Get ready for the reunion tour of a lifetime. Getting the band back together, the ass kicking, taekwondo orphans, mega rock band Dragon Sound, is being resurrected for a brand new audience for some of the best 80s music around. Synth playing, mullet rocking, guitar shredding, pop infectious lyrics will get you jumping out of your seats, right before you are jump kicked back from the stage as Dragon Sound not only rocks the stage, but also rocks the criminal underworld and their “bad” cocaine in the film Miami Connection.
Miami Connection comes to us from the time capsule known as 1987, a time when ninjas and martial arts movies were the king of the action genre, a forgotten film that was purely made for 1987, but not for the crowd of that time. Drafthouse Films unearthed this relic of a bygone era of ninja riding drug gangs, ruling the Florida narcotics trade, but lo and behold, there is a group of rival ninjas who fight to clean up the streets, known as super rock group Dragon Sound. I can’t make this shit up folks, cocaine ninja clans and orphan, karate rock bands.
The plot is pretty much what you expect an 80s film to have. Something involving gangs, usually in the drug trade because the 80s were a fun time. There is also a band that secretly dispatches the ruffians of Miami while belting out some of the most infectious tunes of all time. Shit I am still managing to sing the lyrics to “Friends” about 5 days after I have seen this. There are ninja battle showdowns, kick ass rock shows, a subplot about finding the father for one of the orphans and all the terrible dialogue/action sequences that you can handle.
This film, no excuse me, this MASTERPIECE THAT TIME FORGOT, comes from Grandmaster Y.K. Kim who wrote, directed and starred in this martial arts, crime spectacle. With no background in filmmaking or even a deep knowledge of film, he embarked on a journey with several of his students and instructors (who star as the members of Dragon Sound) to make this cinematic marvel, with only the discipline of taekwondo giving them the strength to complete the movie. That, ladies and gentlemen, is filmmaking at it’s finest.
Everything about this movie is amateurish and atrocious to look at. You’ve got secondary characters talking over one another while they try and orient themselves on the “x” marker on the floor to get into position. The dialogue is blunt and direct, often in scenes that need a little subtlety; you get wild emotional swings in line delivery that throw you for a loop. The characters are often throwing out lines that aren’t needed for any reason, like needing to declare their intention to take a shower and often cat calling women on the beach while Grandmaster Kim chauffeurs them around. It just seems so weirdly out of place that it seems like a lot of this was done in one take. It is deliciously bad, but so enjoyable in a subversive way.
I haven’t even touched on the crowning pieces of the movie, the musical acts and the action sequence. Let me tell you this, Dragon Sound is now my favorite band of all time. There are two musical numbers, done in their entireties, which happen during particular times of the film. You got the pop ballad, “Friends” that champions that having friends is the most powerful force in the world, a wonderful parallel to the bond that the orphans have with one another. The last song is called “Against The Ninja” which goes into the fictional battle about overcoming a ninja force. We like to call that foreshadowing folks, because sure as shit, they battle motorcycle riding ninja gangs. Once you hear these songs, you will never, ever forget them.
Now for the action scenes, while they showcase a wide array of killer looking taekwondo moves, the choreography looks horrible. You have action moments where one bad guy will do a move, get blocked and then take a second to get back into position for the next step in the action. This happens for a majority of the fights. Sword swing clashes cause for moments of pausing, like the actors aren’t sure what happens next and it really shows that actual fighting technique doesn’t translate well to the showy nature that is movie fighting. But action sequences are made up for the sheer madness of what unfolds on screen. You’ve got numerous limbs being chopped off, people being impaled left and right, and so much screaming from people being stabbed as well as by the people doing the stabbing. It’s insane, the amount of controlled chaos that is happening, that you just sit back and get assaulted by the visual aspects of the movie. Master Kim does know what to give the audience when he slows down particular moves to add a bit more flair and drama.
I haven’t even begun to the touch of the subplot on one of the orphans going out in search of his father or even about a rival band that sparks a street fight with Dragon Sound. Hell, this movie is just chock full of nonsensical scenes of beach romping and weird, male bonding moments. The acting, dialogue, directing, and action are just what you expect from a Z-grade movie, but damn is it fun to enjoy in this relic. It seems like the sort of movie that a 10 year old kid in 1987 would come up with if given a pen and paper and told to write down what you love to see in movies. It’s the only way to explain Miami Connection. A rollicking, ass kicking, rocking time at the movie and frankly, I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. This, to me, is a perfect movie.
5 Limited Edition Dragon Sound 7” Vinyl Records out of 5
By Nick Guzman