Sunday, October 25, 2009

Interview With Albert Pyun

A few days ago I received an email from director Albert Pyun in regards to a review I did last last October on his fantastic Sword & Sorcery movie, THE SWORD AND THE THE SORCERER (1982). I asked Mr. Pyun if he'd be interested in doing an interview by email and he kindly agreed. You may not enjoy some of his work, but even his lesser pictures contain entertaining qualities. Over the years, Albert Pyun has directed such movies as CYBORG (1989) starring Jean Claude Van Damme; CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990); the enormously entertaining martial arts/SciFi actioner NEMESIS (1992); and BRAIN SMASHER... A LOVE STORY (1993) starring Andrew Dice Clay. Now, Mr. Pyun is working on the long-gestating sequel promised in the end credits to THE SWORD & THE SORCERER. Titled TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE, it's about a beautiful princess recruiting a number of formidable swordmasters in an effort to free her kingdom from the grip of an evil sorceress. Kevin Sorbo stars in the lead hero role, along with Melissa Ordway, and the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. Lee Horsley also returns as Talon.

This is my first interview for this site so I hope you enjoy it. 


VENOMS5: How did you initially become attached to direct THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982)?

ALBERT PYUN: SWORD AND THE SORCERER was my conception. It took me four years to attach an investor. The same is true for most of my films.

V5: Were there any reservations at directing such an ambitious movie?

AP: None. After spending a year on the storyboards I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

V5: Did producer Brandon Chase direct any of the film? In the opening credits it says 'A Brandon Chase Film'.

AP: No, he did not direct any portion of the film. Brandon Chase's company put up the money which gave them control. I was too young to know better at the time.

V5: Was CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) ever an intimidating factor during production?

AP: No intimidation. Communication about who was making what and how was minimal in those days, compared to now. I knew the CONAN film was in the works and I held admiration for its director, John Milius. I personally hoped the film would be tremendous and did not realize my movie would in competition theatrically until later.

V5: What are your memories of working with Lee Horsley?

AP: Lee was terrific. Unfortunately, the wig he wore gave him a scalp infection. There was too much blood in the movie and he hated being put up on that cross. When I asked him to be in TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE he said, "only if you don't crucify me again".

V5: Richard Lynch is one of the screen's most memorable villains. Did you have a good experience with him?

AP: Yes. Lynch was a pleasure to work with, and an intense actor. He was a very complex performer for a first-time director to collaborate with.
V5: What are your memories of Richard Moll? With his propensity for comedy, was he a cut-up on the set?

AP: No. He was not comfortable at all with the makeup and contact lenses. Unfortunately, his cornea got scratched when he emerged from the tomb in the opening scene and he had to be taken to hospital.

V5: Was there ever a moment that you or any of the crew considered not completing the film after death of stuntman Jack Tyree?

AP: We were all terribly shaken and upset. I was not involved in the discussion of what would happen next. I waited with the crew while the decisions were made on how to proceed. It was tragic and taught me a lesson about set safety. I never had another death on one of my sets after that.

V5: Did Kathleen Bellar have any reservations about her nude scene?

AP: Only that she use a body double. I don't recall any other discussions or reservations.

V5: Were there any problems attaining an R rating?

AP: No, none that I recall.

V5: What was the critical reaction? The public was very receptive to it.

AP: Gene Siskel loved it and Roger Ebert hated it. That's indicative of the overall critical reception. The fan reaction was very enthusiastic and long-lasting to this day.

V5: Looking back, what are your thoughts on the film and is there anything you would change about it given the opportunity to do so?

AP: I have my opportunity now with TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE. In a sense, that's why I'm making this film at this time. I want to bring forth the version of SWORD AND THE SORCERER closer to the version I wanted to do back in 1981.

V5: Are there any memories, good or bad, that you'd like to share?

AP: I enjoyed the cast very much. As it was my first experience directing seasoned actors, it was both fun and magical to see them bring the characters to life.

V5: Why has there been such a huge gap between the first film and its sequel, consider the huge success of the original?

AP: The world of 1981 and '82 after SWORD came out there was a proliferation of cheesy and cheesier fantasy films and the audience got burned out on them. At the time, I didn't feel I had anything more to say on the subject. It's just that it's taken me this long to come up with the ideas and approach to the S&S genre to make it vital again. Right now I'm in competition with the upcoming CONAN remake, the remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS, PRINCE OF PERSIA, and more, and I'm enjoying it.

V5: How is the new production coming along and are you generally satisfied with its progress?

AP: I'm thrilled with the project; but the process is very difficult, as it is with most independent films being made these days.

V5: Compared with the first film, do you have more resources at your disposal in terms of time and budget?

AP: Less time, less money, but more experience and resources. I have relationships that have been built up the last 27 years that are giving me great support. I like to think that I am a slightly better director than I was back then (although most people may not agree).

V5: What can the fans of the first movie expect from this upcoming sequel?

AP: I think all fans of S&S movies will welcome this return to the spirit of high adventure when the worlds are still bloody, gory and rife with evil; but we can all have a good time cleaving our way through it.
V5: Are there any sequences in the new film that you are especially proud of and would like to discuss?

AP: I can't really speak to that yet, because we're in the middle of the visual and action effects and there's still time for plenty to go wrong. TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE is the culmination of everything I've wanted to do in film. It benefits from all I've learned through my many filmmaking experiences.
An immense thanks to Mr. Pyun for taking time of out of his busy schedule to discuss THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982) and its upcoming, and long-awaited sequel, TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE. We wish him and his crew the best of luck on this production, and all future endeavors.

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