If there’s one regret that I have, it’s never getting to meet legendary filmmaker Albert Pyun. The 69-year-old Hawaii-born filmmaker died on Saturday according to his wife Cynthia Curnan, after years of battling dementia and multiple sclerosis.
Pyun rose to excellence since his 1982 feature debut, The Sword And Ths Sorcerer, and continued churning out low-budget films with brevity and success that made him a star in the independent film arena. That legacy ultimately continued with films like one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s earlier breakout hits, Cyborg, the Matt Salinger-led 1990 rendition of Captain America, two DTV sequels to 1989’s Kickboxer starring Sasha Mitchell, and all four installments of the action-packed cyberpunk franchise, Nemesis, among others.
He had directed over three dozen features, and even had plans to remake Cyborg at one point, as well as pay a revisit to the Kickboxer franchise that would have hopefully seen Mitchell back in action. A little less than a decade ago, Pyun announced his incoming retirement from filmmaking after enduring about five years of symptoms due to pain and numbness, but that didn’t stop him from continuing some of his work alongside Curnan, who has been operating his social media pages and keeping fans updated regarding Pyun’s health, and even his films while tending to his care at home for some years now.
“I sat with him for his last breath that sounded like he was releasing the weight of the world.” said Curnan, via Facebook.
This loss hits. Two of my favorite Pyun films off the top of my head are Cyborg and Nemesis because of my affinity for 90s action and sci-fi growing up. To see the love and outpouring this weekend for Pyun and seeing the longstanding effect he’s had on a generation of cinephiles like me is pretty uplifting, and I certainly hope Ms. Curnan feels that support all the same in the process of mourning.
Our condolences go out to Cynthia Curnan and to all of Pyun’s friends and loved ones. He will be missed.
BG lead image: Facebook
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.