Albert Pyun announced recently that his X-rated director’s cut of Cyborg had been found. He has said this is close to his ‘Opera’ version of the film that he had originally envisioned; which he is promising to release soon as well as this director’s cut. This is the last version of the movie before Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sheldon Lettich stole it away and re-edited it. The film was discovered by Tony Riparetti, Pyun’s longtime composer. It is a VHS work print, so quality is less than stellar. The running time for Pyun’s version is 88 minutes without credits versus the studio’s 86 minutes with credits.
See the comparison video after the jump —
Here’s the last fight scene between Gibson and Fender. You’ll notice a different score, some different angled takes being used but all in all they are very similar. The biggest difference seems to be the absence of Fender’s fall and ‘fake’ death in the puddle shots from Pyun’s version. I also think the cutting of the fighting is slightly better in the JCVD/Lettich version, the ‘dance’ between the two as they go back and forth is a little more suspenseful. The Pyun version also features Van Damme lifting his knife into the air as lighting strikes in the sky. Being as this movie was originally planned as Masters of the Universe 2 I immediately found myself adding “by the power of Grayskull” in my head. Of course who knows how it would have turned out if Pyun had been allowed to finish his cut. It’s definitely exciting when discoveries like these are made available to the fans, it’s kind of like finding a completely new JCVD movie.
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UPDATE: Ok, so I’m catching heat from the Van Damme Fan Forums (thevandammefans.vandammefan.net) for saying JCVD and Lettich stole the film away from Albert. Perhaps a bad choice of words but, no matter the motives/circumstances, the movie was stolen, or if you like, taken from Pyun. Here’s what they say happened:
Lettich: Cannon had a test screening of the original cut of “Cyborg,” which I attended. Out of 100 people in the test audience, only 1 person gave the movie a favorable rating. It doesn’t get much worse than that, except for the fact that the audience was laughing hysterically during the final fight between Gibson and Fender.
A few days later JC returned from Thailand, where he had just finished filming “Kickboxer.” He watched the film and agreed with the test audience’s assessment, and then he volunteered to re-cut the movie, for free. The Cannon executives gave him six weeks to try and fix it, and said they would cover the minimal costs to do so, which included hiring a couple of assistant editors. JC asked me if I would help him, also for free, and I said I would.
At the end of those six weeks Menachem and Yoram looked at the new cut and agreed that it was better. To be honest, they knew JC was on his way to becoming a major movie star and wanted to stay on good terms with him, so they probably would have said yes even if they didn’t like his cut. However, it seemed obvious to me that they genuinely did like his cut better. At that point they released funds to cover the final post-production, all of which I supervised. They also paid my friend, Kevin Bassinson, to create a new score, a synthesized “action score” rather than a rock ‘n’ roll score. They didn’t, however, want to spend money to strike a new poster, which is why the poster that went into movie theaters said the music was by Jim Saad & Tony Riparetti rather than by Kevin Bassinson.
As I explained earlier, JC and I didn’t “steal” anything. The movie tested poorly, simple as that. The studio screened it for a target audience, and the audience did not like what they were seeing. Maybe Albert is right when he’s says that the movie may simply have been “ahead of its time.” It’s possible that post-Millennial audiences may respond better to his darker, more violent, and more cynical vision. JC and I made it work as an action movie for a late 80’s audience, and the fact that the movie did well enough to spawn a number of sequels indicates that our endeavor succeeded on some level.
Pyun: Sheldon is correct. Cannon hated my version so they asked me to step aside. As I said JCVD was extremely respectful to me. And I concur with as well as they created what Cannon and the fans wanted from a JCVD movie after Bloodsport. I didn’t deliver that movie so I got yanked…and not for the last time! It happened again just a year later on Captain America and then two years later on Nemesis. Somehow my vision doesn’t ever jive with the studio’s view. I think its a different world now. People love their mindless excess now and a movie like JCVD would have not been as well received back in the 1980’s.