Monday, December 31, 2012

It's gonna make your Olympic training look like finger painting.

As the last few hours of 2012 wind down, many of us will look back on the year that was. News channels, sports and entertainment programs, hell - everywhere you go, highlights will be shown and lists will be made commemorating both the best and worst of the year. And as we get closer to midnight, the focus will inevitably shift from looking backward to forward, and the quiet birth of the New Year's Resolution will happen a million times over. I've broken just as as many as I've made, but this year's going to be different. Here at Two Dollar Cinema, I'm making the resolution to stop watching (and writing about) so many shitty movies. Around here, 2013 will focus on incredible, life-affirming stories and the indelible art of film-making. No more sarcastic bullshit.

But it ain't 2013, yet.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into with Gymkata, I promise. I saw the stupid title, read the ridiculous plot summary from the program guide, and thought f--k it, why not? Little did I know I was sitting down to one of the worst movies if all time. 

But, here's the thing. It f--king rules. 

Released a year after the US smashed in the Russkie-free 1984 Olympics, someone must have thought this idea would amount to even more guaranteed American gold. Combining the ridiculousness of mid-80's action with the sweaty awfulness of male gymnastics would have been enough. Hell, it would have been more than enough. But then to throw in the weirdest final twenty minutes of any movie ever, and things spiral into utter madness.

The story is actually more,if possible, absurd than that poster, but I'll give it a shot regardless. Government agents recruit a male gymnast to participate in an obscure game on the other side of the planet. If he wins, he gets a, wait for it, request. Seriously. And with this request, presumably he'll ask for the safeguard of numerous satellites in the Star Wars missile defense program, and not a proper haircut and shorts that actually cover his ballsack. And with that, we're off to training montages, guys with massive tits, probably over two-hundred unnecessary backflips, and the infamous battlecry of Yamkala!! Indeed.

'Twas a crushing blow that falcon wrangling was never called for.
Speaking of worthless phrases, when I watch movies now, I tend to jot down anything that moved the needle one way or the other. During Gymkata, the ol' needle was pinned in the what the f--k is going on? section of my personal barometer. Usually, good or bad, I hit about two pages of notes. Here? I stopped at five.

I honestly don't even know how to separate the two, but here are the last Yays and Boos of 2012. When the ball drops, hopefully these two don't end up making out with each other. Again.

