Film: Miami Connection

"Greetings from the most dangerous jungle in the world: the streets of Miami"

Miami Connection is a martial arts film produced in 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 Orlando (and not Miami) from the White Ninja's Cocaine Trafficking.

The official re-release trailer cut by Hobo with a Shotgun director Jason Eisener can be seen here.

On October 1, 2015, RiffTrax will be riffing the film live. The Cinema Snob has also reviewed it.

This movie contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Virtually everyone. Aesthetically, this film is almost a perfect time capsule from 1987.
  • 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.
  • Badass Mustache: Tom sports one in addition to his curly mullet and Carpet of Virility, making him so 80s it hurts.
  • Bad Boss: The White Ninja, who kills those who fail him.
  • Beard of Evil: Jeff sports a very thick beard.
  • Brick Break: Hashito demonstrates his martial arts prowess with a feat of brick-breaking. Unfortunately the actor only manages to break about 25% of the bricks in the stack.
  • Broken Aesop: The film ends with the message, "Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace." All of the band's problems are solved by violence.
  • Carpet of Virility: Tom shows off his hairy chest in just about every scene.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Most of the street toughs in the film carry a staff or club, many of them with spikes.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mark's taekwondo skills as demonstrated to his friends turn out to be useful when he fights the White Ninja.
  • Creator Cameo: Richard Park, the film's director, has a small role as Mark's uncle Song.
  • Deep South: A small but noticeable share of the mooks our heroes face off against are stereotypical deep south "redneck" types, often to the point of surreal caricature.
  • Disney Villain Death: How Jeff dies, sparing Mark the trouble.
  • Distressed Dude: Tom gets captured by Jeff's gang in order to lure out the rest of Dragon Sound.
  • Disproportionate Retribution
    • The old band threatens to run Dragon Sound out of town simply because they got replaced by them.
    • Jane's brother Jeff and his gang wants to take out Mark and his friends because Jane was dating John.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Suggested early on to be the ultimate moral of the film, but the plot drifts away somewhat.
  • Dull Surprise: "Oh, ninjas."
  • 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.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Especially when they ride on motorcycles during the day.
  • 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.
  • Humble Goal:
    • 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.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: The drug-snatching biker gang are also ninjas.
  • 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.
    • The ending. In what was before a silly, somewhat dumb 80s movie inexplicably has a dark, violent, grisly Final Battle.
  • Multinational Team: The members of Dragon Sound come from a range of different backgrounds including Korean (Mark), Italian (Tom) and Israeli (Jack).
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Cocaine-dealing motorcycle-riding Miami ninjas, coming to Orlando.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • The Power of Friendship: Some of the songs are based on it, including "Friends for Eternity".
  • Pretty in Mink: Jane wears a gray rabbit fur jacket in the scene where the heroes are challenged by another gang.
  • 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 this for Dragon Sound's rivals, and the rivals do not take getting fired, and then replaced by Dragon Sound, well at all. 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!
  • Shirtless Scene: Shirts seem to be in very short supply in Orlando during The '80s. 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.
  • Shovel Strike: One mook grabs a shovel during the trainyard fight, and tries to attack Mark with it. He gets his ass kicked.
  • 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.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Dragon Sound performs "Against the Ninja" while the evil ninja clan steals the cocaine. At this point, Dragon Sound has no idea who the ninja are or what they're doing.
  • 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.
  • The Villain Sucks Song: "Against the Ninja," which is about the cocaine-swiping ninja villains. Dragon Sound performs it at the beginning of the film, when it's suspiciously appropriate.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Hashito and Jeff visit a motorcycle rally.
  • Waving Signs Around: During the Beach montage, there's an out-of-place shot of a man from a Christian church holding a sign advocating the establishment of a nudist beach around the Orlando area.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?/Karma Houdini: After Jeff's death, his gang of Mooks isn't seen again. In fact, they're never arrested either; they practically got away with assaulting the heroes AND kidnapping one of them.
  • 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.