Miami Connection (1988)
Miami Connection (1988)

Genre: Martial Arts and Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.

Release Date: August 18th, 1988 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Woo-sang Park Actors: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, Joseph Diamond, Maurice Smith, Angelo Janotti, Kathy Collier, William Ergle, Si Y Jo




omewhere in Miami, a motley crew of armed thugs (sporting comically outdated mustaches) is about to do business on a dilapidated dock. A large shipment of cocaine changes hands when a team of ninjas start hucking throwing-stars and thrusting swords. What ensues is a bloodbath of goofy proportions, in which characters scream exaggerated death throes, suffer severed limbs, and dive dramatically from their perches. “Where’s money?!”

Shortly thereafter, at a bumpin’ nightclub in Orlando, a lot more coke is ready to be distributed as a new house band – Dragon Sound – performs to a rollicking crowd. Laughably, an entire song unfolds, shot like a music video, suggesting that this film is also doubling as an opportunity to promote a band. And then the scene just fades, further reenforcing that notion. The next sequence begins at the University of Central Florida, where student Jane (Kathy Collier) meets up with her lanky boyfriend John (Vincent Hirsch), Dragon Sound’s bassist. But Jane’s brother Jeff (William Ergle), who deals coke with pal Yashito (Si Y Jo) and their gang of bikers, immediately disapproves, instigating a fight. No one is good enough for his sister – and the mere existence of the band somehow interferes with his ability to control his drug territory.

The plot hardly matters (nor do the names, considering the band’s keyboardist is named Jim [Maurice Smith] and the drummer is named Jack [Joseph Diamond]); seconds after Jeff tussles with John, another fight breaks out, this time with unimportant background roles (the club owner and the former house band), before Dragon Sound showcases yet another song … in its entirety. And then more than a dozen baseball-bat-wielding thugs stop Dragon Sound as they drive home from their gig, engaging in a massive melee across the street and through a construction zone, where guitarist Mark (Y.K. Kim) – along with the rest of the musical group – demonstrate their martial arts skills (it’s later stated that they’re all black belts in taekwondo). In fact, it seems as if everyone in the film – drug dealers, gang members, musicians, students, and ninjas alike – all know some sort of kung fu.

The soundtrack is hysterically pathetic, matched only by the unbelievably pitiful acting (Kim is especially ill-fitting, as his thick accent makes his dialogue largely indiscernible). It’s evident that the cast is comprised of wannabe martial artists first, wannabe musicians second, and wannabe actors third. Ultimately, they fail in every aspiration: the action sequences feature immoderately pulled punches, miss-by-a-mile swipes with weapons, and shoddily-placed slow-motion; the musical performances are cringe-inducing and repetitive, while the lyrics are preposterously lame; and the dialogue deliveries are so monotonic and insincere that they sound as if being read for the first time by people who aren’t fluent in English.

“Miami Connection” isn’t merely bad. It’s so deficient in every moviemaking aspect that it’s routinely hilarious; it’s one of those unimaginably shabby productions that is so dreadful that it provides constant amusement as it finds new ways to be lousy (the silliest moments involve Jim crying as he reveals a secret about his parents, all while wearing unbuckled jeans [in a subplot that doesn’t simply vanish, as it should], and Mark force-feeding his shirtless roommates grapes for breakfast). Even the final showdown with Yashito’s motorcyle-riding army of ninjas (“Uh-oh. Ninjas.”), in which some unexpected violence occurs, can’t save this picture from colossal, stupendous cheesiness. “We could write another taekwondo song.”

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10