"Greetings from the most dangerous jungle in the world: the streets of Miami"
Miami Connection is a martial arts film from 1987. The brainchild of director Richard Park and writer/producer/star Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, a Korean Tae Kwon Do expert and motivational speaker, the movie revolves around the adventures of Dragon Sound, a rock and roll band composed of orphaned black belts/college students played mostly by real life students of Y.K. Kim.As the film begins, a shadowy band of ninja bikers (led by the mysterious White Ninja) is cornering the central Florida cocaine trade by ruthlessly eliminating its rivals. Unfortunately for our heroes, The White Ninja's Orlando associate, the thuggish gang leader Jeff, is the brother of Dragon Sound's newest member, Jane. Opposed to Jane dating John, the band's lead guitarist, Jeff is enlisted by rival musicians to destroy Dragon Sound once and for all, setting up a conflict resulting in a final showdown between Dragon Sound's leader Mark (Kim) and the leader of the Miami Ninja.Cue the non-stop martial arts action, the 80s new wave songs that will stick in your head for a week, the ham-fisted romance and overacted family drama as Dragon Sound is caught up in an plot to save Orando (and not Miami) from the White Ninja's Cocaine Trafficking. It's as if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and Splinter) were in a band and Shredder dealt in high quality blow.The official re-release trailer cut by Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener can be seen here.
This movie contains examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Those ninja swords are insane. Witness as one of ninjas gets his head cut off at the neck with one strike and another gets slash on his face that looks like clay. Also, one of the cocaine dealers in the beginning of the movie gets his arm cut off with one strike.
Avenging the Villain: After Jeff dies, Hashito the white ninja has a flashback of him and Jeff together and then goes out to kill the members of Dragon Sound.
Badass Crew: Dragon Sound, a band that also knows taekwondo and manages to hold its own when vastly outnumbered in street fights.
'80s Hair: Virtually everyone. Aesthetically, this film is almost a perfect time capsule from 1987.
Engrish: Mark suffers from a serious condition of this, making almost all his lines very hard to understand.
Fake Shemp: In the reshot version of the climactic scene, the White Ninja is played by William Eagle (Jeff), as the original actor was no longer available.
Fan Disservice: At the motorcycle ralley, we get some random shots of rough-looking biker chicks flashing the camera and getting groped by bikers, and then a male biker moons at the camera.
Funbag Airbag: Tom gets knocked into the cleavage of a girl sunbathing at the beach when he tries to hit on some ladies. The girl and her friends then slap him and throw him away.
Guns Are Worthless: The drug smugglers in the beginning are all armed with Uzis and fail to hit any of the attacking ninjas. The only other gun is owned by the leader of the rival band, who decides to cock it and pose directly beside the hiding Jim, who knocks him out.
Improv: A lot of the dialogue is obviously improvised or at best loosely scripted. The Ham-to-Ham Combat between the rival band and the club owner is obviously not scripted, with each character blurting repetitive dialogue on top of the others.
Improvised Weapon: Various character grab sticks and barrels to throw and whack each other with. Jim puzzlingly carries a short piece of PVC pipe to the rescue of Tom, even though he would have had plenty of time to pack a better weapon.
The heroes simply want to get a tour of their band together. They have no other goal besides reacting to people trying to kill them.
The villains are motivated to destroy Dragon Sound to get the proceeds of a club band gig. That's their entire stake. The rival bands wants to replace them as the regular club band and Jeff gets involved on the prospect of getting that gig money for himself.
It's Personal: When Jim gets seriously wounded in the final battle, both Mark and John go psycho on the remaining ninjas.
Jump Cut: Used very inappropriately and is very jarring to the flow of the movie.
Katanas Are Just Better: The final battle is mostly conducted with katanas. Dragon Sound, in spite of studying the Korean art of Tae Kwon Do, seem perfectly comfortable handling the Japanese swords.
