We Ninja loooooove a terrible 80’s martial arts movie, especially ones involving mullets and cheesy one liners. Last night we had the dubious pleasure of witnessing one such movie: Gymkata. Sake and IPA’s might have been present to numb the senses to the over-achieving sensibilities of Kurt Thomas and a rather scurrilous cast of characters.
Our high-flying hero, Jonathan Cabot, is recruited by…somebody, to do…something. Okay the plots not clear, or I had had enough sake by then to not really care. Anyway, our gymnast hero gets trained by a Japanese dude who likes swinging kama at his crotch blindfolded, a selectively mute “Princess of Parmistan,” and some random “karate” expert who tosses out cliches like ninja stars thrown by the blind. This crazy quilt of training montages results in what appears to be some fusion of gymnastics, ninja stuff, knife work, and karate…? I guess the title of the movies sums up this new art fairly simply.
Several key things stuck out to me about this movie: the conveniently placed gym equipment, a discount Chuck Norris, the love interest and of course, the inevitable Ninja.
When one knows gymkata and finds themselves running through the Middle Eastern equivalent of zombie land, its helpful when useful and familiar gymnastics equipment suddenly appears. Those flying feet of death need the force generated by gravity defying leg circles, moores, spindles, and flairs. How convenient then that our hero just so happened to find a pommel horse when the local crazies where closing in, or one half of the uneven bars randomly attached to a couple of walls.
The Princess of Parmistan is Jonathan’s love interest. It seems inevitable from the get-go that these two crazy kids ought to end up together, but there’s too many mullets, cheese, and political tension in the way. Somehow, with nary a word in the first act, Rubali, the princess, conveys her sexual tension by pulling knives on Jonathan fairly regularly. She wants him bad, but she’s not going to say that. He has to figure it out with wide-eyed stares and the occasional flicks of a switchblade. But she’s supposed to marry her dad’s right-hand man, because that what was in the script. Being the princess of her dad’s cheese empire means she has to do what he says, and dammit, he’s gonna make her marry that mullet-headed discount Chuck Norris whether she likes it or not.
The producers really wanted that effervescent know-it-all and badass of the universe Chuck Norris to play the bad guy, but as luck would have it he was too busy proving his immortality on the internet by pointing big guns at his own bad guys. So, instead of ‘Ol Chucky we get this guy:
Zamir somehow manages to be on the kahn’s (intentional misspelling) good side, and Rubali’s bad side, AT THE SAME TIME. It’s as if the sexual confusion of his wardrobe and hairstyle choices convey ambiguity, or something. Is he good? Is he bad? Who knows, or cares? Given the discounted nature of this fellow’s acting skills, we ninja feel he is rightly dubbed Nuck Chorris.
Thanks to the ninja boom of the 80’s they tend show up in every martial arts flick from that era. But one has to wonder what these guys were doing in Parmistan, and why they look the Foot Clan? Was it Nuck Chorris’ fault? Did he extend his confusion to his soldiers, or were they white belts undergoing a hazing by their seniors? It’s kinda hard to tell what’s really going on under their masks, but we’re thankful they were standing there with their flags, pointing the way for our hero.
When it comes to films, the goings on of Parmistan is a highly marked-down wheel of cheese. With the help of his metaphysically superhuman aptitude, and some depreciated citizens of the Cheese Cartel, this movie will drive you to drink, especially since this was apparently the point?