Miami Connection is about Tae Kwon Do blackbelt orphans who play in a rock band called Dragon Sound and fight a motorcycle gang of drug-dealing ninjas. I don’t think a feature film could physically contain more awesomeness than that. The execution could not possibly live up to that premise, and it certainly doesn’t. The film is a bizarre hodgepodge of half-baked ideas, regrettable attempts at drama, clumsy stabs at comedy, terrible synth rock music and graphic ninja violence. It’s amazing.
This is the brain child of Y.K. Kim, a middle-aged Tae Kwon Do instructor who decided to become America’s Next Top Action Star in spite of knowing almost nothing about filmmaking or the English language. Armed with his life savings and an army of willing Tae Kwon Do students, he filmed his masterpiece in 1987, where it quietly stayed for two decades until Drafthouse Films discovered the movie on eBay and reintroduced it to a grateful world. Over the course of 90 minutes, we’ll all learn the power of friendship, the importance of family, and how to catch a fist in your mouth.
Three Reasons to Watch:
- The Acting: With a cast filled out by whatever random person walked into the dojo that day, the acting is marvelously terrible, and Kim leads the charge as the band’s marble-mouthed sensei. If you took a shot every time he says something 100% intelligible, you’d be stone sober when the final ninja breathes his last. The rest of the cast is a grab-bag of ridiculous, but my favorite has to be the random thug who inexplicably starts acting like a chipmunk during a fight. He might be the only actor to make a deliberate artistic choice in the whole film.
- The Music: My previous Film Rec, Streets of Fire, might have billed itself as a “Rock ‘n Roll Fable,” but Miami Connection makes a stronger case. We’re treated to several full sequences of our heroes belting out original songs as Dragon Sound, the martial-arts themed synth rock band that’s sweeping the nightclubs of Orlando (not Miami). The film’s opening number, “Against the Ninja,” has our heroes malign a villain they’ve yet to even meet, while “Friends” helpfully lists the virtues of eternal friendship with a simplicity that rivals any Sesame Street anthem.
- 1980s Zeitgeist: Neon! Keytars! Mullets! Porn staches! Ninjas! Cocaine! Bare male midriffs! Everything that made the Eighties unforgettable is here, perfectly preserved like a mosquito trapped in glittery amber. The sheer amount of pink on the film poster should let you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Is There Anything Actually Good About It?
- Production Value: This is no home movie from Y.K. Kim’s living room. There’s a full nightclub, crowded beach scenes, a few rather large-scale brawls, and complete musical numbers. The filmmakers even braved an actual motorcycle gang rally to get footage. Say what you want about the results, but plenty of time, money and effort went into making this thing.
Watch the trailer here.