Monday, August 5, 2019

Movie Review: "Miami Connection" (1987)

Director: Richard Park and Y.K. Kim
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

After getting a new gig at a local club, a band comprised of college students/taekwondo fighters must fend off a series of assaults from a street gang of cocaine-dealing motorcycle ninjas that want the band gone.

Angelo Janotti flexes his muscles shirtless in a corvette in a gif of the 1987 movie Miami Connection
"I didn't know you had a father. I thought we are all orphans." (Image Source)
In any walk of life, there are two types of failures: there are miserable failures, and there are glorious failures. In the case of cinema, the former is a project where everything goes wrong, resulting in a dull, unredeemable mess that is a painful experience to endure. The latter is "Miami Connection." This film is directed by Woo-Sang 'Richard' Park and highlights central Florida's favorite taekwondo artist Y.K. Kim who, besides starring in the movie, was also one of its writers and its uncredited co-director. The story revolves around an '80s synth-pop-rock group called Dragon Sound, whose band members are all taekwondo black belts and orphans that attend Central Florida University. Dragon Sound has recently acquired a reoccurring gig at a local club where they play their upbeat martial arts-themed music that offers messages of peace and love. A local gang that gets their drugs supplied from motorcycle-riding-ninjas doesn't like Dragon Sound, mainly because one of the band members, John (Vincent Hirsch), is dating the gang leader's sister, Jane (Kathy Collier). The band that got fired to make room for Dragon Sound is angry as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, so they offer all their money to the gang to get rid of John and his bandmates since, according to the gang's leader Yashito (Si Y Jo), they only play kiddy music.
Gif of the movie Miami Connection showing Y.K. Kim pinching Joseph Diamand's nose in a taw kwon do move
"You think you're so bad with that kicking shit. What's this stuff, man?" (Image Source)
If you are a person who reads the summary of "Miami Connection" and doesn't understand why it is so glorious, this is not the movie for you. If you don't want to hear '80s synth-rock-pop songs about taekwondo and making the world a better place, this is not the movie for you. If you are a person who judges a film solely from a technical standpoint based on what is taught in film school as "the right way to do things," this is not the movie for you. From an academic standpoint, "Miami Connection" is a complete and total failure. The narrative makes no sense, the story structure is garbage, there is no real cause and effect, the characters are paper-thin and are barely one-dimensional, and the acting is abysmal at best. And yet, somehow, despite all this, it is endlessly entertaining and is exceedingly enjoyable to watch. This movie brought us so much joy and laughter in such a short period. It is made by a taekwondo instructor, his students, and a couple of struggling musicians. You've got to admire their gumption for giving it their all and letting the chips fall where they may. There is so much to respect about a passion project like this, no matter how "bad" it might technically be. There are some good things about it if you can disregard its amateur look and feel. The fight sequences are surprisingly fun. The songs are hilariously goofy. We guarantee we laughed more watching "Miami Connection" than we do when we watch most modern-day comedies. It is wondrously '80s in every way imaginable. From the mullets to the obsession with martial arts, to the tough guys who wear short-shorts and headbands, everything about it screams 1987, and we loved each minute of it.
Movie still gif from 1987's cult classic Miami Connection shows Y.K. Kim going crazy with a gun after his friend was murdered in the forest
"This doesn't look like the welcome wagon." (Image Source)
COME ON. "Miami Connection" is about cocaine-dealing-ninjas on motorcycles who, for some inexplicable reason, think a random rock band is their enemy. Maybe it's the band's lyrics they hate. As a matter of fact, Dragon Sound does sing about beating up ninjas before they ever have a conflict with them, so who knows! Maybe the leader of the motorcycle ninjas hates Dragon Sound the same way the internet hates Nickleback: there is just this powerful, irrational contempt for a vanilla-ass rock group that plays popular, unremarkable, easily digestible music. Either way, it makes for a hell of an amusing ride. If you're a person who appreciates magnificent failures like "Troll 2," "The Room," and "Samurai Cop," add this flick to your list ASAP.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.8/10
RT Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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