Stupid Cocaine!, was only one of the many phrases uttered in what may well be one of the greatest rediscoveries in the history of film. Sure Miami Connection, is not on the level of somebody unearthing a great haul of Japanese Silent Films, nor is it really even something of great social relevance, however, what Miami Connection is indeed, is a reminder that sometimes a really awful movie can have enough heart, earnest misdirection and absurdity to emerge like a phoenix into the loving arms of cinephiles with even the most refined of tastes. I often wax poetic on this blog about films reminding me that there are some serious issues occurring in our society as they relate to oppression, inequality and ignorance and while this is certainly not any less true on the blog today than it was before viewing this b-movie magic, I can say with a heavy degree of certainty that Miami Connection provided me with a welcomed escape from concern into a world of b-movie bliss. One review of this rediscovered, now cult-classic suggested that it stands alone as a singular proof of the existence of God, and while I am certainly still an atheist at heart, I kind of got where the reviewer was going, because the perfect combination of absurdity and earnestness appears otherworldly almost transcendent of explanation. A uneven stew of jump cuts, accidental breaking of basic filmmaking rules, the most incomprehensible storyline ever produced, and some of the most insanely misguided acting ever provides viewers with a spectacle for the ages. Often when I am engaged with a film and can sense my own being pulled towards the screen it is for a deeply perplexing or philosophically engaging film, when it comes to Miami Connection it is due entirely to my own inability to comprehend the madness unfolding before my eyes. Often with classic of a cult status they begin decent and split at the seams within moments, however, Miami Connection never has itself together, yet the film has so much heart and passion poured into it by the director, actors and all others involved that it almost formulates a perfect film in effort alone. In all its synth rock and tae-kwon-do gloriousness, Miami Connection is a film for the ages and begs to be brought back to live and viewed by anyone willing to reconsider their understanding of cinema, a veritable gift from the movie gods if you will.
Miami Connection centers on the challenges faced by a Orlando based synth-rock band named Dragon Sound, who also happen to engage in tae-kwon-do during their free time. The group consists of an ethnically varied group of men, including their leader and tae-kwon-do grandmaster Mark (Y.K. Kim), the bass-slapping lanky new wave kid John (Vincent Hirsch), the jerry curled Jim (Maurice Smith) whose quest to reconnect with his father proves a major plot point, as well as the unusually hairy John Oatesesque Tom (Angelo Janotti), as well as the soft-spoken, yet anti-drug use spouting Jack (Joseph Diamand). The group struggles to be taken seriously as a musical act, considering that club promoters and musicians assume them to be a child's act with their kung-fu heavy performances. Yet, while they do indeed get into a series of street fights over this issue of what could be described as band territory, it is, ultimately, a run in with a set of cocaine dealing ninjas that seems to push the narrative along, and yes you read that absolutely correct, the eventual villain within Miami Connection proves to be a ninja who deals in drugs in Florida, although that may not be as absurd as it sounds, after all it is Florida. John, in all his Michael Phelps look-alike glory is also forced to contend with one of the ninja cohorts, who has not taken the dating of of his sister by John lightly leading to yet another set of fights, one in which the bearded brother is killed, although Jim reminds his girlfriend that it had to be done, and she certainly seems quite indifferent to it all happening. Although the fights are important and the band's success is key to the plot...in theory, it all boils down to Jim finding his father and the last act of the movie certainly causes one to consider its possibility of occurring, ultimately, ending with a message of world piece and unity through nothing other than the martial art of tae-kwon-do, and of course, by ridding the streets of that "stupid cocaine."
I almost laugh at myself for trying to consider the critical theory as it relates to such an absurd piece of cinema, that is essentially about using the tenants of a martial art to create unity, however, there is seriously something to be said about how homoerotic the film Miami Connection proves to be, in fact, if it were not for the presence of John's girlfriend it would be really easy to describe the members of Dragon Sound as a group of gay orphans living in Orlando while practicing tae-kwon-do and music. I mean nobody ever appears to wear a shirt and when they do it is lacking as much material as humanly possible, take for example their band shirts, which I would go out of my way to own, were it not for a considerable lack of sleeves. While it may seem in jest to consider the homoerotic tendencies in this film, one must remember that it is assumed to be a group of young male orphans under the tutelage of an older sagely tae-kwon-do master, even if it is completely paternal, one cannot help but to consider the latent sexuality present in such a relationship, even if purely unconscious. Again, I cannot ignore the severe lack of shirts being worn within this film, by both the members of Dragon Sound, as well as the villains they face who are disgusting and evidence of everything gross I experienced a few years back in Daytona Beach, and what my friend describes as equally disgusting in Panama City. It is a particular strain of hypermasculinity in which the half-naked violent body seems to be praised, again tying to some obviously latent homoerotic desires, especially considering that the bad guys seem intent on using passive homophobic slurs as a means to criticize Dragon Sound. Hell there is also something to be said about an Asian-American ninja dressed in white and his lackeys all dressed in black riding around on motorcycles, although it is much easier just to use the 80's as an excuse for that. Ultimately though, Dragon Sound does some rather nice things in terms of promoting racial unity in America, and it is solely the result of group tae-kwon-do.
Key Scene: The scene in which Jim professes his desire to take a shower before everyone else evolves into some god damn poetic realist art in a matter of minutes.
Buy this movie and buy extra copies to send to your friends with no explanation whatsoever. It needs to be as much a force cult classic as it is an accidental discovery. Trust me, there is a time in your film viewing life before Miami Connection and one after, the latter being much more enriched. The folks at Drafthouse Films saved this work from obscurity so buy a copy from them or Amazon immediately as a much deserved thanks.