Knight of Cerebus: Once the White Ninja sends his ninjas against Mark and his friends, the movie suddenly takes a very dark tone that greatly contrasts the happier mood of the earlier scenes.
Large Ham: The manager of the old band, who seems to be shouting all of his lines.
Mood Whiplash: The movie is filled with them, but for the wrong reasons.
John goes into Jane's classroom and flirts around with her. The next scene is her talking about her divorced parents and how she doesn't like her gang leader brother.
John teases Jim by not letting him get his mail. After he gets it, Jim gives a long, tearful monologue about his long-lost father. Immediately after this scene, Jim and the rest of the gang frolic at the beach.
Multinational Team: The members of Dragon Sound come from a range of different backgrounds including Korean (Mark), Italian (Tom) and Israeli (Jack).
Overcrank: Intended to make the martial arts moves more impressive, it often just highlights the amateurish choreography.
Non-Indicative Name: The ninjas steal a shipment of cocaine in Miami in the opening scene, but neither Miami nor the ninjas' drug escapades have any bearing on the rest of the plot.
Old Shame: The film was this for Y.K. Kim, until it's rediscovery in 2010 by the B-movie crowd.
Orphan's Ordeal: The members of Dragon Sound are all orphans. Jim is very concerned over finding his long-lost father.
Overprotective Dad: Jeff plays this role for his sister. He's dead-set against her going out with John because he thinks John's a loser.
Pipe Pain: Jim brings a section of PVC pipe to Tom's rescue.
Playing Gertrude: The actor playing Jim's dad has white powder in his hair and is clearly younger than "his son".
Random Events Plot: There are scenes in this movie that just happen with no exposition, lead-in, or explanation made for them. One example is when the good guys eat at an Asian restaurant, and that's all they do for the entire scene.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Jim get mortally wounded by the ninjas, the Mark and John unleash their rage on the ninjas and brutally kill them all in another Mood Whiplash by the movie. Jim gets better, thankfully.
Say My Name: During the final battle, Mark screams Jim's name into his face for several seconds.
Screaming Warrior: The gang at the end when they are attacking the ninjas, contrasting with their nice attitudes from the beginning of the film.
Serious Business: Being the in-house band of a particular Orlando club is serious business for Dragon Sound's rivals, and they take getting fired and replaced by Dragon Sound badly. They're so obsessed with getting their job back that they actually hire thugs to kill them! In fact, they're so obsessed with getting their job back they offer their future paycheck for playing as payment to the thugs!
The Shelf of Movie Languishment: Though produced in 1987 (and given a regional run in 1988), the film wouldn't see a major release until 2012, when Drafthouse Films bought a film print on eBay and restored it with permission from Y.K. Kim.
Shirtless Scene: Shirts seem to be in very short supply in Orlando during The Eighties. Half of the cast goes shirtless for no particular reason. In the final scene, John rips his shirt off after while going on a stabbing spree.
Society Marches On: Our heroes make cat-calls and shout propositions at girls on the beach from their car, which is generally regarded as harassment today.
Technical Pacifist: No one in Dragon Sound wants to do any more than rough their rivals up if they had no other choice. Then Jim nearly gets killed. No one lives!
True Companions: Dragon Sound, who are apparently all orphans. Their main song, "Friends," is about the power of friendship.
Villains Out Shopping: The White Ninja seems to be both a ninja and a biker at heart and enjoys hanging with big burely and bearded bikers.
The Villain Sucks Song: "Against the Ninja," which is about the cocaine-swiping ninja villains. Strangely, the song gets sung at the beginning of the film, when the band would have no idea who the ninjas are or what they were doing.
World of Badass: Apparently, everyone in the movie knows martial arts. Even the band managers have a fight scene to themselves. Almost the entire cast, including extras and background bodies, were recruited from Y.K Kim's students.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: In spite of being a Tae Kwon Do blackbelt, Tom does not defend himself from the various women who attack him on the beach. His friends have to drag him away by the foot when he curls into a fetal position.