Miami Connection

December 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm (9 Heads, Miami Connection) (, , , , , , , )

Miami Connection – 1987 – United States

Miami Connection was masterminded by writer/producer/director/actor/martial artist Y. K. Kim. Shown only in Florida, Miami Connection was a commercial failure, bankrupting its creator. It remained unheard of until its 2012 re-release by Drafthouse Films (the video distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema theater chain in Texas). With its charming mixture of insanity and sincerity, Miami Connection seems poised for cult status.

In Miami, gangsters and ninja bikers war over cocaine. Caught in the crossfire is Dragon Sound, a rock band of orphaned Tae Kwon Do black belts who are best friends and roommates. They just want to have fun, fall in love, and cruise the beach, but rampant psychotic gangs keep screwing it up. In one subplot, a band member’s girlfriend is related to a merciless gang boss. In another, a rival rock band hires assassins to kill Dragon Sound. Essentially, the film is a series of martial arts battles between Dragon Sound and various ninja, bikers, and roughnecks. Arms and heads are severed. Interspersed are rock performances and philosophical musing about love, friendship, and Tae Kwon Do.

From the opening where gangsters spray Uzis at hordes of ninja, Miami Connection is a chaotic mess. The disjointed plot is crammed with non sequiturs that director Y. K. Kim impulsively thought were cool. Fights happen for little narrative purpose. For instance, effeminate hoodlums dine and dash, so the restaurant owner beats their asses. In a later scene, shot at a real biker rally, women flash their breasts, a man inserts a carpentry nail entirely up his nose, and another man moons the camera. Much of the film’s dialogue seems improvised.

It is obvious Y. K. Kim never made a movie before, so it is ambitious of him to organize every aspect of its production and star as the hero. Despite his heavily accented English, he is one of the best actors in the entirely unprofessional cast. At least everyone seems to have some proficiency in martial arts, making for impressive melees and stunts. Also, Dragon Sound’s music was written and performed by cast members. It is pretty dumb (a villain even remarks, “It’s God damn kiddie music!”), but still remarkable. The triumphantly campy tunes Friends Forever and Against the Ninja could become internet memes.

Miami Connection’s climax follows a pointless plot thread in which a band member locates his long lost father. On their way to the reunion, the band is attacked by ninja. After their bandmate is wounded, the rest of the band goes crazy, massacring their assailants. With their opponents dead, they haul their friend to the hospital where he rejoins his missing father (actually a young guy made up to look old). Everyone leaves together and a message reads: “Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace.”

Although the film is confounding, Miami Connection’s vivaciousness and earnestness are winning. Y. K. Kim inspires admiration, like an idol and a best buddy combined. If all movies were this genuine, the world would be better.

Rating: 9/10 Shrunken Heads. From Against the Ninja: “We will stop the senseless killing! / We will end this evil war! / We will stop the senseless killing! / We will even up the score!”

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