I once showed my friend the Italian slavery sleazefest GOODBYE UNCLE TOM and he walked around for the next few days in a stupor, eventually leaving a voicemail that was something like, "I just can't—I just don't understand how such a thing could be made in this world..." THAT is how I feel about GYMKATA! Because it is the story of Parmistan, a country in the Hindu Kush which ordains a celebration called "The Game", in which competitors run across Parmistan, climbing ropes and trying to not die. The last part is complicated by a band of ninjas who tail and kill the hapless contestants. So far, just a HUNGER GAMES for the Babushka Bloc, but then America has to plant a satellite base in Parmistan for some reason, so they solicit the aid of a hero.
A gymnast hero! Named JOHN CABOT. He receives special training in order to prep him for The Game and the trip to Parmistan.
The best, bubbliest, and most shapely trainer is the inexplicably Asiatic daughter of Parmistan's king, who knows The Game backwards and forwards and is also a good helper when they go to the Fez Bazaar to haggle over tea sets.
Okay, but a gymnast? Action movies of the 80s tended to use cops and military guys as heroes, hulking bruisers and not slender and limber sleekboys. Before you scoff the day away, you should be aware that Parmistan is festooned with vertical bars—
—and every street includes at least one pommel—
—so shut your whore mouth. Cabot heads over and succeeds in spite of several obstacles: corrupt royal auxiliaries who break The Rules of The Game; arrows which have impeccable comedic timing; and the town where Parmistan sends all of their insane people, as well as all their scythes and machetes.
GYMKATA is too much fun! The fight scenes, having to be based around gymnastics, involve tons of showy backflips and tumbling, basically the complete opposite of a fistfight of gun battle. The plot is appropriately ridiculous and, while incorporating all the generic features one would expect from an eighties actioneer, has to stretch your credulity even farther because of the conceits on display. I can't imagine Stallone or Van Dam at the very apex of coked-outedness agreeing to a scene in which rock-climbers in bright track suits are arrowed in the back.
Plus you get to see Rasputin and George Lucas clones die!
How could such a thing be made in this world???