STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.97
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
Theatrical trailer

The Pitch

The skill of gymnastics, the kill of karate, the joy of watching a mulleted gymnast kick the shit out of peasant farmers.

The Humans

Olympic medalist Kurt Thomas, Richard Norton, Tetchie Agbayani and more Eastern Europeans than you can shake a loaf of welfare bread at.

It’s insane, this guy’s taint.

The Nutshell

The United States just found the perfect location to set up one of its new “Star Wars” missile defense stations – the country of Parmistan. Unfortunately, the pitchfork-wielding denizens of Parmistan won’t let them build it unless they win “the game.” The game is the most deadly of American Gladiators obstacle courses in which participants must traverse across ropes and chasms while the whitest ninjas on the planet shoot at them with bows.

Only the most disciplined of fighters can hope to have a chance in the game. Enter Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas – America’s last, best hope. Feeling that Thomas’ balance beam skills and gymnastic acumen are exactly what America needs, the government recruits him to enter the game. He is trained for this task by a beautiful princess, a wise Asian falconer and some black guy in sweatpants. After successfully completing his training on the swing set in his back yard, he sets forth to Parmistan and the deadly game.

Are we not men?

The Lowdown

Almost every scene of Gymkata defies description. Events so ludicrous transpire that you feel nothing else in the film will be able to top them and then they are topped in the very next scene. The “artistic” choices boggle the mind. A fight to the death amongst a bunch of pigs? Horses jumping over a gigantic pit that isn’t even shown in frame? A pommel horse in the middle of a cannibalistic town? Gymkata does it all and shoves it in your face as proud as can be.

It’s ridiculous and totally endearing. A film this insane just makes you want to jump inside the director’s head for a minute. Why have Kurt Thomas encounter a tied-up goat as soon as he enters the town of cannibals? How much did that goat cost for the ten second scene and what was it supposed to add to the film? Are there deleted scenes where the goat gets more screen time? Did anyone care to come up with an explanation for any of this nonsense? Did the people involved know what they were creating?

This way to great savings!

Gymkata borrows so freely from every other action movie in existence that it can’t fit all the ripping off into its brief running time. In the first thirty minutes of the movie, the hero goes through a montage training sequence, beds the beautiful girl, rafts down rapids, rescues the girl from kidnappers and is betrayed by a close associate. Gymkata is the premature ejaculator of the action movie genre, but luckily it has a short refractory period and is ready to squirt some more killing karate in your face in no time. Bring a towel.

It’s important to mention the man who makes Gymkata what it is – Kurt Thomas. Without him, there would be no uneven bars kung-fu or pommel horse pummeling. His burning charisma and sizzling mullet are what this film is all about. The filmmakers obviously designed the entire film around his skills as an actor and martial artist and should be commended for doing as much as they did with so little. It’s pretty depressing to realize the handicapable fighters in The Crippled Masters possessed more fighting acumen in their stubs than Thomas has in his entire body.

Hands off the merchandise, ladies.

Gymkata is not a well made movie. It’s not a well acted movie, it’s not a well written movie, it’s not a well directed movie and it’s not a well choreographed movie. What does that make Gymkata? It makes it an awesome movie for all the wrong reasons. There are bad movies that are just plain boring and some that offer a few brief moments of unintentional comedy, but Gymkata is a tour de force of B-movie greatness. At no point will you not be entertained. What else can you ask for from a movie starring an Olympic gymnast?

The Package

Gymkata has one of the most ludicrous premises ever presented in an action movie and one of the most physically unimpressive action heroes ever cast. How in the world could a studio hope to convince people to pay and see this film? By getting Don LaFontaine to do the voiceover for the trailer, of course!

There are no words.

With LaFontaine’s incredible baritone voice, “the kill of karate” almost sounds plausible! An innocent person could be easily tricked into thinking this is a decent action flick by the trailer, the only special feature on the disc. This innocent person would have to be incredibly stupid and naïve or a pommel horse fetishist, but it’s possible.

7.5 out of 10