Albert Pyun, Captain America and The Sword and the Sorcerer Director, Wants to Hear From Fans in His Last Days

Albert Pyun, the filmmaker behind The Sword and the Sorcerer and the Nemesis franchise, is in poor health, and according to his wife, the Hawaiian-born filmmaker would love to hear from fans of his work as he nears the end of his life. Pyun, who also directed the 1990 Captain America movie starring Matt Salinger, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago, was admitted to hospice care on November 8. According to a Facebook post by his wife Cynthia Curnan, he has been enjoying messages from supporters, and they have helped alleviate guilt Pyun has been feeling because he was unable to complete two films before he had to stop working.

Now home from the hospice unit, Curnan wrote yesterday that he had a good day, and shared a photograph of the filmmaker looking comfortable. Given that, it may be as good a time as anyone gets to send another wave of support his way.

Pyun was born in 1953 in Hawaii, and got his start early. In high school, he met Japanese film star Toshiro Mifune, and was invited to Japan to do an internship. 

Pyun was originally set to intern on the Akira Kurosawa film Dersu Uzala, but after Mifune pulled out of the film, Pyun ended up working with him on a TV series instead, where he learned from Kurosawa's Director of Photography, Takao Saito. When he started up a film career of his own, his first film turned out to make a big impression: The Sword and the Sorcerer earned more than $30 million at the box office and cemented Pyun as a talented genre director who could get a movie made on a small budget. 

The Sword and the Sorcerer also netted a Saturn Award for Richard Lynch (for Best Supporting Actor), and put Pyun in contention to direct bigger projects. Throughout the '80s, he would flirt with mainstream success, following up schlocky genre films with more broadly appealing films like 1986's Dangerously Close and 1987's Down Twisted. Among the genre titles that stick out are Alien From L.A., which appeared on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Cyborg, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Ten years after The Sword and the Sorcerer, he would release Captain America, a made-for-TV effort starring the son of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. Both Captain America and Cyborg would see director's cuts released to DVD and Blu-ray in 2011.

Throughout the '90s, Pyun continued to work on low-budget genre and exploitation films, few of which drew rave reviews, but all of which turned a nice profit. Along the way, he collaborated with actors like Teri Hatcher, Andrew Dice Clay, Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, and Burt Reynolds. He directed Kickboxer 2 from a script by David Goyer, and directed James Coburn in The Fifth Corner, an NBC TV show.

In the 2000s, Pyun developed a reputation for making inexpensive action movies, often direct-to-video, which starred actors in later stages of their careers. Ticker, which was a huge hit in the video store market, starred Steven Seagal, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Hopper, Jaime Pressly, Nas and Ice-T. Kevin Sorbo and Michael Paré appeared in Pyun's Tales of An Ancient Empire. In some markets, that film was released as The Sword and the Sorcerer 2, since it is set in the same universe. This fulfilled a sequel tease in the credits to the original movie.

He announced his MS diagnosis in 2013, but was able to complete The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper for a 2014 release. Interstellar Civil War, which was released in 2017 and starred Kenzie Phillips and Brad Thornton, would be Pyun's final completed film.