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Albert Pyun, cult filmmaker behind ‘Cyborg’ and ‘Sword and the Sorcerer,’ dies at 69

A man in a wheelchair with dark hair and a gray beard wearing a green shirt and multiple leis around his neck
Albert Pyun arrives at the 2021 Hawai’i International Film Festival in Honolulu.
(Sthanlee B. Mirador / Sipa USA via AP)
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Albert Pyun, a genre filmmaker known for cult classics such as “The Sword and the Sorcerer” and “Cyborg,” has died. He was 69.

The prolific writer-director died Saturday evening, according to a Facebook post from his wife, Cynthia Curnan, who “sat with him for his last breath that sounded like he was releasing the weight of the world.” No cause of death was given.

Pyun died in Las Vegas, according to Variety, which reported that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dementia in recent years.

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“He was generous; he had a huge heart and sense of fairness; he was brilliant, his work was pure joy, and what strikes me most in looking back, Albert always had GREATNESS. And he was able to spark greatness in others,” Curnan wrote Friday on Facebook, where she regularly shared updates on her husband’s health and encouraged his admirers to send messages of support in his final days.

“I have always loved him, but 25+ years with Albert turned me into a devoted fan.”

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In 1982, Pyun made his feature directorial debut with “The Sword and the Sorcerer,” which became the highest-grossing independent film of the year in the United States, according to the biography on his website. Other standout Pyun films include “Cyborg,” “Radioactive Dreams,” “Dangerously Close,” “Vicious Lips,” “Down Twisted,” “Alien From L.A.,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Deceit,” the “Nemesis” series and 1990’s “Captain America.”

Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who starred in 1989’s “Cyborg,” honored Pyun on Saturday by sharing behind-the-scenes photos from the set of the science fiction flick.

“In great sadness and with a heavy heart I’ll say goodbye and RIP, Albert Pyun,” Van Damme wrote on Twitter.

Other industry members who paid tribute this weekend to Pyun include video game writer Hideo Kojima, indie filmmaker Michael Varrati and actor Lance Henriksen, who worked with the filmmaker on 1993’s “Knights.”

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Pyun “made the kind of fantastical, late night fare we don’t see all that much anymore and in the process made filmmaking seem possible through hard work and passion,” Varrati tweeted. “He was exceptionally kind and gracious. A cult icon with heart.”

“Albert Pyun was a go getter. He really was,” Henriksen tweeted. “His movies were so raw and on the edge. He worked hard his entire life. I really enjoyed working with him on Knights.”

According to Curnan, Pyun directed at least two movies he could not finish and had hoped to adapt into “episodic TV.” Curnan has expressed a desire to “complete and release his unfinished projects,” as well as a director’s cut of “Captain America” with an alternate ending she described as “transcendent.”

After interning for Akira Kurosawa cinematographer Takao Saito and relocating from his home of Hawaii to California, Pyun helmed more than 50 projects spanning three decades. His website bio was recently updated to read, “His legacy lives on and he will never truly die. He is with us forever.”


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