The Perpetual Albert Pyun

No other film director has been so much vituperated against as Albert Pyun. Frequently compared with Edward D. Wood Jr., they both share a fascination for the bizarre. Pyun has a feel for the stylistic and hypnotic, changing the conventions of fiction, and makes each of his movies extreme experiences.

Unintentionally born in San Diego, he was later brought up in Hawaii, and his Hawaiian childhood was illuminated by an unending movie consumption that would turn him into a guest of the cinemas regularly used by the marines from the Kaneohe military base, where awful horror movies and tacky action films were massively projected. And at the age of nine, Pyun started shooting short films with an 8mm camera borrowed from his parents. At sixteen he embarked his mates into gang movies that he later revealed underground, while working at night as editor, sound technician or electrician for local laboratories.

Following his graduation, at eighteen he traveled to Japan. Once there, supported by ToshirĂ´ Mifune, he succeeded in getting hired as a trainee of the great Akira Kurosawa. Back in the Estates, he shot over three hundred adverts. Taking advantage on the revival of the sword & sandal gender fostered by John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian (1982), he obtained funding for The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982). Probably one of his less loathed films, a visual fest, extremely pulp, although with a touch of gore not suitable for all. Its unexpected success would raise the interest of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the owners of Cannon Films, a flashy producing company.

Under the Cannon seal, Pyum would complete some of his most widespread films such as Cyborg (1989), a vehicle for the up-and-coming martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, it was initially conceived as a heavy opera without dialogue, shot in granulated black and white, but the proposal encountered the refusal of producers, opposed to this kind of avant-garde displays.

In 1993, Pyun made another movie on cyborgs, Nemesis (1992), where scenes of gunfests prevail over martial arts, compared to his previous movies. It has a great cast of brute actors (and actresses), and is pre-empting the cyberpunk aesthetics of later movies. Its success would give way for three sequels, progressively vast, jointly shot in a flicker with an imaginary budget.

He usually has to overcome budget shortages, re-editing and other kind of damage caused by producers and distributors intendingto bury his authorship. The swiftness of his shooting of movies gives way for an avant-garde exploration, and Albert Pyun belongs to that lineage of film makers not appreciated as it should. To define Pyun, we could call him a sort of Jean-Luc Godard from the B (or Z) series. Albert Pyun has completed more than forty films over the worst circumstances.

Pyun’s creative restraints has frequently pushed him to shoot two films at once. While completing a project with a more or less assured budget (never generous though), he takes advantage from locations and technical teams to shoot undercover an “author’s fancy”, sometimes in just two or three days.

Pyun has hardly ever controlled the final editing of his films, but he always shoots in scope format, with anamorphic and wide-angle lenses, in an attempt to emulate the shot compositions and usage of framing of his master, Sergio Leone. Re-edited by producers and re-framed to satisfy the television and video market requests, a large part of Pyun films magic has gone missing. Eager to preserve the originality of his work, Pyun created the production company Filmwerks in 1994, through which he will finance a handful of titles representing an illustrative summary of his unique and captivating art.

Despite some reverses and bashes, Pyun has manage to complete Infection (2005), a film where he finally has been able to exert full control, and recovers his avant-garde impulse along with his hectic creativity. Once more, Pyun leaves the spectator in a shock following a display of his technical skill: this time, the focus is on the shooting of a definitively psychotronic plot in real time and on one sequence-shot.

Albert Pyun is already working on new projects that he describes with his characteristic enthusiasm: “Cool Air”, an adaptation of Lovecraft currently in an editing stage; a remake of Mean Guns on a Faustian tone; he is even considering the making of a surrealistic western, “Left for Dead”, that he is to shoot simultaneously with “War Zone”, a bellicose nightmare.