget boys with their expensive toys. Yes Boll and Pyun I would dismiss critically, but in the grand scheme of things they’re harmless. (Compare that with Bay’s movies that don’t involve bodybuilder criminals.) They’re given a shoebox and do what they want with it. The fact they keep working or keep getting work, I respect that.

    Anyway I appreciated Pyun for coming around these parts and take the hits from us, talk with us. I think he truely was honored that we were talking about him on a serious, critical level (for good and worse) and not just dismissively in nature about the sort of films he cranks out. Like a fair chance instead of a rigged beating as most critics would do to a film titled say CYBORG.

  5. “If anything, he does come up with some pretty nifty concepts even if the execution might falter a little.”

    Cassidy – Oh I agree. RADIOACTIVE DREAMS immediately comes to mind, where a bunch of kids gets locked in a fallout shelter when WW3 happens. The only thing they have to read/entertain themselves were like pulp detective novels from the 30s/40s and big band music LPs from that era too, so years later they come out as basically two 30s/40s talking/dressed dudes in your Mad Max-ish post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland.

    That’s an insanely random pitch right there.

  6. The dude showed up on my long-dead blog as well, on a embarrassingly snarky review of TICKER. He was really nice about it. My heart goes out to him. Someone close to me has MS, it’s a shitty disease. The symptoms and long-term effects are crazy variable, so hopefully he’ll be one of the lucky ones.

  7. Very sad news, Pyun is one of my favourite directors. I think you should celebrate his works by finally watching his hilarious Brainsmasher movie.

  8. Not many of Albert Pyun’s movies are good, but all of them have a twinkle in their eye that makes them entertaining. Money can buy competence, but it can’t buy that.

    This is definitely sad news, but on the bright side, it gives us all an opportunity to celebrate the man and his career while he’s still with us. And since he’s the type of guy he is, maybe he’ll even pop in and enjoy it.

    And Vern, I agree with AU. BRAIN SMASHER is great. For such a silly movie, it’s got a lot of heart.

  9. BRAIN SMASHER was actually the specific one I was thinking I should see. I’ve also never seen NEMESIS. Should I watch that? Anything else?

  10. The director’s cut of Nemesis is amazing. There’s so much action that it becomes kind of absurd.

    The normal cut, though, is completely ruined by an almost constant voice-over explaining shit that doesn’t need to be explained.

  11. NEMESIS was like the poor man’s BLADE RUNNER and felt more like the real CYBORG 2 than the actual movie called CYBORG 2. That’s why it was always my favorite of his movies.

  12. Don’t have much to say about Pyunology, but I do appreciate that his CYBORG has more grunting & macho-gurgle-shouting in its script than spoken words,

    and that CYBORG laid the foundation, ish, for someone else’s CYBORG 2,

    which sucked but is important to some viewers for historic Voightsploitation & becoming-Brad-Pitt-fantasy reasons

    and which in turn laid the foundation for

    CYBORG 3: THE RECYCLER, which is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long long time. Been recommending it to everyone lately.

    Fuck you, multiple sclerosis.

  13. DOLLMAN with Tim Thomerson is pretty awesome.

  14. I’ll never forget Mr. Pyun showing up in the comments here. I don’t even remember how, but it lead to us exchanging several emails, updates on Bulletface and Left For Dead, which I never saw, and once he sent me some publicity shots of Victoria Maurette. She was the star of Bulletface, and he was really hoping she’d find success, even though, and I quote,

    “I know being in one of my films isn’t necessarily going to present her in the best light, but I’m really hoping she connects with audiences.”

    His passion for his work is palatable and infectious, and in our interactions he was always hilarious and self-deprecating. So sorry to hear about his health troubles.

    Nothing but love and respect for you Albert! Thanks for everything!

  15. Brodie -ironically NEMESIS 2 feels more like CYBORG 1.

  16. I remember watching Pyun’s DOLLMAN and thinking that the name of the hero, Brick Bardo, sounded familiar. Turns out that it has been used in a whole bunch of Pyun’s other films, including CYBORG (Rolf Mueller’s character), RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, BLOODMATCH and NEMESIS 3. The name is a tribute to a dude named Joe “Brick” Bardo, an actor/camerman who helped him out early in his career and was involved in a bunch of exploitation films in the 60s and 70s. He was also the cinematographer on the 1976 ALICE IN WONDERLAND porno/musical, Vern, so if you found yourself admiring the framing and composition of those blowjobs then you have Brick Bardo to thank.

  17. Wow that sucks. Okay, everything I know about MS I know from THE WEST WING, but it has been praised as being very accurate about this topic.

    I also gotta admit that I haven’t seen many of his movies. Maybe just 2 or 3, but I saw him joining some comment sections (of course including this one here) and he always came across as unbelievable nice, humble and self aware, doesn’t matter how awful the other commenters treated him.

    Damn, I sound like he is already dead, sorry for that.

  18. I remember watching Captain America and Nemesis quite a lot years ago. I was fascinated by the visuals. The stop motion cyborgs, the scary fucked-up look of Red Skull.

