Have you heard the one about the rock band made up of martial artists who fight ninjas when they're not rocking out in the club? Yeah, neither had I until seeing Miami Connection, a b-grade bomb from 1987 that's been plucked from obscurity by Drafthouse Films in an attempt to reconnect this forgotten relic with audiences amped up on a "so-bad-they're-good" kick. The big surprise is that, despite highlighting some of the most inept filmmaking this side of Ed Wood or Tommy Wiseau, the revival campaign is absolutely a well-placed bet; as far as terrible films go, this one's a hoot, offering up more than enough unintentionally comedic moments to recommend it to any and all lovers of absurdly poor cinema.
What little plot there is centers around the band Dragon Sound, a group of friends (how do we know they're friends? Because they proclaim it loudly in their song "Friends"at the beginning of the film) who play together and steadfastly fight "Against the Ninja" (yes, that's their other song) whenever they're not busy attending the University of Central Florida (an obvious point of pride made apparent by the sheer amount and variety of UCF t-shirts worn by them).
If it sounds like I'm discussing the characters in an overly generalized way, it's because there's really not a lot of nuance to how they're drawn in the film. Director/actor Y.K. Kim might be billed as the lead, but there's such an evenhanded diplomacy employed here that there's really no hierarchy in place here. When the plot turns to the conflict between Jane (Kathy Collier) and her evil, ninja-affiliated brother, she's the lead. When things inexplicably shift to Jim (Maurice Smith) locating his father via snail mail, the members of Dragon Sounds (sans shirts) earnestly lift him on their shoulders, suggesting that Jim is the lead. A masterpiece of clarity in screenwriting this is not, though it is frequently hilarious in just how clumsily its story is stitched together.
Did I mention that the ninjas are coke-dealers? Or that a film named Miami Connection is actually set in Orlando, Florida? Or that the ninjas are also a motorcycle gang; yes, much like Dragon Sound's musician/student/martial artist membership, these ninjas can multitask, too. Between the poorly choreographed fight scenes, club audiences who couldn't clap on beat to save their lives, a scene devoted almost entirely to leering at girls on the beach, and the endless parade of stilted performances, it'd be easy to assume that Miami Connection is deserving of its status as an overlooked film of the 80s. Quite the contrary, it's arguably a severely flawed diamond in the rough, absolutely worth celebrating for the convoluted contours of its ineptitude.
Take a look at the trailer and try to tell me you're not intrigued:
Miami Connection plays two-nights-only at the Hollywood Theatre on Friday, November 23rd at 9:30pm and Saturday, November 24th at 7:30 & 9:30pm. More info available here.
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