Looking for a bizarre B-Movie to enjoy this holiday season? You can hardly go wrong with Miami Connection.
Here's a single sentence that will help you determine if Miami Connection is your kind of B-Movie: The opening scene is a fight sequence between ninja bikers and drug dealers in 1980s business suits.
Outside of the phrase "Somewhere in Miami" (made ominous by lightning and nighttime filming) absolutely no dialogue is added to provide context for this scene. A group of criminals, armed with uzis, wait in an abandoned area until finally joined by men in business suits. The leaders of both parties are clearly marked because they're wearing white hats. Without a word, product is exchanged: bags of cocaine hidden inside a Korean food shipment.
But it turns out these drug dealers were right to carry weapons, even if they wouldn't do much good. As this meeting proceeds, ninjas (who arrived nearby on motorcycles) are sneaking into position. Once the money and drugs are confirmed to have arrived, they strike. The drug dealers and their automatic weapons don't stand a chance against ninjas armed with swords and shirukens. Those who survive the longest are those who attempt to match them with martial arts, but even they are quickly overcome. Their work complete, the ninjas grab the cocaine and money and flee to their home base.
Sadly, these aren't charitable, good guy ninjas clearing out drug dealers in the area. These are evil motorcycle ninjas, who have slowly been been taking control of Florida's drug trade and murdering the competition. Seemingly unstoppable, no one can stand in their way...
... Except for a band of musicians who happen to be black belt Taekwondo experts. Because that's the kind of movie Miami Connection is.
Created in 1987, Miami Connection was born when Korean filmmaker Richard Park saw martial arts instructor Y.K. Kim on a Korean talk show. Park immediately got in touch with Kim and proposed producing an independent martial arts film, under the working title of Kim's dojo TaeKwon-Do. Kim became enamored with the project, writing the script and starring as the lead while heavily investing his savings in the film. But the finished film almost bankrupted Kim, if it weren't for a small distribution company finally buying it for $100,000. (For context, the film cost about $1 million to produce.)
Almost everyone involved in the project never took part in a movie again, and Kim himself went on to become a motivational speaker. But Miami Connection itself languished in obscurity until Drafthouse Films re-released it through a series of midnight showings. It's certainly done far better in the "so-bad-it's-good" category of movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would have lampooned mercilessly.
Not that you can't enjoy Miami Connection on its own merits, which feels like a movie that came from the same universe as Double Dragon. Its heroes are members of the band Dragon Son, provided the simple names of Mark (played by Kim), John, Jack, Jim, and Tom. Their hit music brings sellout crowds to the clubs they play at, despite being basically the same verse played over and over and over and over and over. (Seriously, we spend a lot of time on band scenes for a movie about ninja fights.) Their latest band member is John's girlfriend Jane, a student at the University of Central Florida.