Cult Movie Review: Miami Connection [1987]

Miami Connection [1987]

Miami Connection [1987]
Directors: Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park
Genre: Action/Crime
Starring: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch and Joseph Diamand
Runtime: 83 minutes

Every now and then, the stars align to create a film that is so ridiculous that it just begs to be seen.

Miami Connection, the latest cult movie sensation that is hitting the midnight theater circuits, is a prime example of this. I dare you to name another film that features motorcycle-riding ninjas, middle-age thugs and an 80s New Wave band that also happen to be experts at Tae Kawn Do.

The mastermind of this film, director/writer/lead Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, gathered a group of his friends (including one who is a dead-ringer for Michael Phelps), all of whom had no prior acting experience, to create a film that serves as a ringing endorsement for Tae Kwon Do.

Kim plays Mark, a member of the New Wave band, Dragon Sound, that seems to have exactly two songs to their name (and yes, we hear both of them in their entirety more than once). The band is a tight-knit group, performing night-after-night while also living together. They are BFFs, yo.

Dragon Sound gets a gig as the house band of a local night club — “somewhere in Miami” — but soon find themselves entangled in gang warfare after the band they replaced seeks revenge. Our heroes are continually harassed by random groups of thugs — including a scene in which the bad guys dump perfectly good beer over their heads — before finally they have had enough and start using their Black Belt Tae Kwon Do expertise to fight back.

There are a couple of other inane subplots, including a band member searching for his long-lost father, but they are just diversions from the amusingly choreographed martial arts scenes. It’s clear that Kim and his buddies are quite talented in Tae Kwon Do, and it’s fun to watch them destroy countless bad guys. Watching the four of them annihilate endless waves of thugs never gets old.

Miami Connection [1987]

This movie has all the makings of a camp classic, and it’s full of bad acting, poorly dubbed dialogue, terribly improvised lines, and cheesy special effects. Throw in the ridiculously catchy tunes of Dragon Sound and this is one of the best experiences you can have in the theater this year.

I was a little skeptical about Miami Connection at first; after all, how could it live up to other cult hits like The Room or Troll 2? But as soon as the characters just started talking, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Seriously, this post doesn’t do the film justice at all. If you’re into “so bad they’re good” movies, this is a must see.

Rating on a normal scale: 2/10
Rating on an entertainment scale: 9/10

See for yourself what this is all about with this hilariously awesome trailer:

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Movie Project #47 and #48: Tokyo Story [1953] and Army of Darkness [1992]

The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.

Tokyo Story [1953]
Tokyo Story [1953, Yasujirō Ozu]
Starring Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama and Sô Yamamura.

My first Ozu film is a sad one. This highly-regarded classic follows the lives of a Japanese family in the country’s post-war recovery period. An elderly couple take the all-day train trip to Tokyo to visit their children and spend some time with them. The children, however, are all busy and have little time to be with their parents. Their eldest son, Koichi (Yamamura), is a doctor who is always on the go, and their eldest daughter, Shige (Haruko Sugimara) is a busy hair salon owner. That leaves the couple’s widowed daughter-in-law Noriko (Setsuko Hara) as the only person who is able (or willing) to sacrifice work to be with them. Everyone means well, they just can’t help always being occupied.

The movie takes a depressing turn in the second half, as the mother grows ill on the return trip home. The children make immediate trips to be with her, but nothing changes. They spend little time with their parents and ultimately leave earlier than expected. In this regard, the film is bleak and depressing, yet it is also realistic. Everyone has their own lives, and sometimes it is hard to break away from them even to spend time with their loved ones. Ozu paints this in a very straightforward manner, and we are merely seeing what is a common occurrence. The movie is remarkably well-made, but it crawls along at such a slow pace that extreme patience is needed for most of it. Tokyo Story demands attention, and while I appreciate its value, I found it to be one of the more challenging films in my project. 7.5/10

Army of Darkness [1992, Sam Raimi]
Army of Darkness [1992, Sam Raimi]
Starring Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz and Marcus Gilbert.

To prepare myself for Army of Darkness, I re-watched The Evil Dead (it had been several years) and also checked out Evil Dead II for the first time. Both were a lot of fun, though I think I prefer the original due to its stronger horror emphasis. Evil Dead II sent things in a more comedic direction, and Army of Darkness took this idea and ran with it. With only a slight reliance on horror, the trilogy’s conclusion opts for a greater slapstick influence. While I was entertained for the most part, I can’t say I was a big fan of some of the humor presented. There were a handful of scenes that annoyed me more than anything, such as when Ash (Campbell) is fighting several miniature versions of himself.

Still, I loved the movie’s cheesy one-liners, several of which were later unashamedly ripped off by Duke Nukem. The epic battle between the medievil soldiers and the army of dead was great fun, and the special effects were aesthetically pleasing. I can see why this has a cult following, and I enjoyed the movie for the most part, but I would rather watch the first two in the trilogy if given the choice. 7/10