50/50 Review #9: Gymkata.

Have you ever thought to yourself: "Man, if only there were a movie that combined gymnastics, karate, ninjas, a dangerous game that makes no sense, government interference in other countries, and a hot Asian princess"? Then do I have a movie for you! Gymkata is about an Olympic-bound gymnast named Jonathan Cabot (Kurt Thomas). The government want to put a "star wars" satellite station in the country of Parmistan, but in order to do so, somebody must win "the game" which allows them one request. They call on Cabot, whose father was formerly an operative with them, to use his skills to win the game. They even bring in the princess of the country, Rubali (Tetchie Agbayani), to help train him. But it's not that easy. Zamir (Richard Norton), the right-hand of the Kahn (Buck Kartalian), wants an uprising, and refuses anyone else to win the game... for some reason.

The story makes absolutely no sense. Even watching it, I had no idea why they had chosen Cabot to go to this country and play in this game. And that brings up the game, which also makes no sense. The rules are never clear. And apparently no "outsider" has ever won the game. How can they? The army of ninjas goes out to kill them every time and won't let them get very far. Granted, this could be part of the uprising, though the king guy is a moron who could sentence Zamir to death or something... nope. Not even when Zamir attacks him and attempts to kill the contestants right in front of him, clearly defying him. Even then, he's like "I trust him completely."

The bad guys are total idiots, as well. They shoot one guy with arrows, and its clear they have more. Yet when they go after Cabot, who is WIDE OPEN AND IN CLEAR SHOT, they just chop the rope (when he's almost to the other side) or set a rope on fire (when he's almost to the top of the cliff). And then a handful of these revolutionary ninjas are taken down in one hit by an old man. Most incompetent villains ever.

Not even the filmmaking is any good. There are clear edits in the middle of the action (which I'll get to next), making things choppy. There's a moment when a character is strangled to death, but the camera stays on him a little too long, because for about a half second, you see the actor start to move again. It's clear the director had no idea how to handle a camera, nor did he think ahead on how he would edit his scenes together. The action itself is godawful. The mixture of gymnastics and karate is painfully cheesy. And it's clear that he never hits a single person. Hell, there's one time where his foot doesn't even come close to a guy, yet the guy still falls over. I swear, there was even a moment where Cabot is sitting flat on the ground, and his legs shoot almost straight up in an impossible angle from how he had his body; it had to be fake legs.

Nothing about this movie was any good. The directing was awful. The camera work was amateurish. The acting was painful. There is no character development of any kind. The action was just plain stupid. The story made absolutely no sense. The people of this country were confusing--they had foreign names but were a bunch of white people, with only a few that weren't (I mean, the king was an old white dude, but had a hot Filipino daughter). The king himself was goofy and useless, like some crazy billionaire decided to make his own country, but was really incompetent at it. The revolution of Zamir made little sense, too. Gymkata is a terrible film in every regard. And every single second of it was freakin' awesome.

A Hot Mess

(P.S. Seriously... if you like so-bad-they're-good movies, you need to see this immediately.)


  1. I agree with every word of this review. I own a copy of this film on VHS. I am not ashamed of this fact.

  2. I was all set to write a comment saying "Everything you say is right, but it's awesome!" Nice job setting me up for that one.

    My favorite moment is when he arrives in the village and a pommel horse just happens to be in the middle of town so he can fight the bad guys. Brilliant.

    1. Easily one of the greatest moments in cinematic history.

  3. Steve: Indeed.

    Dan: lol, yeah, Steve and I were talking about that scene earlier. Random pommel horse in the middle of town. There's just so many nonsensical things in this film, it's impossible to name them all.

  4. Personally, I like the idea that there's a country out there with a ninja-to-citizen ration of 1:1. Parmistan has so many ninjas, they hire ninjas to stand along the route of The Game holding semaphore flags!

  5. There's a good reason I haven't seen this yet, but I have no idea what it is.

    On the bright side, the wife and I watched Birdemic last week, so I've got that going for me.

  6. Are you old enough to remember the Mr. T cartoon from the 80s? It pretty much did this too.


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