Miami Connection (1987)
"A martial arts rock band goes up against a band of motorcycle ninjas who have tightened their grip on Florida's narcotics trade."
What did I just watch? From what you can gather from the box art and the blurb, you still really don't get an idea of what exactly it was that I just watched. I'm pretty sure that it was good, although it was also pretty bad, and at the very least I can say that whatever it was I enjoyed it. It has heart, it has soul, and it has taekwondo. Why don't we all step back from trying to understand that sentence and I'll get on with trying to make this a bit more understandable than it sounds already, but I will tell you that if any of you are at all familiar with how goofy 80's Far Cry: Blood Dragon was, then you might be able to make a few connections of your own.
The movie starts off with something we haven't seen too often blended into something we have: a drug deal is going down complete with fellows in suits and people holding uzis, when we suddenly are introduced to ninjas doing what ninjas do best in a night time scenario. As the drug deal is about to complete, the ninjas spring their trap, taking on and defeating the entire present drug dealers, and stealing their money and their drugs by riding off into the night on their motorcycles. Yes, that is a clue to how this movie is going to progress: motorcycle gang ninjas.
After this point Yashito (Si Y Jo), the leader of the drug-dealing ninjas, meets up with a 'brother' of his named Jeff (William Eagle) down in Orlando at a club to discuss some business. Jeff notices his sister Jane (Kathy Collier) on stage with the band Dragon Sound , of which he states his disapproval to Yashito but they go about their business anyways. It is at this point that we learn a valuable piece of information about this movie: If a band is playing, expect the fake performance to last the entire length of the song. The lyrics, oddly enough, do seem to strike a chord with the movies plot as a whole however, so it can at least be argued that the music is relevant even when we are forced to watch the entire 'concert' for the song.
From here, we get introduced to the good guys of Dragon Sound: Mark (Y.K. Kim) the leader and expert of Taekwondo, Jim (Maurice Smith), Tom (Angelo Janotti), Jack (Joseph Diamand) and John (Vincent Hirsch). These guys are all like brothers to each other, all orphans (with the exception of later on when we find out that Jim has a father who he's been searching for for a long time), and each is representative of a different country (making the band a real international experience). Of the batch, Jack, John, and Mark are the resident Taekwondo crew, even though in this movie everyone and their sister seems to know how to do some kung-fu fighting.
The plot thickens as the gangs of Orlando are constantly trying to beat up our guys of DS (a rival band who is out of a job because of them and angry over being beat up by the kung-fu expert club owner when they try and force him to change his mind, as well as Jeff who's pressured to deal with the situation by Yashito while also being angry about his sisters involvement with the band (and romantically with John). What ensues is a lot of martial arts fighting in various situations, until the final escalation of the movie.
After a climactic battle between Yashito and Mark, we get our final scene at the hospital, where Jim's dad joins in for a happy ending.
Plot aside, let me elaborate here on why the cryptic "good but bad" intro. The acting in this movie is not all that good. Although scenes where the boys are interacting and generally goofing off are relatively decent, this thing is by no means coming close to winning any awards for acting. Jim's dad, when he finally gets some lines, is probably one of the worst culprits as far as acting goes (really dry delivery), but across the film people are doing a job that leaves one to wonder just how into being in the movie they were.
Soundtrack wise, it has some pretty catchy music, including the track Friends that might be familiar to anyone who stuck around for the credits of the game Blood Dragon . The rest of the soundtrack is just as catchy, with lyrics that actually apply to the movie dealing with friendship, ninjas, and Taekwondo, and all have that wonderful 80's techno-rock / pop quality to them. That being said, the consistency of the movie to make a "live" performance out of every song that Dragon Sound plays can get a bit annoying.
Fight scenes are also a mixed bag. While some of the fight scenes are well choreographed, some of them are on the polar opposite end, and it's hard to tell if someone simply dodges out of the way or it was supposed to be "I'm hit and falling" from an attack. It's enjoyable enough that I didn't outright walk away from the fights, but it's bad enough that you most likely will be laughing at them regardless of you best intentions. The effects of the violence, when they do happens, are standard 80's B-movie affair, a bit over exaggerated but also not overdone either.
So what can I possibly say in closing about Miami Connection ? I certainly cannot recommend this movie to everyone out there, but if you like feel-good movies, or friendship movies about martial arts, you might be able to make it through it. If you like cheesy (and I mean super cheesy) 80's action flicks, you might enjoy it. If you happen to be the kinda person who acts all snooty about movies and they have to have a budget of at least X million dollars with award winning acting performances, then I don't know why you would have even made it this far down in the review. Nothing against you snooty movie watcher, honestly, but I enjoy some pretty outrageous movies (this one included).