Albert Pyun dead: “Nemesis”, “Cyborg” cult filmmaker was 69

Albert Pyun, a genre filmmaker whose extensive body of work includes cult favorites such as Cyborg, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Nemesis and 1989’s Captain America, died Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 69 years old.

Pyun was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dementia a few years ago. In recent months, his wife and producer Cynthia Curnan has regularly updated on his condition. More recently, she implored fans to share personal messages with the director after his health took a turn for the worse.

Curnan confirmed Pyun’s death via Facebook, writing, “I sat with him for his last breath which sounded like he was releasing the weight of the world.”

Working largely on a low budget for a direct-to-video market, Pyun developed an immersive form of dreamy lighting, post-apocalyptic decay, and surreal, balletic action that has garnered an avid following among genre film audiences over the years. In his four-decade filmmaking career, Pyun has worked with a who’s who of action icons, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert and Burt Reynolds, as well as other collaborators such as Snoop Dogg, Charlie Sheen, Ice-T and Lance Henriksen, Ronny Cox, Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, Rutger Hauer and Dennis Hopper.

Born on May 19, 1953 in Hawaii, Pyun grew up as a military kid and lived on bases around the world before his family settled back in the Rainbow State. After seeing one of his short films, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune invited Pyun to intern in the production of Akira Kurosawa’s 1975 feature film Derzu Uzula. After Mifune left the project, Pyun instead worked on producing one of the actor’s television series, receiving guidance from Kurosawa’s regular cinematographer, Takao Saito.

After returning to Hawaii to shoot commercials, Pyun came to Los Angeles. He began his film career in 1982 with the high fantasy epic The Sword and the Sorcerer. Budgeted at $4 million, the feature was an unlikely commercial success, grossing $40 million at the box office.

Pyun developed a close relationship with Cannon Pictures and was recognized for his ability to pull off imaginative productions with quick turnarounds. He directed more than 20 feature films during the 1990s, including his four-part Nemesis series and 1990’s Captain America, the first feature-length live-action adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero.

After the turn of the millennium, Pyun began self-financing his projects, producing films such as Road to Hell, Bulletface, and Invasion. Late in life, the director continued development and tinkered with ongoing creative endeavors while maintaining medical treatment.

According to his wife, Pyun had been working on two unfinished feature films before his death in hopes of reworking the projects into a six-episode television series. “For Albert, failure was never an option,” she wrote.

Pyun is survived by his wife Cynthia Curnan. Albert Pyun dead: “Nemesis”, “Cyborg” cult filmmaker was 69

Charles Jones

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