Re-release of “Miami Connection” proves to be guilty pleasure

Andrew Marvin

Contributing Writer

There’s an odd, undefinable allure to the idea of a movie being so bad that it’s good. Why do we enjoy some bad movies but not others? For that matter, why do we enjoy some bad movies at all? Why “The Room” and not “The Lone Ranger?” I think that I have the answer: heart. If a movie has heart, we can enjoy it. A horrible movie can become a cultural landmark if it is made with the best intentions, even if it is not well-made. Maybe that is why “Miami Connection” is such a good “bad” movie: it was made as a passion project, and that passion shows. If our appreciation of certain movies is a measure of the degree to which they affect us, then this might accidentally be the worst masterpiece in the history of cinema.

The title can be a bit misleading. Let’s ignore the lack of articles and go straight to the first word: “Miami.” This movie doesn’t take place in Miami—at least, I don’t think it does. It takes place in Orlando, which in the scheme of things is close, but still not Miami. “Connection” implies some sort of coherence, which this movie also lacks. I’m not sure that you need coherence when the synopsis contains the phrase “roundhouse wreck-wave of crime-crushing justice.” The official summary isn’t much help past that, so I’ll try to decode the plot for your convenience:

A gang of motorcycle ninjas are terrorizing Florida and peddling what one character calls the “stupid cocaine.” They are somehow connected to a gang of bikers who are recruited by a band of newly-unemployed rockers to take down Dragon Sound: a synth-rock band comprised of Taekwondo-practicing college students. When Dragon Sound is attacked by the biker gang, they find themselves wrapped up in the conspiracy and must unleash the aforementioned roundhouse wreck-wave of crime-crushing justice on the syndicate. Looking back on that paragraph, I think that the most astounding thing about it is that I didn’t make any of it up. Even better, it takes itself completely seriously despite the bizarre story.

The plot isn’t important, though. What is important is that when “Miami Connection” gets rolling, it rolls off the rails, past the moon, and into the stars. People fight not because it makes sense for them to fight, but because this is the kind of movie where people should fight for no reason. These fights are all gloriously cheesy. For instance, the scene where Dragon Sound’s token black guy pops out of a barrel and brains a thug with a piece of rebar in a move worthy of Scooby-Doo, or when a hillbilly dances around one band member only to have his jaw pulverized. Grandmaster Y.K. Kim (the star, co-director, co-writer, and producer) takes great pride in the fact that the fights are all live-action, as are the two songs that Dragon Sound performs. One is called “Against the Ninja,” and the other is called “Friends,” and both are worth the price of admission alone.

When everything is so low-quality, why is “Miami Connection” worth watching? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because of the infectious positivity pervading the movie. There’s no way to watch this and not appreciate the sheer amount of effort that Kim put into it as well as the message that he tries to convey without much success. As a helpful title card informs us at the end of the movie: “Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace.” “Miami Connection” is fundamentally a feel-good movie even though it features a body count somewhere in the hundreds. There’s something stupidly endearing about it, something charmingly naïve, and against all odds, it is a truly enjoyable movie.

This movie was released in 1987 and recently re-released after 25 years of obscurity. Since I doubt that this will play at any local theater, you can either stream it on Netflix or order it from Drafthouse Films on DVD.

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