Miami Connection (1986)

Rating: *
Review Date: 1/26/13
Cast: Y.K. Kim

"We must avenge our brother's death. They will not escape the Miami ninja!"

An amazing example of 1980's B-movie kitsch, starring tae kwon do grandmaster Y.K. Kim as a guitarist in a Florida based rock band called Dragon Sound. Wow. Unfortunately, the bass player is dating the sister of a Miami gang boss, and the band's popularity is somehow putting the squeeze on the local cocaine business. Numerous gangs attempt to force Dragon Sound out of town, but the band's martial arts prowess proves to be too strong. Eventually, the main bad guy sends the feared Miami ninja after the band for a final showdown. The revised happy ending leaves the bad guys dead and the good guys alive, which is the opposite of how the film was originally shot.

This film simply defies explanation. Dragon Sound is incredibly campy, singing songs about love, friendship, and the virtues of tae kwon do. Their signature song is "Against The Ninja," a forehead slapping tune about martial arts and good versus evil, with a rousing "TAE KWON DO!" chorus. At first I thought the refrain was "dancing ninja", which honestly might have been a better choice. The guys in the band are shirtless for the majority of the film, which gives it a somewhat creepy homoerotic vibe. And remember when men's half-shirts were in style? I've been trying to forget about that for thirty years now. And then there's all of the random weirdness: violent cocaine deals, motorcycle ninja, biker gangs, rival musicians who also happen to be gang members, awkward love scenes, random topless women, computer programming contests, Korean dining and philosophy, and a side plot about one of the band members trying to reconnect with his estranged father. It's just a complete cinematic mess. On the plus side, Y.K. Kim is the real deal, and his fight scenes are well done and quite entertaining. Unfortunately, the other stunt players aren't at the same skill level, so the timing and intensity are noticeably scaled back. More than anything it reminded me of Sho Kosugi's ninja films ("Revenge Of The Ninja" (1983), "Pray For Death" (1985) ), but lacking in quality and common sense.