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Gymkata with Kurt Thomas & Tadashi Yamashita (Arrow Recommends)

Gymkata with Kurt Thomas & Tadashi Yamashita (Arrow Recommends)
04.21.2017by: The Arrow
7 10


"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: The US Government recruits and trains (oh so briefly) a star Gymnast to infiltrate some sad sack country, play some kind of “most dangerous game” all in the name of winning and getting a wish (yeah that's the prize, you get a f*cking wish). Of course all they want is to have a US satellite monitoring station installed there. Umm. Yeah. Makes no sense to me neither. Allow me to rephrase. Kurt Thomas IS Jonathan Cabot. Armed with his Speedo shorts, he is dropped in some sad sack country where he goes on a back flipping and pummel horse kicking frenzy taking out all kinds of extras that can’t throw a punch. Oh, and he gets laid.

"It's not over yet, so put your hardware back in your pants." - Jonanthan Cabot

LOWDOWN: What do you get when you take the director of ENTER THE DRAGON (Robert Clouse), a tiny budget and casting mousy Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas as some kind of action hero? A BAD IDEA. This had to be one of the cheesiest, funniest and somewhat baffling (in terms of how this even exists) flicks ever made.  WOW.

When I was a wee twerp, GYMKATA was that VHS cover that would always stare back at me from the shelves, no matter the video store I was in. Not sure what it was. The ninjas? The kicks? The awful tagline ("The skill of gymnastics, the Kill of Karate!" )? Maybe all of it. When I finally saw the film, I fell in love with it. But back then, I didn’t know jack, hence I was curious as to how I would feel about it today as a "grown up". So I rallied a couple of buds and a bottle of Vodka and we gave it a whirl. Result? What in the actual f*ck did I just watch?!!

This jaw dropping turkey sported a basic (dull) visual style, a non-sense plot, a boy meets girl-f*cks girl-loves girl romance, the dullest looking locations ever captured on film and dialogue so inane that I have no words for it. On that, it also resulted in the ultimate laugh at the movie throughout opus. So out of the kindness of my dead heart, I’ve decided to whip up this drinking game for y’all. If you ever tap GYMKATA, I dare ya to have a sip every time:

  • Kurt Thomas acting is overshadowed by his deadly combo of mullet and uni-brow.
  • You wonder why didn't they send in a Seal or a Green Beret instead of an untrained tiny Gymnast.
  • A shot is out of focus.
  • When you spot Black Star Ninja (the great Tadashi Yamashita) from American Ninja cashing that check!
  • When you wonder how mastering the handstand is going to help Kurt achieve Ninja ass kicking domination.
  • A foe obviously couldn’t fight a Girl Scout yet alone Kurt Thomas who also couldn’t fight a Girl Scout…and win.
  • Kurt Thomas pimping atrocious clothing. (take two sips when that ugly Christmas-like red sweater makes an appearance – YEESH!)
  • When you spot parallel bars, a pommel horse or any other acrobatic type of gear BUILT INTO the village for NO OTHER REASON that Kurt is gonna need that shit to do his thing.
  • When you think to yourself; Kurt Thomas couldn’t wipe his own ass yet alone kick so many of them.
  • When the camera thinks that Kurt Thomas' crotch in Speedo shorts is something we want to see.
  • When the SAME punch/kick sound effect keeps dropping in hilarious fashion.
  • When you think “awesome” at the ridiculous display of Karate meets acrobatic fight scenes.
  • Every time you wonder why that bearded baddie (a dead pan Richard Norton) REFUSES to wear a shirt – dead set on showing off his pecs.

  • When that dime store slow motion pops up.
  • When you wonder if the baddies are Ninjas or just tools that cut eyeholes in their mommy’s sheets when she wasn’t looking.
  • Every time you see a Ninja stand still like a mook, holding up a flag.
  • When you think the director of ENTER THE DRAGON with BRUCE LEE made this shit?
  • When you wonder in which time frame the film is set in. I didn’t get the memo that Eastern Europe in the 80’s was basically the Middle Ages with paper hats and rubber swords.
  • When the bad guys come up with a sure-miss plan to kill our hero, instead of doing the obvious i.e. how they whacked the other characters just before.
  • Kurt Thomas displays of acrobatics are actually pretty f*cking impressive.
  • When the extras looked more bored than Kurt Thomas.
  • When you wonder: What’s the story again? I have no idea.”
  • When you think, “This is Yugoslavia? They can keep it.”

I was also gonna slap in “every time you see the mentor with that giant hawk” or that overacting “cat woman villainess”, but I figured you'd be toasted by then. Yes GYMKATA is the real shitastic deal – a film so awful with the most left field and unlikely action hero to ever grace the silver screen that it has to be EXPERIENCED at least once in one’s lifetime. Bless GYMKATA! I nearly soiled myself giggling taking it on, and anything that brings this much joy to my pitiful life cannot be all that useless. The film gets a 3 or 4 on 10 on paper but as a so bad it's good jamboree of good times it gets a...

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