Digital Breakdown: Karate + gymnastics + ’80s = awesome! 

It’s a throwback week for DVDs, with great releases from the 1980s. including the cult classic "Gymkata" and "Looker."


How cool is this?! "Gymkata," the great, longtime staple of the late-night HBO lineup (as well as local cable networks, which obviously got a great deal on it, because it was often run in the wee hours of the morning) has finally come home.

This awesome ’80s flick combines gymnastics, karate, a crazy town full of Eastern Europeans (or possibly Asians — they never really tell us), well placed, pre-chalked gymnastic equipment throughout the town, hot chicks with little dialogue, and ninjas roaming a farmlike countryside. It’s one heck of a movie.

So bad it’s good, "Gymkata" has found a place in many hearts as the ultimate in bad 1980s B movies. For others, it’s the ultimate Cold War commentary on geopolitical machinations in the Reagan era.

Unfortunately, the DVD lacks extras, with the exception of the movie’s original trailer. Still, "Gymkata," providing pure, hilarious entertainment, has a place in every collection. Price: $19.97. Rent or buy: Buy!


For another classic ’80s action thriller, check out "Looker." The movie, starring Albert Finney, is about supermodels who end up dead because of some "futuristic" light ray gun that zaps memory. There’s also an evil corporation’s nefarious scheme to create TV commercials that control your mind — ha! It’s good stuff. Price: $19.97. Rent or buy: Buy.

Open Season Special Edition

Yes, animated films have become a dime a dozen, and so, discerning the good from the bad is just getting easier. Take "Open Season," for instance. The artwork and CGI are terrific. Yet the story’s ho-hum — not too hot, not too cold — much like the porridge in the famous fairy tale.

Ashton Kutcher and Martin Lawrence are on board for the voice talent. It’s nicely done, and both voices surprisingly mesh well with their animated counterparts. Still, in the end, the movie won’t have the lasting appeal of a "Toy Story," or even "Happy Feet." A ton of special features are included on the special edition version, among them games for kids, music videos and more. Price: $28.95. Rent or buy: Rent.

Law & Order SVU — The Third Year

The no-rhyme, no-reason aspect to "Law & Order" releases continues with the offering of the third year of "SVU," featuring some of the nastiest stuff of any of the dozen "Law & Orders" on NBC. (However, no "Law & Order: Traffic Misdemeanors Unit" has been issued on DVD yet.) As with other "Law & Order" DVD releases, the special features here are severely lacking. There’s not a heck of a lot of reason to buy this — unless you are an "SVU" junkie. Price: $59.98. Rent or buy: Buy — fans only.

Lucky Louie — The Complete First Season

Even though the show got a bad rap, the likable series starring comedian Louis C.K. was a hilarious anti-sitcom that broke the mold, not unlike some other great HBO comedies. With clever writing, hilarious banter and great one-liners, "Lucky Louie" never really garnered the kind of following"Curb Your Enthusiasm" achieved. Critics who simply didn’t get it pounded the final nail into the show’s coffin. Price: $29.99. Rent or buy: A good rental!

Other DVDs out Tuesday: "Ultimate Fighting Championship 7 & 8," "Flyboys," "Facing the Giants," "Desperate Crossings: The Untold Story of the Mayflower" "I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Third Season," "Doris Day Collection," "Academy Awards Collection," "Big Valley: Season 2," "The Marine," "Dallas: The Complete Sixth Season," "Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Fifth Season" and "Farce of the Penguins."

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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