Sunday, August 30, 2009

Auteur Watch - Albert Pyun

You know, there's a reason some directors are maligned the way they are. Rowdy Herrington comes to mind. Oh sure, his 1992 Gladiator has become a cable mainstay, but clearly, Ridley Scott's 2000 Best Picture winner Gladiator is the alpha Gladiator... at least it was until 300 showed up on the scene. Anyway, the point being, Mr. Pyun shows no signs of repentance... but redemption may be in the cards. We'll get to that later.
So let's get right to it! Which decade do you suppose is Pyun's favourite? Is it the go-go 80s, when he first tricked people into thinking he's a director? It was the era of Cannon... I actually remember the ad for this one! If I remember correctly, a car's driving by this chick and they smack her in the ass. I believe with some sort of ass-smacking stick, as though it was a game of mailbox baseball. Ah, the good ol' days. He got Kathy Ireland's film career going back then! Or rather, I suppose it's that he simultaneously started AND ended her career. Probably for the best.
Or perhaps it was the fecund 90s? He was able to hide under the rubric of independent filmmaker for a while... until about the time of Mean Guns, that is. Not to mention Omega Doom which features quite possibly the best malfunctioning cyborg ever committed to film... oh, that's how it was SUPPOSED to act? Forget it. Save your rental credits... HE did Brain Smasher? Oh, surely there's a co-director... nope, just Dice. Wow. Who knew?
I mean, my God! He's got 27 credits logged in for the 90s! And Spielberg, like a fool, took four years off to start his own studio! Get a clue, Steve!
And now comes the 2000s, or the new aughts as I prefer to think of it. He's slowing down a bit now, but still picking the A projects out of the D bin. Bulletface? Love it! Probably not as good as Pinhead, but you can't have it all, am I right? And what A-list Hollywood director other than Andrew Davis wouldn't want to work with Steven Seagal? I bet Jamie Pressly won't return Pyun's calls anymore... I betcha.
If I had to guess, I'd say the 80s are Mr. Pyun's favourite decade. This was when a film was a film. Say what you will about Cannon, they never skimped on the Panavision cameras and the big gaudy 70mm-esque film stock. As they probably said, film is king. No, the 80s was quite a time to get started in film, indeed. Now, any Albert Pyun with a cellphone and about 5000 dollars of computer equipment can be the next big YouTube sensation. But Mr. Pyun's got an ace up his sleeve! That's right... something called Tales of an Ancient Empire. Tell me more... They say it follows his directorial debut, 1982's The Sword and The Sorcerer. And while it's a little late to ride Lord of the Rings' coattails, and the film does feature the best lineup of 1994, as The Onion might quip, it's got one thing going for it: it's cheap. If someone's willing to put this turkey into 14,000 theaters some weekend, well, stranger things have happened! Like The Final Destination franchise. I gotta go. I just gotta.


Albert said...

Hey Movie Holligan!

This is Albert "deserves his bad rap" Pyun. Enjoyed your blog and while the 80's were certainly sweet, I much prefer the 21st century.

I also agree with that in today's world everyone can get his or her vision out there. I think that's a good thing. If nothing else, my films can hide amongst the tide of bad films.

I never saw myself as a "Director" but more of a filmmaking virus or, if you think I'm more insidious, cinematic ebola.

But I really do enjoy the process of filmmaking and have been making films non-stop since I was 10 years old. Even back then, I was making a couple of shorts a week.

With regard to "Tales of an Ancient Empire", yes, by all sane standards of film budgets...its cheap. I'm sure one day of set lunch on Final Destination 3 is bigger than my entire budget. But I try to look past impossibility to do my best with what I have. And, as you've pointed out, I frequently crash and burn.

But Tales isn't just another widget. It is made with all the creative wilpower of the entire cast and crew to try to make a Lords of the ring on a $1.98. We know what we're up against and have no illusions believe me.

We can't deliver wall to wall CGI or even scenes with hundreds of extras. We can't compete with all the big action set pieces or thrilling martial arts battles from Asia.

But what we have tried to do with Tales, which I think will be the crowing glory or infamy of my career, is to say, what we can do is have a good story with good characters and tell it in a unique style that avoids as many fantasy genre cliches as possible. We won't take ourselves seriously but we will have characters you will hopefully care about.

What we dream it can be is surprising (hopefully in a good way!) and original. We're like a one legged ninja in a kingdom of big budget (anything more than 1 million) blockbusters and we have no numbers and only our feeble wits to try to survive.

We will try to be very clever and imaginative. Ideas don't have to cost money. And we are working harder than we have ever worked on any film I've ever made. I can promise you that. If you love it (love may be too strong a word) great, if you hate it...well, we tried our best.

Ultimately, I am like that Black Knight in Jabberwocky...I will continue making films until I'm a mere squirming torso.

Keep up the good work here. Don't let anyone's criticism ever stop you. I haven't.


island girl said...

In 2004 Pyun went to the US territory of Guam and, along with film producer John Laing, convinced the Guam government to put up a $800,000 loan guarantee to finance their film Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon. In his effort to convince Guam officials to approve the loan guarantee, Pyun told them that he and his producer (Laing) had a "sterling financial record" and that neither he nor John Laing had ever defaulted on a loan. In 2006 producer John Laing defaulted on the film's loan, and Guam lost its guarantee. According to a 6/13/07 article in The Los Angeles Times, Laing blamed Pyun for the failure of the film. The case is currently in litigation, both in California and in Guam.

island girl said...

And what did Guam get after Pyun and Laing ripped thru our Island with their lies?:

After defaulting on his film loan, causing the Government of Guam to lose its $800,000 guarantee and Comerica Bank to foreclose on the film, Producer John Laing formed a new company in Canada, Up North Entertainment, Inc., and bought back the rights to the film for $83,000. After losing $800,000 on the film, Guam's share of the foreclosure sale money was $9,090.63.

cynthia said...

If the Movie Hooligan Blog does not allow anonymous comments , then why is "Island Girl" allowed to trash Pyun anonymously? If a person wishes to trash another person, they should personally stand behind their words.

For all we know, "Island Girl" is an ex-employee holding a grudge about about not getting hired for the Havoc job. What sort of situation would cause a person to still be ranting years later. It sounds personal to me.

Pyun left the film "Max Havoc" before the Guam loan went through and he told Guam officials to do their due diligence at the same time. There were early signs of trouble when the promised production funds did not come through while the film was being shot.

Many cast and crew did not get paid. Pyun did not get paid. Yes, the producer blamed Pyun and everyone else, except himself. Isn't that typical?

Pyun was not on the loan, he was not named in the lawsuit, nor was he deposed by either side. He spent $20,000 of his own money to pay the crew and editor he had hired himself.

He had believed in the project in the beginning and talked it up just like on every other film. He has made almost 50 films since 1982.

I wonder how that could keep happening if he were not trusted by financial institutions and the cast and crew members that work on his films over and over again.