Good thing the town square happened to have a pommel horse.
  • You know you're in for something special when the opening shot is of an ominous high bar interspliced with shots of ninjas. On horseback.
  • Which leads us to the oddly juxtaposed combination of life-or-death ninja escape with the overwhelming neutrality of a sweaty floor routine.
  • The Game. Played for over 900 years in Parmistan, this is the ultimate test of human endurance. And by that, obviously I mean a footrace across a field, lots of rope climbing and a climactic visit to the Cuckoo's Nest. More on that later.
  • But before the game, we get a gloriously awful training montage. Preparation for the Game involves walking up stairs - on your hands!, fighting a large black man - in sweats!, and listening to Asian man ramble on - while he holds a falcon! 
  • Phew. All that training has really tuckered me out. Good thing I have just enough energy to screw The Princess. Even if all we've ever exchanged are awkward glances and threatening gestures. So glad I wooed her with a one-sided conversation punctuated by incessantly backflipping. That old trick.
  • Now, reading this, it's going to sound like they're in on the joke, but I really didn't get that vibe when watching it. Anyway, someone asks, where are we going? The answer? Karabal, on the Caspian Sea. Cut to some random B-roll of an ancient city near some water. Cue the on screen title, Karabal, On the Caspian Sea. Seriously. Here's where I thought, okay, Gymkata, now you're just f'--king with me.
  • When a random guy dies in these kinds of flicks, it's generally hilarious. But when that guy takes an arrow mid-sentence? That's pure silver screen magic.
  • In one of the numerous alleyway fight scenes, it's unsurprisingly fortunate that a powdered up parallel bar was left behind by one of the Parmistinian villagers. Apparently gymnastics were quite the rage the world over.
  • This follows the longest alleyway chase scene ever. I swear they were almost shot nineteen times.
  • One of the pursuers, who look like every Yugoslavian uncle I've ever met, completes the best/worst spin move I've ever seen after being hit by a car. This must be seen to be believed.
  • Dude, don't mess with the main bad buy, Zamir. You look at his woman? Oh, shit. Look out for incredibly long and awkward sai demonstration. That shit's scary.
  • The use of obvious dummies. This is the biggest Yay possible. Though there's a part when our main man jump kicks two guards and they don't even have the sense to fall down. They just step aside, slightly bothered.
  • And finally, as the credits began to roll...the most surprising four words appeared on the screen. Based on the novel...I actually wept.
Just wait. His balls will be even closer to the camera in a second.
  • The shopping scene. Imagine the direction that the extras are given in your typical SNL skit. In Gymkata, that's what we get front and center.
  • The main character is dressed like both gang leaders in Michael Jackson's Bad video. Always.
  • At least eight of the ninety minutes is footage exclusively of ninjas on horses. That's slightly too high.
  • The foley work. Every action has a sound effect. A bad one, at that.
  • The pivotal breakdown of The Game happens to occur using the only fifth-grader's diorama that didn't get his parents help. Poor kid.
  • The Game is so ridiculous. First, the judges are in full ninja gear, though are essentially soccer linesmen. Second, trailing the participants in this contest, is a pack of ruthless killers armed with bows and arrows. Oh, and torches. Third, they are all on horses that can apparently climb ropes. Sounds unfair, huh? Well, hold on. They do give them a fourteen second headstart.
  • Each haircut is worse than the previous. You can also replace haircut with random townsperson.
  • Thorg. Not only does your name suggest you're a lumbering dick, but so do your actions.
  • Buck Kartalian. Okay, love the name, Buck. But your character, The Kahn, is laughably horrible. The leader of Parmistan shouldn't look like Mel Brooks doing math after being kicked in the face by a horse. Well, fine. Maybe he should.
  • And finally, Crazy Town. You can't imagine the shit you will see here. People make random screeching noises (well, duh, they're crazy), wear faces on their necks and for some unholy reason, often don assless monk-robes. There's even a fight scene were the loser, upon grabbing what may or may not be a hot pipe, does what any of us would do. He cuts his f--king hand off, of course. All of this is occurs before the, and I'm not shitting you, six-minute slo-mo finale.
Right before the clock strikes midnight tonight, or Hell, whatever night you're reading this, I want you to grab someone you love. Hold them real tight, okay? Real tight. Then, I want you to pull 'em close, look them deep in the eyes, and whisper this nugget of wisdom from Gymkata to them, okay?

It's not over yet. So, put your hardware back in your pants.


  1. I'm sad to hear you won't be watching and reviewing so many bad movies in 2012, as your reviews of bad movies are incredibly entertaining. On the plus side, we don't want you to face the trauma of having another television commit suicide. Happy New Year, M!

    1. Happy New Year to you and your family as well. Thanks for the kind words as always.

      Don't worry, there was a reason I made that promise a New Year's resolution...

  2. Oh, you have to keep reviewing those little gems! There are about 100 reviews for Les Miserables in the blogosphere and I keep reading those and then I come here and what do you know. Something not one of the bloggers wrote about ^^

    1. Ha! Yeah, I really wish more people would review Gymkata. The world needs that.

      Well, as much as the world need the 101st Les Miserables review, I suppose.

    2. I agree with Sati completely! Ever since I first started reading this blog a few months ago, I'd knew I'd vote for you as funniest blog at the next Lammys. After a few more months you could come out with compilation book titled "The Ultimate Guide To Must See (or read) Crappy Movies". Subtitle: "featuring lots of boobs"

    3. I like where your heads at, Asrap.
      I swear I don't like crappy movies, I just like short ones. It just turns out that those two are, like, best friends forever.

      An acquaintance of short/crappy movies, is the always welcome female nudity.

      I guess this absurd combination is had become the focus of Two Dollar Cinema. And that's equal parts awesome and f--king awesome.

  3. No more sarcastic...WHAT????

    I call bullsh*t, sir. B.S.

    1. So little faith, Shane. I'm disappointed by your lack of faith.

      You know what? I guess I'll just continue to be a sarcastic prick this year, if only to spite you.

      And not because it's 900% impossible for me to be anything but, either. That has nothing to do with it.

  4. Nice write-up! Gotta love the random pommelhorse scene. Thankfully that was there in the Town Of The Crazies. Haha.

    1. Thanks! This movie was miles beyond ridiculous, but it only adds to the spectacle. Well, if you can call horrible acting and laughable fighting a spectacle.