Every so often, there comes a film so bizarre, so unique, so out there, that it ends up being a must-see for those very reasons alone, regardless of whether the film itself is actually good or bad. Miami Connection is one of those movies, a low budget, martial arts film that has a lot of spirit and passion from the people who made it. Conceived by director Richard Park, and Tae Kwon Do grand master Y.K. Kim (who also wrote, produced, and stars in the film), Miami Connection (which barely takes in place in said location) is about a Miami ninja biker gang (seriously) that runs the cocaine circuit in Miami and sets its sights on conquering Orlando as well. Orlando is where we meet our protagonists, a band called Dragon Sound with band members that are all black belts in Tae Kwon Do. When these two clash, things get really crazy.
Miami Connection was only released regionally in Orlando and West Germany during its original release time. It was only until recently that it was rediscovered by Drafthouse Films and shown to a wider audience with positive reception. When originally being made, no distributor gave it a chance, until a small distribution company bought it for $100,000. It became an underground cult film during this time and an old shame for Y.K. Kim. However, it has recently garnered a resurgence with positive reception from critics and audiences alike.
So why was this film hid away so long? Maybe because it’s notoriously so bad that it’s amazing and the critics of back then couldn’t figure it out. The film is so incredibly ’80s that it can be seen as a time capsule of that area. From the hair, to the music (which we get to hear in full ’80s synth rock glory), to the cars, to the everything – It’s all ’80s all the time.
The aforementioned plot is as basic as it gets, giving our heroes every and any opportunity to kick butt. There’s even a fight against some band members and a night club owner/manager! Any excuse to simply hit people is given in this film. It helps that the main characters that compose Dragon Sound (five men and a female singer) are all black belts in Tae Kwon Do in real life (save for the female). The action scenes range from stupid awesome to just stupid: sometimes characters do or don’t get hit, sometimes characters do moves that have no reason to be made, and sometimes the moves being made make sense, but the fights are almost always unnecessary, which is what makes it all so great. The fights get really crazy at the end when our heroes have to go against the Miami Ninjas, who use all sorts of blades.
In case you’re wondering, yes, all these actors are bad actors. However, they have spirit and do try (not too hard), so it’s actually not as painful as it sounds. On the contrary, the acting is hilarious most of the time, featuring terrible dialogue and a man who can’t speak English (Kim). Some of the acting goes to really bad heights, and other times the acting is, well, obvious, which, in turn, can make it painful to watch.
The music is really awesome, being as authentic of the time as ever. Featuring original songs such as “Friends” and “Against the Ninja,” these songs are so radical that I couldn’t help but dance like a goof when they played. The opening credits (which feature the song “Escape from Miami”) are really cool for being so serious, which noticeably contrasts with the movie, which can’t be serious even when it tries.
I like that the setting is authentic, meaning that when they say they’re in Miami or Orlando it’s the real deal. They even show footage of the University of Central Florida, which is located near the downtown Orlando area. It is curious that nearly all the characters refer to their location as Central Florida, which is accurate, but still interesting; it’s as if I were in Miami all the time but always referred to it as South Florida – it is accurate, being in the general South area, but there are other cities that compose South and even Central Florida. In that respect, Miami is always referred to as Miami (whenever it’s even mentioned at all).
And that leads me to my only complaint: It barely takes place in Miami. Consider this a precaution and not a spoiler: You don’t wanna go into this movie thinking it’s all in Miami, or else you’ll end up a bit bummed like I was at the fact that, no, it doesn’t take place on the mean streets of Miami but on the sorta-mean streets of Orlando. The title, as it turns out though, is a reference to the Miami Ninjas and not just the city; this ends up making more sense, since they’re in Orlando but from Miami, hence, the Miami connection.
Aside from the aforementioned complaint, I have no other problems with this movie. There’s barely any filler (and if there is it’s never boring), the music is out of sight, and the whole ride is always entertaining. There are many laugh out loud moments, as well as awkward scenes, dialogue, and so on. There’s a few scenes where I’m pretty certain I saw the production crew standing around, too, which is classic.
Overall, all I can say is that Miami Connection is so bad it’s awesome. I recommend it to basically everyone and anyone who likes exploitation B-movies, hilarious movies, martial arts films, and films that are great to watch with others. And remember: Eliminating violence through violence is always the answer.