Blu-ray / DVD: ‘Miami Connection’
Miami Connection (Alamo Drafthouse) resurrects a gonzo B-movie from the eighties created by Y.K. Kim, a martial arts instructor and inspirational speaker who took his talents to the big screen despite a complete lack of screen charisma or acting talent.
Kim takes top billing as Mark, ostensibly the rhythm guitar player in a synth-rock band (his air-guitar stylings are apparently modeled on “Archie” cartoons) formed with a “family” of fellow orphans and Taekwondo black belts. Various complications throw them into conflict with a rival rock band and a gang of drug-dealing motorcycle Ninjas, who take time out from killing rival smugglers to ambush our heroes and kidnap their lead guitar player (Angelo Janotti). That’s serious business because he’s the only guy who can actually play an instrument in this group.
Kim plays comforting elder to his rainbow coalition of Taekwondo brothers (they all live together in the same suburban home, “Monkees” style) between brawls and breaking bricks with his hands and head, offering up most of the tired homilies in the script while the rest of the boys go through the motions of their own dramas.
The awkward direction and stilted-beyond-belief acting are broken up by the hilariously cheesy synth-rock numbers of Dragon Sound (their epic number “Against the Ninja” actually predicts the coming storyline: an example of musical foreshadowing?) and martial arts action scenes, which look downright competent next to the rest of the film.
Cast largely with martial arts instructors and students drafted into service, the performances are, shall we say, unconvincing. Some of them are inadvertently comic, and the often improvised dialogue exchanges are often surreal. The characters are named, by the way, John, Jack, and Jim, and are joined by female singer Jane, who is sister to bad guy Jeff. Hard to tell if screenwriter/co-star Joseph Diamand had a sense of humor or was simply stuck for names.