Director(s): Albert Pyun (Mean Guns, Nemesis, Omega Doom) Writer(s): Albert Pyun & Christopher Borkgren (both of Spitfire) Starring: Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Thom Matthews Of all the interviews that I absolutely must conduct before I die, Albert Pyun is probably at the top of my list. Unlike Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski, […]
Director(s): Albert Pyun (Mean Guns, Nemesis, Omega Doom)
Writer(s): Albert Pyun & Christopher Borkgren (both of Spitfire)
Starring: Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Thom Matthews
Of all the interviews that I absolutely must conduct before I die, Albert Pyun is probably at the top of my list.
Unlike Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski, who have mini-cult followings of people like myself who respect their contributions to the genre, Pyun is usually on the receipt of disdain from anyone who actually knows his name. While his most remembered feature is likely the Jean Claude Van Damme-springboard Cyborg, it’s his career in made-for-video cinema that earns my interest. He gained notoriety in the 90s by making a seemingly infinite amount of cyborg movies that strayed from the usual simplistic fare of the time. The straying didn’t lead to better movies. Much of the time it resulted in incomprehensible mish mashes that made his movies literally seem like they were patched together from scripts that were just lying around.
Thankfully Heatseeker, which I gleefully picked up at a flea market for $1 a few months back, is one of the better Pyun efforts. Sure, Pyun jumped on the Bloodsport-knockoff bandwagon five or six years too late, but that is neither here nor there. Heatseeker pretty much takes Bloodsport and Enter the Dragon, tosses them into a tumble-enabled dryer, adds in a cyborg element, and pays special attention to ensuring that half-naked men are constantly on display. Now that, my friends, is a formula for success.
It’s the year 2019 and very little sees to have changed. Except for kickboxing that is. World Champion Chance O’Brien (Cooke) has managed to hold onto his title despite being the last 100% human left in the sport. The sport of kickboxing has for some time allowed competitors to have 10% of their body be made of cybernetic implants. Since this is an Albert Pyun film, this is explained in a prologue. Sianon Corporation executive Tung comes up with an idea to boost the company’s stock; hold a huge tournament that marks the beginning of a switchover that allows competitors to be 50% cyborg. At the head of all this is the movie’s heel, the ripped and mechanized Xao (Daniels), who had previously been defeated by Chance. Chance and his fiancé / manager want no part in the competition, so in order to persuade O’Brien, they kidnap her. The only way that Chance will get back his now-brainwashed woman is if he competes in the tournament.
A couple notes about the movie…
– Thom Matthews, best known for nailing the role of Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th Part VI, has had roles in many of Pyun’s films in the past. I like the guy and all, but I have absolutely no idea what his character’s purpose was in Heatseeker. In a ninety-minute movie where about a third is comprised of fighting, having Matthews waste ten minutes just strikes me as a lazy way to cut budgets with dialogue-only scenes.
– Like in most of Pyun’s cyborg movies, the role the cyborg element plays is minimal. Everyone talks about how deadly the cyborgs are, but aside from close-ups of wires and metal material in fighters’ legs after they’ve been defeated, it has no real bearing on the movie. This is quite typical of Pyun cinema.
– Gary Daniels is awesome in general, but not in this movie. Instead of having Gary play the killer he’s built up to be, he spends most of the movie with a hard-on for Chance’s wife. This is Albert trying to be a “real” movie director, which he most definitely is not.
– The fight scenes range from awful, to generic, to even great at times. It’s pretty sad, though, that the finale is one of the movie’s worst.
Even though this site’s focus is the direct-to-video industry as a whole, b-movies are where the fun is usually at. That’s the exact case with Heatseeker, which is fun when it’s good and even more fun when moments come that make you say, “So THAT’S why Albert Pyun is so notorious.