It’s profoundly odd to me that I can just up and email Albert Pyun about matters like this but I’m glad that I can. A couple of days ago I caught wind of a rumor that a discarded workprint of the 1989 Jean Claude Van Damme flick, Cyborg, had surfaced. I have a tendency to rag on Albert and because of that I feel bad because he’s a really nice guy. In spite of my feelings about the greater body of Albert Pyun’s work, he has a couple of flicks that I actually really like, Cyborg is among them, and a recent one, Bulletface (Review) that reviewed really well here. He tends to find himself in the middle of catastrophically difficult productions and Cyborg was one of them. In the late 80’s, Cannon Film was coming apart after some extremely poor business decisions that mostly involved Superman 4: The Quest For Peace where they essentially took a generous budget for their Superman movie and broke it into smaller pieces to make other movies leaving themselves with not much left to make their Superman flick. The end result was embarrassing for everyone involved. A planned sequel to Masters of the Universe and a Spider-Man feature, both to be directed by Pyun, eventually siphoned millions out of the Cannon bank accounts and never went anywhere, costing the company greatly and once again, leaving them with not much money to make something out of nothing. Out of these troubles, Pyun made Cyborg using sets, costumes and props intended for those failed projects. The script was written in a weekend, Van Damme was cast (instead of Pyun’s original choice of Chuck Norris, who was probably too busy planning the secession of Texas from the Union) and in three weeks, the entire movie was in the can. Depending on how you look at it, Cyborg is either a pathetic dog with a nigh-incoherent script or it’s a testament to the ingenuity of b-movie filmmaking. I lean toward the latter. The guy took bits and pieces from a He-Man movie and a Spider Man movie and made this morbid document of anarchy. The version that hit theaters in 1989 was grimy, nasty and extremely violent and this is after Cannon and Van Damme took it away from Pyun and engineered something that they thought would be palatable to the box office. It didn’t help and the finished product required substantial cuts to pass with an R rating. I emailed Albert to get the low down.
Yes it’s true. My longtime composer Tony Riparetti was cleaning out his storage and discovered this VHS of my last cut of Cyborg, before JCVD and the studio took over the film from me. The cut is before it had to make MPAA cuts to get an R (for graphic violence). It’s the only cut that exists of what I wanted the film to be. The cut was telecine from the editorial 35mm work print and the soundtrack is a temp mix with the comlete Riparetti/Saad score which was replaced in the release version. My cut also has a voice over narration by Van Damme’s character.
And it isn’t an alternate cut but my last cut, hence, i guess my director’s cut. Which Van Damme and Cannon hated.
Albert is being evasive about how you get a hold of a copy because, quite frankly, I’m not sure who owns the rights to this movie and the way this is playing out, it sounds like Albert and Curnan Pictures are making bootleg versions of the movie available to interest parties. Then again, that’s all just speculation. Everything at the Curnan site seems a bit bootleg to me. If you’re interested in a copy of Pyun’s Cyborg director’s cut, you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you want in. I’m sure they’ll provide the details.
One final note from Albert:
It is a bootleg in the sense that any old recording that gets out is a bootleg. But its not pirated as this is the ONLY copy that exists and its my legal cut to have per my directing deal. I just want it to get and be seen by Cyborg fans and maybe offer a comparison to what has been out there all these years. Also, all the movies at Curnan Pictures are owned by Curnan Pictures. None bootlegged or pirated. Though sometimes, I have had to get a version and then re-do it closer to my version so its a bootleg in that sense. I see it as more renegade myself.
Edit: If you’re planning on leaving a lengthy comment below about how Guam hates Albert Pyun, stowe it. I seriously don’t give a fuck. Albert is remarkably easy to get a hold of and I suggest you take it up with him rather than smear your shit on my comments.