Fantastic Fest Review: 'Miami Connection'
This once-lost martial-arts rock-'n'-roll gem renders yours truly as only the second greatest thing to come out of Orlando in 1987
By William Goss Oct 15, 2012 12:34AM
The title on the print of “Miami Connection” shown at Fantastic Fest boasted the aptly nonsensical title of “Escape From Miami.” While there are drug-thieving ninja in Miami looking to settle a score in Orlando (where the story, as it were, is set), no one escapes from there -- they ride their motorcycles right on up I-95 in order to take care of business.
Then again, “Miami Connection” is the kind of movie where a title card establishing “Orlando, Florida” prominently features the Coral Gables Arena. (For those unfamiliar with the area, Coral Gables practically belongs to Miami.) Much of the film is actually shot in Orlando, though, to this former resident’s delight, and at my alma mater no less. It certainly explains the taekwondo residue that lingers over the University of Central Florida campus to this day.
UCF was apparently home to both the members and fans of Dragon Sound, the sleeveless and inexplicably adored synth-pop outfit led by Mark (Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, who had also written and co-directed the film in addition to casting his own students), best known for songs like “Against the Ninja” and “Friends Forever.”
Their blood feud with the musicians they were hired to replace does eventually lead to ninja revenge, but until then, we’re treated to rockin' concerts, rumbles down at Church Street Station, run-ins with clueless cops, giddy family reunions, detours to Bike Week, men feeding grapes to one another, casual decapitations, “stupid cocaine,” no-frills demonstrations of martial-arts technique, and people in the corner who are clearly trying to capture dialogue just out of frame with a tape recorder in hand.
It’s a movie packed with laughable dialogue and laughable performances, hardly assembled and barely released in the first place, yet rescued by Drafthouse Films not just to be laughed at (though that’s almost an inevitable reaction) but to be enjoyed (again, almost inevitable). “Miami Connection” may not be a good film in any conventional sense, but it’s great in countless ways.
Drafthouse Films will re-release “Miami Connection” this November.