Miami Connection (1987) – Review

According to 80s movies everyone knew martial arts and a big kung fu brawl could break at a moment’s notice, but not everyone could be Chuck Norris and so for every bad ass martial arts flick out there are a dozen duds to be found. Which brings us to Miami Connection, a film so terrible it is actually awe-inspiring to behold. From poor camerawork to the stilted acting to the unconvincing fight scenes the film was all gloriously awful, and that writer/producer/star Y.K. Kim was an actual black belt in tae kwon is just added sadness as he did not have the ability to translate that to the screen in any way shape or form.

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The movie takes place in Orlando, Florida, which is certainly a strange location for a movie called Miami Connection as at no point does anyone go to Miami or make references of any kind of connection that I could tell. The story deals with an evil group of motorcycle riding ninjas that are moving in on the local drug trade and how they are thwarted by the “rock” band Dragon Sound, and yes, not one part of that sentence isn’t awesome.  Sadly, what follows is not.

Dragon SoundDragon Sound, the fusion of music and tae kwon do.

The films key villains are Jeff (William Ergle) and Yashito (Si Y Jo). Jeff runs the local gang element while Yashito operates the ninja training camp that supplies Jeff with ninjas. Their operation is shown to have some bugs in it when a group of their ninjas take out a rival drug gang but forget to steal the money. Adding to those problems is the band Dragon Sound as John (Vincent Hirsch), one of the band’s supposed singers, is dating Jeff’s sister Jane (Kathy Collier) and Jeff is not cool with that.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-10h15m49s873It’s West Side Story meets Scarface.

But that’s not all the drama this film provides as there is also a rival band that got replaced by Dragon Sound at the local hot spot, and we’re assuming also the only club in Miami, and they want their gig back. At first they try to force the club owner to fire Dragon Sound and hire them back, but it turns out the owner also knows martial arts and he beats the crap out of them. So their next option is to go and take out Dragon Sound in a street brawl. That they had just got their ass handed to them by 40 something year old club owner does not bode well for this next plan of action.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-10h17m58s385I do like to think that all contract disputes are handled like this.

They are of course trounced by Dragon Sound, and so their only recourse is to go to Jeff and his gang for help. Jeff certainly is all up for taking out these punks who dare date his sister and put her in their band, so they challenge Dragon Sound to a fight at a nearby train yard that ends in a draw when the cops arrive.  One can clearly tell that most of the cast members are all friends of writer/producer Y.K. Kim (who also plays band member Mark and tae kwon do mentor to the group) and this movie comes across like a martial arts version of a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movie where a bunch of local kids decide, “Let’s put on a show!” That these people actually have training in tae kwon do is apparent but that director Richard Park and Y.K. Kim have no clue how to film or choreograph fight scenes is also very apparent.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-10h21m41s324The film does include the required ninja training camp scene.

For some reason Y.K. Kim thought this movie needed even more story elements, so he tossed in a plot thread about how Dragon Sound members are all orphans and that Jim (Maurice Smith), the one black member, has being trying to locate his dad for quite some time. The Oscar worthy clip of Jim breaking down and crying in front of his band mates is truly something special.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-10h18m16s693My mother was Korean, and my father was Black American. She gave me this picture when she was real sick. I was only nine years old.” *sniff*

The movie all comes to a head when Jim gets a letter that his father has been located, and the band rush out to get him a new suit because I guess meeting your long lost dad in your karate Gi or band T-shirt isn’t cool. While on route to the airport to meet Jim’s dad they are set upon by the Miami ninja clan.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-10h22m21s730I’m not really sure how stealthy this is.

This film is terrible, it is so bad that its made me re-think how I feel about Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece The Room and making one think of The Room is not a good thing. It’s clear that this movie was a passion project of Y.K. Kim’s and that he really wanted to promote the awesomeness that is tae kwon do. Throughout the film members of Dragon Sound spout out platitudes about the peace loving aspects of tae kwon do and how their band should go on a world tour and spread the message. We even get a tag line at the end of the movie, “Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace.” That’s a strange message to end a film that contains ninjas carving up people in gouts of fake blood.

vlcsnap-2015-04-05-11h20m14s461Creating world piece one bloody corpse at a time.

This is a hard film to recommend to even lovers of bad marital arts movies, as not only is the acting atrocious and the fight sequences rather lame by even standards of the day but there is also the songs, the godawful songs that go on FOREVER. So I will end off this review with a clip of Dragon Sound and their chart topping hit “Against the Ninja” If you can handle this song you may be able to survive the Miami Connection.

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Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks

Film grad who spends most his time trying to catch up on his "To Watch" pile of movies.