• Miami Connection

    Released by:
    Drafthouse Films
    Released on: 12/11/2012
    Director: Richard Park
    Cast: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, Joseph Diamand, Maurice Smith, Angelo Janotti, Kathy Collier, William Eagle
    Year: 1986

    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie:

    A new dimension in rock ‘n roll has infiltrated the Orlando, Florida metro area. Well, at least in one nightclub, becoming the house band and tearing up the scene with their sound. Dragon Sound to be exact. Mark (Y.K. Kim) leads Dragon Sound with his best friends forever: John (Vincent Hirsch) on bass, lead guitarist Tom (Angelo Janotti), Jim (Maurice Smith) rocking the synthesizer, and Jack (Joseph Diamand) on the electric drums. The newest member, who dances and sings on at least one song like Pat Benetar, is more than just a band member to John. Jane (Kathy Collie) is also his love bunny, much to the dismay of her badass, fishing lure earring-wearing older brother Jeff (William Eagle). Not only is Jeff a badass leader of his fat and sloppy gang, he’s also in cahoots with a gang of motorcycle-riding ninjas, led by the ruthless Yashito (Si Y Jo). Yashito gets his kicks out of busting up drug deals that are going down, stealing the dope and the money, the re-selling the dope for more money. And to top that all off, Yashito likes to hang around with a seemingly real-life biker gang.

    Dragon Sound shares more than just their love of music. They also practice Taekwon-Do together under Mark’s instruction, go to college together, and run around shirtless in the house they share (well, unfortunately new best friend forever Jane is excluded from the latter activity). Not only do they have to worry about Jeff and his protective jealousy over his sister and the bike ninjas, but they also have to watch out for the rival band they replaced as the house act in Orlando’s hottest nightclub. Those guys, with their sonofabitch-shouting bandleader, enlist the help of Jeff and his losers to unsuccessfully kick the asses of Dragon Sound. Many, many fights ensue. But, the story isn’t all about defending themselves against those out to get them. The group’s fellow orphan Jim has located his father and is going to finally meet the old man who abandoned him like a dirty diaper.

    The story has holes in it, the acting is awful, the fight scenes are clunky, and the movie is all over the place. Dragon Sound nearly encapsulates all that was terrible about mid-80s pop music, as do the fashions that everyone is sporting. There are scenes that are laughable that aren’t meant to be, and there are concepts that make no sense (how can ninjas be silent and secretive when they drive around town in broad daylight donned in full ninja garb, wearing swords? And if they are all orphans, how can they talk about going on a world tour and going to all the places their parents come from?). But it’s so blatantly put together with heart and soul it’s nearly impossible not get to swept up in the current this movie creates. It seems obvious that Y.K. Kim and his partner Richard Park (Woo-Sand Park, who also plays the owner of a choke ‘n puke the gang frequents) assembled the film with nothing but the best of intentions in making a great action movie with a message: violence is bad. That and maybe even the possibility of the film being a launching point for the new dimension in rock and roll, Dragon Sound. Except some of the band mates don’t really seem to know how to play any instruments.

    What also adds to this movie’s draw is the story behind it. Without getting too deep into it, as it’s covered nicely in the host of extra material, the film failed in its only screening, and received a pathetic release on VHS overseas. It wasn’t until Drafthouse Films bought a print for $50 on a whim in 2009 and screened it in their theaters that American audiences could enjoy it, other than on bootleg, and it has since gained a lot of momentum among the cult film audience.

    But this can now be seen by anyone, not just those “in the know”, and most people with any sense of humor would be hard-pressed not to find something enjoyable in Miami Connection. Be it for nostalgic reasons, a love for low-rent cinema, a love for martial art flicks, or even to make fun of it. You want thugs in Coca-Cola sweatshirts? Like your main bad guy to look like Kenny Loggins? Into shirtless and skinny men touching each other when they talk to one another? Baggy biker babe boobs? Violent, bloody, and abundant fist fights? A really, really bad crying scene? Fermented 80s music you won’t be able to shake out of your brain for days to come? It’s all here and tons more. It is truly a fine example of hearts being in the right place, and movie making know-how taking a back seat. It’s an absolute blast to watch and will no doubt stand up to multiple viewing.

    Check out our exclusive interview with Y.K. Kim by clicking here!


    A disclaimer appears when the disc that mentions the transfer was assembled from two sources, both of which have seen better days, but neither of which is anything to bitch about. Damage, dirt, scratches and the like are visible throughout the show, but it helps maintain the vibe of a cheap movie and it quickly becomes part of the experience. Colors look pretty good, black levels are all over the place, but detail is there, and there’s lots of natural grain. It doesn’t appear that noise reduction was used, at least to this layman, nor any edge enhancement. The budget, age, and rarity of the film make the less than stellar appearance totally forgivable. The audio is a 2-channel Dolby Digital track with nothing special to note. The pulsing rock beats of Dragon Sound come through nicely and the dialogue is all easily understood, except for Y.K. Kim at times. A very heavy Korean accent makes him a bit tough to understand, but we understand his fists of fury just fine. No authoring issues were noticed in either the video or audio departments.

    Drafthouse Films have really gone the extra mile on this release, supplying a heaping helping of supplemental material. A commentary track is available, featuring star/story writer/air guitar player/producer Y.K. Kim, and scriptwriter/co-star Joseph Diamand, moderated by Zack Carlson who also wrote liner notes. It’s a bit dry, but full of information and the two men recall TONS of information from a movie made 25 years ago. They talk about the various people in the movie, where they went after the movie slipped into limbo, and what they’re doing now. Many of the extras were students of Grandmaster Kim. Great stuff that’s well worth your time.

    Deleted scenes run about 12 minutes and are of course worth watching. Ogle at more biker boobs and marvel at an action sequence of the gang putting up a stolen mailbox so Jim can get letters from his father. An alternate and less satisfying ending (but no less awesome) is available as well. Dragon Sound gets together for a reunion concert at Fantastic Fest 2012, playing songs from the film, and that runs about 10 in length. “Friends for Eternity” is a roughly 20-minute “making of” featurette with all the members of Dragon Sound other than Jane making an appearance. A Y.K. Kim infomercial runs around 20 minutes and other than a curiosity piece, it’s not much to do with the movie. A quick little “Who Is Y.K. Kim” piece, and trailers for the film and other Drafthouse releases finish up the video goodies. And as a final touch, the disc cover has an alternate cover on the reverse side, and inside the cover is a 16-page booklet with an essay and photos, plus a coupon to download a digital copy if you feel the need.

    The Final Word:

    The Blu-ray/U.S. home video premiere of Miami Connection is a fantastic release of in every way. An absolute must have.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Some very important screenshots left out here, Ian.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      He did capture the toughest ball cap ever in a film, the "Colorado Outward Bound School" hat...