Release Date: August 26th, 1988 (Central Florida theatrical run), December 11th, 2012 (re-release)
Directed by: Y.K. Kim
Written by: Joseph Diamond, Richard Park, Y.K. Kim
Music by: Jon McCallum
Cast: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, William Ergle, Siyung Jo, Kathie Collier, Joseph Diamond, Maurice Smith, Angelo Janotti
P.J.K. Group, Drafthouse Films, 83 Minutes
Why this film never got real distribution in the 1980s is beyond me. Y.K. Kim, the director and star of the film, almost bankrupted himself making this picture. Distributors, at the time, laughed at him and told him to throw his work away because it was trash. While it had a small three week run in Orlando, Daytona and Melbourne, Florida, it wasn’t until an employee of Alamo Drafthouse theaters bought this, sight unseen on eBay in 2012, that the film got real recognition.
Alamo Drafthouse put this film out through their distribution company Drafthouse Films. Since that time, people have seen it, it has been riffed on the big screen by RiffTrax and it has gained a big cult following. After breaking himself financially and after decades of his film being lost seemingly forever, Y.K. Kim got to see all that hard work finally pay off.
Miami Connection is a film that would have blown my mind, had I seen it in the 80s. While I could see it not doing well theatrically, it would have been huge on the rental market. It is a film that is superior to most of the low budget pictures trying to capitalize on the martial arts fandom that existed in huge numbers, at the time.
While the acting in Miami Connection leaves a lot to be desired, it is a perfect mix of martial arts, pop music, friendship and fucking ninjas! Yes, ninjas! Ninjas make everything better. Ninjas can make a turkey sandwich turn into a 36 oz. tomahawk ribeye.
The action in this film is better than great. It certainly surpasses what was the norm in 1987. It is heavy on the Tae Kwon Do, which featured a lot of amazing looking kicks. Again, it is heavy on ninjas. In fact, the big grand finale that pits our heroes against a gang of ninjas in the Florida swamps is so damn good that it makes solid 80s action films feel pretty mediocre by comparison.
The story isn’t even important here. Hell, the story is pretty bad and incredibly cheesy. But it does serve the purpose of making this group of friends a bad ass pop band that kills ninjas on the reg. So maybe the story is actually friggin’ amazing!
The absolute best thing about this movie is the music. It is ahead of its time. You see, it is 80s synth tunes but it sounds more like one of these modern retro DJs that uses modern technology to create throwback 80s instrumental jams. It sounds like something Kavinsky would make now. What that means, is that it has a strong 80s flair but there is something about it that makes it more refined and almost modern.
Look, you’re probably going to love this film or hate it. If you hate it, you probably aren’t all that cool, to be honest and I don’t want your film recommendations.
Also, the Maurice Smith in this picture is the same Maurice Smith that was a pretty good MMA fighter in the 90s and early 00s.