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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 03.28.08] post apocalyptic apocalyptic scifi

Year: 1993
Director: Albert Pyun
Writer: Albert Pyun
IMDB: link
Amazon: VHS link
Trailer: link
Review by: Christopher Webster
Rating: 5.7 out of 10

Once George Miller stumbled upon this notion that a post-nuke wasteland could stand in nicely for the wild west there was no stopping many directors from making the westerns they always dreamed of but knew could never turn a profit in a world were the genre was very much out of vogue.

Hence Albert Pyun's long cycle of post-apocalyptic, kung-fu, scifi, action films which were all really just westerns in disguise. Unfortunately though, while his first film, Cyborg, managed to blend all these seemingly disparate genres together seamlessly to produce one of the best post-apocalyptic popcorn flicks of the 80s, others like '93's Knights haven't aged quite as well and the genres don't mix as well as I would have liked them to. However, in terms of schlocky PA fun, Knights ended up being a worthy addition to my Wednesday night marathon and, with Kris Kristofferson and Lance Henriksen slumming it as enemy androids, a somewhat interesting relic of a strange time when science fiction cinema was still trying to find a winning formula.

There is no denying how much Knights screams "Western" at every moment. In fact from the first sweeping shot of John Ford's second home, the amazing Monument Valley, the film announces its intentions with the all the glee of a petulant child wanting to be all grown up like daddy. Of course many PA films have used the New Mexico terrain to stand in for a devastated earth, but not quite like this.

Pyun makes no attempt to hide the fact that he's using the second most recognizable symbol of the Western genre next to the cowboy hat and many shots are framed in such a way that the landscape starts to remind you of George Stevens' Shane or something. And this is from the crappy pan and scan VHS version too so you can imagine what this would look like in widescreen.

But anyway, onto more interesting stuff like giant blood sucking robot arms and high -flying kung-fu action.

Because, yep, these Cyborgs know kung-fu and are not afraid to use it! Except unlike Cyborg, where martial arts was the main event but still somehow bound by reality, Knights is pretty overzealous about its acrobatics. In fact we're really approaching the area of Asian fantasy where one punch can send you flying 20 feet into the air and, when needed, the hero can leap over mountains. It dually helps and hinders the experience of watching it because, while on one hand it's kind of silly watching Cyborgs dressed in Arabian outfits flying and flipping through the air, it's the film's absurd recklessness that makes it a tolerable watch. All in all, a very different experience than watching Pyun's more sombre Nemesis which came out the same year.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the cyborgs are vampires? Yet another fascinating absurdity that, in my view anyway, has helped the film become something other than your standard PA fare. See these Cyborgs, which took over the earth after it was devastated by a nuclear war, have been modified to live forever as long as they maintain a steady diet of human blood drained from live humans. Ridiculous I know, but still pretty cool if you think about it... which I do most of the time.

At the end of the day, I think if Knights ever got a proper R1 DVD release through some more adventurous boutique home ent. company, I'd probably show up at my local Best Buy on the morning of its release. Of course I'd also be the only one there and probably get a weird look from the cashier but you know what, I'm okay with that.

Knights is weird for sure but also brimming with fun which is another reason why I think Pyun deserves way more credit as a cult favorite.

Recommended Release: Nemesis

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Albert Pyun (13 years ago) Reply

Enjoyed reading the review. And you're right in that I was trying to do a re-imagined western but really never quite pulled it together. Really was a mish mash of too many ideas and too much ambition which created an awkward and, at times, painfully stupid result. I got into a big "disagreement" regarding the final shape and style the film should have and the filnal cut reflects this but honestly, I was out of my mind to mix and match too much. Wish you could see the widescreen version as it was shoot anamorphic 2:35 and is visually gorgeous. Thanks for your review. I will try to do better work.


agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

Thanks for the insights Albert. I enjoy the film from time to time. True it may not be your best film, but it's super fun to watch.

Any word on a widescreen DVD release? I'd be extremely interested to see your prefered version.


Albert Pyun (13 years ago) Reply

I have no idea if a widescreen video master even exists. Virtually all my films have been shoot in 2:35 but none have gotten released in the that screen ratio. It wasn't until "Invasion" (aka as Infection) and "Left For Dead" that I've had enough control to insist on letterboxing. I haven't done many commentaries for the same reason. Distribs agree to not edit the commentary but they almost always do especially as I "illuminate" why a scene or sequence is the way it is on release. The worst was my experience with Weinstein and Dimension on "Adrenalin" where they just butchered the film and reset a mystery set in Romania to...Boston?? Hopefully these situations are behind me now. The films hereafter might not be good (forgive me) but they at least represent the film I made.


Darian (8 years ago) Reply

I loved the Knights. Its one of my favorite movies, it´s really shame that the whole trilogy wasn´t filmed. I first saw it dubbed in Czech as a kid and now I still keep watching it in english. I would love to at least read the scripts to the other two movies. To find out how it all was supposed to end. Gabriel and Nea story deserved more screen time.8o)))
p.s. sorry for my english 8o)))


agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

What! No chance of a widescreen release of Nemesis!? That's the worst news ever!


Gerick (12 years ago) Reply

i heard that there was a DVD release in south Africa and Europe is there by any change a release in the united states? full screen or wide


keron (1 year ago) Reply

Where can I get OST from this movie?

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