2001 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #35
The reason Albert Pyun cops such a bad rap is because the studios would often take away his films and recut them. This is why the last several films of his career have been entirely independent. Wherever he's been able to Pyun has put together director's cuts of these titles. Cyborg and Captain America have been two of his more prominent ones and one of my personal favourites is TICKER. This is probably his most extreme alternative cut in terms of being significantly different to the version released by Nu Image and Artesian Entertainment. After taking the film away from Albert Nu Image changed the setting from Chicago to San Francisco and used a shit load of archive footage from other films to pad it out. I recall watching the home video version and it was pretty awful... ie another typical direct-to-video piece of fluff. Nu Image recut Albert's film to capitalise on Steven Seagal's name. This was at a time when Seagal's career was transitioning from A grade Hollywood to D grade gutter trash. The Nu Image cut perpetuated that transition buy making it a Segal vehicle but if they had let Albert's vision become realised the film would have been a respectable addition to his catalogue. With an impressive cast also including Tom Sizemore, Dennis Hopper and Ice-T, TICKER is a well constructed action-thriller about an IRA terrorist playing games with an elite bomb squad. This version sees Seagal stepping back into a co-starring role rather than the lead and it plays out in a far more subtle and engaging way. Pyun's knack for action is strong and his new cut is well edited and makes more sense. All of the performances are decent... Hopper, as usual, is shit at accents and his Irish tongue is atrocious. Nevertheless his onscreen presence is affective and considering that he only worked on the film for one day, what Pyun has achieved with him is a testament to his skill. Albert's cut does suffer from a weird and irrelevant opening credit sequence and finishes on a rather tacky end scene but just about everything in between works for me. The only problem with these unsolicited director's cuts is that Albert is forced to use footage from wherever he can get it. There's a hell of a lot of work-print and temp-footage, which make the film look like a 3rd or 4th generation VHS dub. Pyun has made the most of it, though, even if there are some moments lacking audio... but these things can't be helped. If only he was given the opportunity to release his director's cuts with an official budget. Maybe then the world would come to understand the man's talent some more and he would receive the respect he so deserves.