Film Review


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Miami Connection

Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, as Mark, slashing a ninja in Miami Connection. [Photo: Drafthouse Films]

Miami Connection

In the annals of cinema, there's no shortage of stories of films lost, films forgotten, films that never were, and those that came to be under the most unlikely of circumstances. A minor, if memorable, footnote in this pantheon is the 1987 action spectacle Miami Connection, which luckily never fell into the hands of the folks behind Mystery Science Theater 3000, who would have likely seen it as a prize specimen and went for the jugular. Instead, the film opened in West Germany and was essentially never heard from again—at least, that is, until an Alamo Drafthouse programmer discovered a dusty print of Y.K. Kim and Park Woo-sang's film and screened it in the summer of 2010 as part of their Weird Wednesdays series (with this critic in attendance). The response was immense, almost transcendent, leading to encore presentations and ultimately a limited re-release.

Laughable in many respects, the film's off-the-walls insanity stems from the combined naïveté and earnestness of its creators, who seemed intent on fusing as many popular trends of the day—a dollop of glam rock, a dash of Scarface—into a single film in hopes of spreading their (not entirely consistent) messages of peace and goodwill ("Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace," reads the final title card). Call it a guilty pleasure, but the combination of awkward line readings, histrionic dialogue, vague plotting, nonsensical montages, feverishly choreographed action sequences, garish makeup, and obviously lip-synched musical numbers quickly finds a unique rhythm and energy that manages to bypass typical action-movie expectations (even those for Hollywood trash) and instead delivers something far more personable, almost abstract in nature, embracing the absurd with infectious sincerity.

The film is best described as a loosely connected series of events in which people tend to kick each other in the throat. Our mutually orphaned protagonists are trained taekwondo fighters and members of a nightclub band called Dragon Sound, their latest gig the old spot of hothead musician John (Vincent Hirsch), who wants his old job back and makes a deal with the local ninjas (yes) to eliminate his new rivals. Throw in a drug deal gone wrong, a forbidden-romance subplot, and one character's quest to find his father, and there's just enough material to justify the onslaught of ass-kicking absurdity, which culminates in an intensely melodramatic climax too silly to take at face value yet too heartfelt to dismiss outright. Love it or hate it, it's doubtful you'll ever forget it, and it may just force you to redefine your definition of what constitutes "good" cinema.

Director(s): Y.K. Kim, Park Woo-sang Screenwriter(s): Joseph Diamand Cast: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, Joseph Diamand, Maurice Smith, Angelo Janotti, Kathy Collier, William Eagle, Si Y Jo, Park Woo-sang, William P. Young, Joy Share, William Whitacre, John Leeson, Sue Jacotta Distributor: Drafthouse Films Runtime: 86 min Rating: R Year: 1987

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