Gymkata (1985)

Posted in Reviews by - January 13, 2015
Gymkata (1985)

A double insult of a film. Not only does this badly serve America’s first gold medal-winning gymnastics champ Kurt Thomas with a bad script and laughable premise, but it is also filmed with all the excitement of a hernia operation. The flawed concept of combining Olympic gymnastics with Karate was the misguided brain-fart of director Robert Clouse and producer Fred Weintraub – the team (believe it or not) behind the seminal kung fu classic Enter the Dragon. It’s flawed, obviously, because most professional gymnastic routines require apparatus, not to mention a leotard. So we get contrived combat scenes involving springboards and parallel bars. The best sequence involves a pommel horse. A crowd of beefy extras get too close to Thomas’ routine and, ouch, they’re caught in the face by one of his spinning legs. All of this is set within an entirely serious story about the US government hiring a gymnast to investigate a savage, ritualistic tournament known as The Game, based somewhere in eastern Europe and beset by deadly ninja. Guns are disallowed, there are dodgy dealings and a kidnapped girl in further shades of Enter the Dragon, which increasingly starts to resemble¬†Citizen Kane¬†when compared to this. Due to the film’s ridiculousness, Gymkata has since enjoyed a rebirth as an ironic, cult favourite. But it’s still awful, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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