Gymkata begins when the Special Intelligence Agency (SIA) approaches Jonathan Cabaot (Kurt Thomas) asking him to play “The Game”. The game forces all foreigners who enter the tiny mountain-side nation of Parmistan to play what essentially turns out to be a test of endurance through a deadly obstacle course (picture a Survivor challenge only with people attempting to kill you). The winner of the game gets to live and is granted one wish. The agency wants that wish to be a US installed satellite monitoring station for the STAR WARS satellite program (which monitors foreign missile attacks).
Jonathan agrees to participate in the game as his father who was also an SIA operative, played the game and Jonathan believes him to still be alive. Soon after Jonathan and his partner Princess Rubali (Tetchie Agbayani) arrive, they are attacked by opposing agents. Jonathan and the princess run and fight their way through the streets only to be saved by the SIA agent that hired them. Shortly after this, Jonathan and the princess attend the games opening ceremonies.
At the ceremony we’re introduced to the rest of the games participants (well, the two who matter). There’s Zamir (Richard Notron) who ends up being the games bad guy and Thorg (Bob Schott), whom Jonathan recognizes as a former athletic competitor. The rest of the game participants are also present but are really just meat-fodder for Zamir and Thorg. At this point the game begins and all participants are forced from the ceremony running for their lives.
Where do I start? I actually enjoyed Gymkata for what it was. Prior to watching the film for this review I had never seen it before but was aware of its existence. Still, I never had the urge to hunt the film down in order to watch a 140lb gymnastics phenom fight terrorist and crazies using a mix of Gymnastics and Karate. After all, the idea sounds ludicrous and on many levels it is. From a filmmaking stand point, and in particular the script, the whole idea is plain silly and would never happen (you must suspend disbelief or you won’t survive this film). On some levels the film reminded me of Enter The Dragon (1973) and Mortal Kombat (1995). Though Mortal Kombat didn’t come out until 1995, the similarities to Enter The Dragon are evident due to the fact that Gymkata and Enter The Dragon share the same director, Robert Clouse. Performances from the cast are average at best and considering Kurt Thomas’ experience going into the film (none at the time), he manages to service the film quiet nicely.
Gymkata was directed by Robert Clouse. The screenplay was written by Charles Robert Carner and was adapted from Dan Tyler Moore’s novel “The Terrible Game”. The films editor was Robert A. Ferretti. Gymkata was shot in and around the country formally known as Yugoslavia (now comprised of several smaller countries) and was distributed and released by MGM in May of 1985. The budget for the film was $8.5 million and the the box office totals were $5.7 million making it a financial failure. The STAR WARS satellite program (used as a plot-device) was indeed real as it was part of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia in the 80s.
Prior to Gymkata, Robert Clouse directed Bruce Lee in the now classic Enter The Dragon (1973). He also directed the classic blaxploitation film, Black Belt Jones (1974) starring Jim Kelly (also in Enter The Dragon). Other films of note are The Game of Death (1978), The Big Brawl (1980) and the terribly bad Ironheart (1992) starring Bolo Yeung and Richard Norton of Gymkata. Robert A. Ferretti went on to edit such films as Tango and Cash (1989), Die Hard 2 (1990), Rocky V (1990) and Under Siege (1992) just to name a few (this guy kept himself busy).
Thoughts In My Head:
– I want mullets to come back into style
– Nothing says look at me more than a BRIGHT RED sweater while in a third world country
– Kurt Thomas is really short
– How convenient, a high bar smack in the middle of an alleyway, in a third world country
– You know you’re short when the token Asian actor is taller than you
– Confucius say, man with long sword have short penis
– Why is there a pommel-horse smack in the middle of a village filled with insane people
Favorite Badass or Badass Moment: Kurt Thomas, for thinking he could be an action hero
Favorite Boobs or Boobs in a Scene: Sorry kids, no boobs in this one
Favorite Death Scene: Thorg. I didn’t think this guy would ever go down
Boob Count: 0 pair
Body Count: 19
IMDB Rating: 3.8 / 10
My Rating: 4.5 / 10
Final Thoughts: I could easily trash Gymkata and warn you to stay away from it, but I won’t. Fact is, it’s a fun film to watch and make fun of and for that I give it a just a below average score and recommend it for two reasons. One, there’s high bar smack in the middle of an alleyway in a third world country and two, there’s a pommel-horse smack in the middle of a village filled with insane people. If you have the balls to put these two so-called weapon assists in your movie, then it deserves to be seen.