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Patty Fantasia | Director Albert Pyun’s Journey on the ROAD TO HELL

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Director Albert Pyun’s Journey on the ROAD TO HELL

By Patty Fantasia

Director Albert Pyun is currently celebrating the limited release of his 50th film ROAD TO HELL, which has already taken major prizes at several film festivals and had its second Las Vegas screening on March 3rd at the AMC 18 theatre located in Town Square.

The first screening took place as a red carpet event during PollyGrind in 2012 where it took home several awards including Best Actor: Michael Pare, Best Actress: Clare Kramer and the Newcomer Award for Roxy Gunn.  Pyun also picked up Best Use of Music Honors while his wife Cynthia Curnan, PhD won for Best Writer.   Now that the final edited version is complete and the film has a distribution deal in place other cities planning screenings include: Palm Desert, Los Angeles, Emeryville, and San Francisco in California followed by Honolulu, Hong Kong, Portland and Seattle and Mount Vernon in Washington.

roadtohell mar2012 02 copy


Inspired by Walter Hill’s cult classic STREETS OF FIRE starring Michael Pare, Diane Lane and Amy Madigan, Pare reprises the role of soldier Cody, who is now heading back to Edge City over two decades after the original film was set.  Although it was said that Pare was ambivalent about recreating the role when approached by others he got excited after hearing Albert’s plans for his character. “I think he liked the idea of having an opportunity to bring his loner hero to the screen with all the experiences and knowledge he had 25 years later,” Pyun said then added he had been thinking about doing a film with Michael for years since they first became acquainted in 1995 in Los Angeles.  Pyun thought about the concept for ROAD TO HELL and discussed it with his wife Cynthia until the idea of a film about Cody’s life journey began to take root. “When I met Michael in Spain in 2007, we discussed a film in more specific terms. I told him my idea and he agreed with it. It's rare one gets to revisit an iconic character decades later,” Albert continued.



“I saw STREETS OF FIRE at a private screening at Universal in 1984 when I was editing my second film, RADIOACTIVE DREAMS. It was similar to STREETS OF FIRE in that it used Rock music to stylize the story telling. So I was blown away with SoF, it captured everything I was trying to do with RD. Over the next 25 years, the idea of doing a stylized film based on music stayed with me,” he added.

Clare Kramer and Michael Pare in Road To Hell copy

2Roxy Gunn as Ellen in Road To Hell

Michael Pare in Road to Hell

Clare Kramer in Road To Hell


Born in San Diego, Pyun was raised in Hawaii as a military brat where he delighted in viewing horror and action films regularly featured at the cinemas frequented by the marines at the Kanohe Military Base.  His fascination with these types of movies led to the development of his own unique highly stylistic shooting style as a filmmaker. He began shooting short films at the age of nine with an 8mm camera then at sixteen began making gangster movies with his friends that were shown underground.  During this period he also worked nights as an editor, sound technician and electrician for local laboratories.

After graduating at the age of 18 he traveled to Japan where he was hired as a trainee of Akira Kurosawa before returning to the US and shooting over 300 adverts.  At this time the revival of the sword and sandal genre stimulated by CONAN THE BARBARIAN in 1982, Pyun got financing for his feature THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, which became a huge hit.  Albert shared that he considers getting the green light to make this movie was his defining moment as a filmmaker.  “When it played in my hometown theater in Hawaii I felt I had achieved every goal I had set for myself.  Since that film, everything has been gravy,” he said. The movie’s box office success brought him to the attention of Cannon Films which produced some of his most well known films including CYBORG, which featured then up and coming martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme, and NEMESIS.

His reputation has been built on making action/martial arts/fantasy type films for over three decades yet he doesn’t feel that many changes have occurred when it comes to these types of films. “The movie business is surprisingly the same as it’s always been. Those genres appealed to me as a kid growing up. Growing up in Hawaii gave me assess to films from the Far East. They are a big influence,” he acknowledged.

Roxy Gunn and the Roxy Gunn Project in Road To Hell


Because of his quirkiness Pyun is not surprised to find himself often compared with filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr.  He related, “I think it’s apt as I am as driven and eccentric a filmmaker as Wood. I think that’s why I am compared to him. We both see the world differently and bring that ‘oddness’ to our films.”

This individual style and approach to filmmaking has often forced him to overcome several challenges in getting his movies made including: lack of funding, editing issues and other types of problems caused by producers and distributors.  As a result Pyun doesn’t hesitate to say that he wishes he could go back and do all of his films again without having to compromise in order to get them made.

However, in spite of this Pyun doesn’t have a lot of regrets with regards to projects he hasn’t been offered or had the chance to make since he’s never had much interest in doing studio films nor has he been driven by receiving fame or huge pay days. “ I've been lucky enough to make the films I wanted to make. The only films I wish I had gotten to make are YELLOW JERSEY with Christopher Lambert, JOHNNY GUITAR with John Travolta and RAIN with Kelly Lynch.  Just those three. I'm very happy with my career. No regrets,” he insisted.  In fact, Albert’s new project is a high adventure film with Sasha Mitchell and Clare Kramer that will be shooting in China thanks to the support of partners Ace Studios, Mike Leeder and Henry Luk who are looking forward to helping the filmmaker achieve his next vision.



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