    Gonna have to try and find those director’s cuts.

  19. I’ve never seen Nemesis…s, Nemesi, any of the Nemesis movies.

    But I always remember the VHS cover looking kind of cool – it had trench coated, sunglasses wearing cyborgs with guns. It always stuck in my mind as a film that would be awesome, but I was too young then to rent it.

    I’m in the periphery in the Pyun filmography in general. He’s a director that’s been an influental fixture in B-movie filmmaking, and he often gets mentioned when discussing 80’s and 90’s action cinema. But now that I’m looking at his IMDB credits, I realize that I’ve never seen *any* of his film. Not even CYBORG or THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER. And I like Van Damme, and fun 80’s fantasy films.

    I’m saddened to hear the news. Wouldn’t want that shit happen to anyone. But to celebrate the man’s accomplishments, guess it’s now time for me to fix my cultural oversight and have a Pyunathon.

  20. I think THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER is the only Pyun movie I’ve seen. And since it’s his first I can’t really comment on his career. But I liked it.

  21. The VHS era had the best damn video covers. I remember going to the video shop and being mesmerized with the covers of films like Robot Jox, Slaughterhouse, Deep Star Six and Doc Savage (only to have my friends and family veto me and rent Pretty Woman instead).

    I suppose such greatness is best left in the past. Trying to recreate that era would only lead to more neo-grindhouse fiascos.

  22. Mouth, I have to thank you for your Cyborg 3 recommendation, as a result of which I recently watched the entire trilogy. What a fantastically weird bunch of movies!

    CYBORG is a really solid b-picture executed with great style, and when I saw Albert Pyun’s name on the credits I immediately thought of his appearance on these here pages and what a cool guy he was. CYBORG 2 is obviously pretty shitty, but it has enough WTF moments to make it entertaining, and I especially enjoyed Jack Palance going mega in his role as a giant set of lips.

    But yeah, CYBORG 3 is great fun altogether, almost reaching Miami Connection levels at some points. It starts out sort of half-decent, but by about 15 or 20 minutes in it seemed to me that everyone involved just kind of gave up on trying to make a proper movie, but unlike a lot of crap movies it never gets boring. I thought Billy Peltzer did a great job in this, even though it must have been completely obvious at the time how bad it was going to be. It also has over the closing credits.

    So thanks, man. I know I’m a little off-topic here, but Vern, if you are planning a Pyun retrospective I’d definitely second Mouth’s recommendation that you take a little left-turn into the rest of the CYBORG trilogy. It would be great to see what you make of these weird-ass flicks.

  23. Man, I made a mess of that HTML. I meant that this movie has probably one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard at the end. Sounds like the dude is making the lyrics up as he goes along.

  24. Blapps – Speaking of awful songs in b-movie end credits, I couldn’t help but think of the end credits song from AMERICAN NINJA 3. I haven’t seen that movie in years and still have a hard time shaking the awfulness of that song from my memory banks. Possibly the worst thing George S. Clinton has ever made.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJe7OCLzm1g

    Which is a shame cause any DTV afficionado knows that he has made some genuine gems in his time despite not being funkadelic.

  25. I agree with doing a Pyun retrospective here. But please watch his “Max Havoc: Curse of the dragon.” That one was great!

  26. I’ve been depending Pyun since Kickboxer 4… That’s a fun movie made with lots of determination and old college try. While Pyun has his limitations if more directors were as creative we wouldn’t be staring down at generic movie after generic movie. I recommend Cyborg (guilty pleasure), Kickboxer 2 and 4, Bloodmatch (Guilty pleasure again), Nemesis and Mean Guns. He did make some bad movies but I often got the sense it was because he tried to do much rather than too little, there were a lot of pretentious speeches and serious attempts at character but it often didn’t work often his cast stunk on ice.

  27. I can also wholeheartedly recommend RADIOACTIVE DREAMS if you haven’t seen that one. It’s just jam-packed with ideas, some of them genuinely good, all funny, and all production-designed to within an inch of their lives even though I doubt the whole budget would cover a week worth of cocaine on a Michael Bay set. Somewhat amateurish, but with a ton of unnecessary effort and obvious love on every frame. What could be more Pyun than that?

  28. I’m very sorry to hear he’s retiring because he has multiple sclerosis and not just because he’s getting old

  29. There’s a Director’s Cut for Mean Guns? Anyone know where I can get my hands on this?

  30. It has been brought to my attention that article purporting to be about me exists on your site. Beyond the fact that it has erroneous and libelous information that is unverified and slanted by those who have hijacked the page. The page is controlled by those from Guam or live in Guam in an attempt to smear me because they are trying to discredit my upcoming testimony on Guam that will lead to criminal charges of these individuals . I will be asking my attorney to look into your site to seek damages incurring to my reputation by the posting of libel and slander.
    best,
    Albert Pyun

  31. At the risk of being sued, huh?

  32. Yeah, I’m wondering what that is about too. That doesn’t sound anything like the Pyun we know, both in terms of content and well…grammar. Maybe it’s some new kind of political motivated spambot, that is able to recognize names in headlines? I don’t know.

