1/2 StarIf you were of age during the 1980’s karate craze, than you probably remember posing as a dummy for a novice practitioner attempting to demonstrate the latest move they had learned in class. My friend use to tell me, attack in a stabbing manner and I’ll show you the defense. My slow and perfunctory challenge was always muted by an awkward physical disarming of the imaginary weapon I wielded. Miami Connection is reminiscent of that experience. It is ungainly and not of much use to anyone. This should have been a sweet time for fans of the Martial Arts film genre to rejoice and collectively drool over a recently discovered gem from the era. I’m greatly disappointed to report back; Miami Connection is one of the most bizarre films I’ve seen outside the art-house indie market.
This is a movie that follows a group of band members known as the Dragon Sound. They are not only musicians, each are also highly skilled in Tae Kwon Do. We know this because they perform their concerts in traditional karate garb and sing a song titled ‘Tae Kwon Do’. Did I mention all the members are also orphans whom share an apartment?
One of the group members, and it’s not the one who is an exact doppelgänger for Freddy Mercury, gets entangled in a dangerous love affair with the sister of a rival gang leader. I couldn’t tell if the strange relationship between the girl and her brother was an homage to Shakespeare or Scarface. I’m probably looking too hard.
It takes about 40 minutes, or half of the films’ running time to decipher what direction the plot is moving in. There are no less than six musical numbers that stop the film cold for three minutes at a clip. In those moments I thought Miami Connection was morphing into Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire, but that film had original music that was good. The soundtrack here is filled with terrible wanna be hair-metal with lyrics that spell out the plot. That must be due to the fact the screenplay doesn’t do the job.
I believe that Miami Connection was made with every intention of being a serious addition to the catalogue of Asian helmed karate movies from three decades ago. In reality the filmmakers and actors have created something that resembles a rock and roll fable mixed with Romeo and Juliet’s tale of forbidden romance. While this shares cult status with titles such as Troll 2, it doesn’t have that film’s sense of fun. I dare you to sit through the entire thing and not fast-forward through the musical numbers. Miami Connection is an utter waste and doesn’t deserve the backing of the influential Alamo Draft House, I can think of other more worthy titles that merit discovery by accepting audiences.
Directed: Y.K. Kim
Stars: Y.K. Kim, Joseph Diamond, Vincent Hirsch