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Review: Miami Connection

I am currently subscribed to multiple streaming services that provide access to nearly unlimited movies. Thousands of long unavailable masterpieces and hidden gems are at my fingertips… yet I find myself increasingly drawn to what some might consider “trash” cinema: giallo, shot-on-video J-horror, early splatter flicks, and other such kitsch. And tonight, this path has inevitably led me to Miami Connection. I’ve known about this one for a while—virtually every YouTube critic takes a shot at it once they’re done ripping into The Room and Birdemic—but I’ve always been wary about actually spending money on it. Well, thanks to Fandor, I didn’t have to. And thank goodness: it was exactly the kind of mindless diversion I needed after a long, exhausting week back at work.

I suppose a synopsis is in order for the benefit of the uninitiated. Released in 1988 and promptly forgotten until Drafthouse Films rescued it from obscurity two decades later, Miami Connection tells the story of a gang of ninja bikers looking to expand their Miami-based drug trafficking enterprise to include the Greater Orlando area. The only thing standing in their way is the rock and roll band Dragon Sound, a group of five orphans that attend classes at UCF, practice taekwondo, and sing genuinely catchy songs about the power of friendship.

It’s also an unintentional documentary about writer/director/star Y.K. Kim, a man knowledgable in a great many subjects… in theory. For example, he’s clearly a skilled martial artist… in theory; in practice, this expertise fails to translate to fluid fight choreography—more often that not, the villains obligingly freeze mid-strike to give our heroes ample opportunity to counterattack. He knows how music is supposed to work… in theory; in practice, he holds his guitar like a six-year-old struggling to play Rock Band 2 for the first time. Finally, he knows how a cinematic narrative is meant to be structured… in theory (at the very least, he’s seen Purple Rain, The Warriors, and a handful of Cannon productions); in practice, his desperate search for a through line to anchor the action leads to an overabundance of pointless subplots, clumsily executed setups and payoffs, and lots of padding.

And that obvious lack of experience is an absolute treasure; Miami Connection is so damn funny, I’m tempted to speculate that it’s secretly a Zucker Brothers style parody. Having tested the waters, I’d now gladly pay to see it in a theater—if only to witness the audience’s response.

[Originally written March 25, 2018.]

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