  33. I’m not sure what the above comment is about, but it doesn’t come from the same ip address or email as previous communications from Albert and doesn’t sound like him. Also, it would have to be a pretty elaborate takeover of his Facebook page by these people in Guam because it has a video he made for a film festival he couldn’t attend talking about being sick and that it is “very unlikely” he’ll be able to continue filmmaking.

    If you’re wondering like I was, no, the ip address is not in Guam, it’s in L.A.

    Anyway, I wish that meant I’d been tricked and he’s really not ailing or retiring, but for the time being I don’t think that’s the case. I’ll let you know if there are any updates or if I get sued for saying nice things about Albert Pyun.

  34. Well I wasn’t expecting that.

    Broddie, that tune is amazing. I mean, obviously it’s the pits, but its earnest yet hopelessly under-reaching bombast is also sort of awesome. It’ll be stuck in my head for days…

  35. When I think I’m pretty well versed in B movies, Vern slaps me upside of the head with the real deal. I liked DOLLMAN when I saw it back in the day, but CAPTAIN AMERICA was awful, very stingy with action, as I recall, although on a modest budget maybe about the best anyone could do. I remember that the “coming soon” movie poster with the big shield and capital A symbol appeared in at least one movie theater in the DC area in the late spring or summer of 1990; next thing I knew, it was months later and the film had gone straight to video. I’m not a big SWORD AND THE SORCERER fan, but some fellow Robert E. Howard fans like it better than the Conan and Kull movies. The video cover for RAVEN HAWK looks familiar, and I know I saw it on VHS, but I don’t remember anything about it. Vern, I’m going to check Netflix and catch up with other Pyun productions, maybe watch CAPTAIN AMERICA again and see if I was too harsh in my earlier judgment.

  36. It has been brought to my attention that article purporting to be about me exists on your site. Beyond the fact that it has erroneous and libelous information that is unverified and slanted by those who have hijacked the page. The page is controlled by those from Guam or live in Guam in an attempt to smear me because they are trying to discredit my upcoming testimony on Guam that will lead to criminal charges of these individuals . I will be asking my attorney to look into your site to seek damages incurring to my reputation by the posting of libel and slander.

    best, Albert Pyun apyunfilm@aol.com

  37. “Previously, on Albert Pyun Retiring…”

  38. Sooo, Pyun just posted this pic from his upcoming CYBORG NEMESIS on his Facebook:
    https://scontent-a-lhr.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/10339555_10152688088196259_8700088769305911971_n.png?oh=1a7ad2af299f5a585578eef4f2e4a824&oe=54BDC58C
    Are my eyes deceiving me, or does this mean that Seagal appears in this?

  39. Apparently so. IMDb lists him as “rumored.”

    TICKER reunion!

  40. Thank you for all the well-wishes. To update everyone….I went through all kinds of crazy tests and treatments. Most of what I have is permanent. However, I was lying in bed one day and suddenly got the urge to make a movie, something I’ve been lucky to do continuously for more than 50 years, since I was 10. I suddenly found that making movies is my passion and making movies had a good effect on my health, more than the medicine and other treatment. It made my life with the disease bearable. While I have limits on what I can do, I find that I have more energy and strength when making movies. So…I’ll try to get back at it although my endurance, ability to walk and use of my brain is severely diminished now. The worst thing for me is the loss of motor skills and memory. It’ll get worst over time, but until that day, I will keep making movies. They’ll have to tear the camera out of my frozen MS hand before I give up my purpose in life. Again, thank you for all your kind words and they have given renewed strength as well. My first post-MS movie screens Oct 16th in Las Vegas as the opening night selection of the Pollygrind Film Festival. More to screen in the coming months. Its THE INTERROGATION OF CHERYL COOPER and it was a test to see if I could manage to do it even while battling my symptoms. Thanks, Vern for your kind support. Thanks to everyone here.

    Albert Pyun

  41. You’re a class act all the way, Mr. Pyun. May you make a hundred more movies.

  42. Good to hear that something like MS can’t stop you from making movies. Thanks for the update and good luck with everything!

  43. Thanks Albert, congratulations on getting another movie done. I’m glad you’re able to keep going. Looking forward to CYBORG NEMESIS, obviously.

  44. Thank you all again. It isn’t easy but it seem profane to stop that which has given me life. Some days I am so in pain and so weak that life is almost too much. In these darkest moments I find solace and strength in knowing if I can just get up and endure the pain, I can make a movie. It’s how I know thousands of movie lovers all over the world, it’s how they can touch me and hopefully I them. And I’ve come to appreciate the process of making movies. Although it never meant a career or a paycheck. Truth be told I never believed I would make two films let alone 50. Though I am old and feeble, I feel like a child when I make movies! Thank god I have that still. I might have early onset dementia so I know it won’t last. But until I can’t…

    Albert

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>