Title: Miami Connection
Genre(s): Action, Crime
Director(s): Y.K. Kim, Woo-sang Park
Release Year: 1987
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Whether it be in the form of a vapid musical act they just can’t get enough of or a film that’s simply so poorly executed it unintentionally backfires into a gut-busting comedy, it’s something we all share. Very few guilty pleasures however are the result of these two incredible worlds colliding into a mess of unprecedented proportions. Even fewer of these include ninjas in the mix. Enter Miami Connection, a film so rife with nonsensical and questionable decisions in nearly every department that the final product becomes something of a gem. With an extremely modest budget and a slew of fifth-rate actors (and I use that term very lightly), Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park have crafted a veritable relic for the ages that needs to be seen to be believed.
The film follows the exploits of Dragon Sound, a popular new wave band from Florida who are poised for even greater success thanks to their catchy, morally-sound songs (Just take a listen at their song “Friends“!) and charismatic, well-meaning character. The band, a quintet of high school students, are best friends and roommates, having been brought together by 2 characteristic traits; all of them happen to be orphans and all of them firmly believe the art of Tae Kwon Do to be the greatest of all styles. Their guitar player, Mark (Y.K. Kim himself, in a mostly incomprehensible performance) even happens to be a black belt and houses a dojo for them to practice in. When bass player John (Vincent Hirsch) falls for a new, female member in the band, things take a turn for the worst as her brother, a vicious, goatee’d drug pusher named Jeff begins to interfere. Before you know it, Dragon Sound are thrust straight into an all-out drug war, where their bonds and tae kwon do chops will be pushed right to their very limits.
Indeed, Miami Connection is by no means a GOOD film, traditionally speaking. It’s an extremely rough, truly outrageous work of action that simply should not work on any level whatsoever. Yet within this messy, muddy exterior lies a real diamond; as a work of unintentional comedy, Y.K. Kim’s Miami Connection is nearly unmatched. From the opening scene, in which ninjas infiltrate a drug cartel and eventually proceed to maim and murder everyone within over the sounds of pulsating synths, it becomes quite obvious that this film is part of a whole other breed of 80’s action. The action scenes, characterized by their ridiculously prolonged duration and often sudden conclusions, are filled to the brim with campy, often genuinely thrilling bouts of unadulterated joy. In fact, the musical numbers, of which there are a few, are worth the price of admission alone. The style here clearly outdoes the substance, relentlessly borrowing virtually every element of pre-90’s Hollywood cinema in attempting to form a cohesive product in the process; This is a high-octane action film, a music picture, a coming of age movie, a melodramatic feast for the soul…Miami Connection has it all.
The film’s best moments however lie not in the hectic action scenes but in the stilted, histrionic character-driven scenes. The acting is so undeniably static and awful and the dialogue so unbelievable that these segments of exposition only serve to confuse the viewer and send him or her into complete hysteria. One subplot involves keyboard-player Jim receiving a letter from his estranged father, something the rest of the band is completely unaware of. Jim then emotionally recounts his past, sobbing uncontrollably in the process, while Mark mutters some more incoherent words in broken English. The awkwardness is unparalleled and makes this scene, one of many, instantly memorable. In fact, virtually every phrase emitted from producer Y.K. Kim’s mouth is accompanied by laughter; it truly needs to be heard to be believed.
While most will simply shrug it off as just another inept excuse for an action film (and it is inept), Miami Connection deserves a second chance. There’s no denying that this is a train wreck of an action film from start to finish, yet, unlike most of its lowly peers, it amounts to much more than the sum of its parts; its ridiculous and inconceivable turns and flaws masquerade as a surplus of style and result in a higher laugh-per-minute rate than any of its peers. It has all the potential of becoming a cult film akin to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, which has seen a huge influx in popularity over the past 9 years since its release. With distribution rights having recently been picked up by Drafthouse Films and a December release date for the Blu-Ray transfer, Miami Connection is indeed headed in this direction. Fans of cult and “so bad they’re good” movies, take note! There’s a new contender in town…