Captain America (1991)


Some fans of classic bad movies feel that the age of the legendary awful B-movie is largely over. They ask, where are the crapmeisters of today who can compare to the legendary directors from the golden age of bad movies — the modern day Ed Wood, Larry Buchanan, or “One Shot” William Beaudine? Among those who have dared to face the worst that modern directors have to offer, one name that often gets mentioned as a reliable source of stinky cinema is a Hawaiian action-movie director named Albert Pyun. So I figured a comic book movie by Pyun is probably something you shouldn’t rent unless you’d be disappointed if it didn’t stink to high heaven. Especially if Pyun is working for Menahem Golan, as he is in this case. So, was I disappointed?

Yes, I was! This movie isn’t nearly as awful as I was led to expect. I want my money back!

Sure, it’s got occasional moments of wonderful stupidity in it — the most preposterous being when, after Cap is discovered frozen in the arctic (the movie shifts from the ’40s to the ’90s while he’s frozen solid) and the block of ice containing him is brought into a tent, he breaks out from inside the ice by sheer manly muscle without thawing out first. If only the rest of the movie had lived up to the standard set by that scene. And sure the film is, shall we say, budget conscious (dig the muddy audio), but the basic moviemaking skills here show a workmanlike competence that is not at all what a fan of bad film wants to see. Pyun is often accused of making no sense, but he used someone else’s screenplay this time, and it’s mostly coherent (though stupid.) So as far as I can see, Ed Wood can rest at ease in his grave, until the day when the saucer men resurrect him as a zombie, or make exotic dancers gyrate atop his coffin lid.

It’s bad enough, though, that it was never released theatrically, being shunted directly to video instead... which now in the DVD era is common enough, and no great mark of shame for a low-budget film, but back then was the true mark of cinematic loserhood.

Well, if Pyun isn’t up to the job, maybe Ted V. Mikels can step up, now that he’s resumed making films. Somebody sign him up for Daredevil 2!

Oh God — I just discovered something I didn’t know, in the IMDB... I have a cousin who was an actor for a while, and it turns out he actually appeared once in an Albert Pyun movie! Dangerously Close (1986). Wow, I’m vicariously touched with stardust. (More recently, having left acting behind, he wrote a book about organic gardening and edible-plant landscaping.)

Update: wow, I actually got in touch with Mr. Pyun on a blog forum... and it turns out that even though my cousin’s parts were small, Albert remembers him very well, all these years later.

But what does John Stanley say?

captures the flavor of the original... grand, uninhibited comic-book action... a satisfying adaptation.