The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Miami Connection (1987)

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This is one of those cheese classics, the kind of thing the DTVC was made for.  The question then is: is it so bad it's good, or just so bad?  We've seen plenty of both in our nearly 900 films, but when this became available on Netflix Instant, I knew I had to do it either way.  Also, our buddy from Sweden, Fred Anderson, Ex-Ninja, has looked at this too, and you can go there to see what he says.

Miami Connection is about some ninja bikers from Miami who steal drugs and drug money there and are looking to move those drugs in Orlando.  The man they use to sell those drugs runs his own gang there, but his sister is dating a guy in a local band that he doesn't like, which is causing friction.  That band, a group of five orphaned Tae Kwon Do champs, led by Mark (YK Kim, the writer and director of this as well), won't take any crap from any gang, and are ready to fight them.  Can Tae Kwon Do defeat Ninjitsu?

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I never want to be That Guy, but going into the last 15 minutes, this wasn't holding up with some of the best so-bad-it's-good greats.  It had too many slow points, and a lot of weirdness that was more weird than funny.  This was in sharp contrast to the awesome opening, which had me all the more disappointed.  That's when it kicked into high gear for the finale, delivering what I came for and pulling me out of that That Guy hole.  For me, I think this is harder to take as a solo mission.  It's like The Room, where there aren't as many fist-pump moments as say a Strike Commando, but so many silly moments that you need people there helping you make fun of it.  It's also much betting in gif or video clip form, where the best parts given to you in small bites.  The action and martial arts are a lot of fun, and I think if there were more of that and less silliness/weirdness/make-me-uncomfortableness in between, it would've been in that Strike Commando category.  As it is, I think it's a solid bad movie night fun time.

In the past, I've had to explain to people that my blog title, The Direct to Video Connoisseur, is a joke.  It's supposed to evoke images of me as an Alistair Cooke in Masterpiece Theater, partaking in a Dolph Lundgren film in an ascot and smoking jacket.  But as we've gone on, I've seen more and more of these movies, and so the things that people latch onto with something like this is old hat by this point.  And sometimes that's enough, but sometimes it isn't.  I've seen the bad dialog.  I've seen the severed limbs.  I've seen the ninjas doing silly stuff.  And so to get to that "cheese classic" level, it needs more, and that more needs to be more funny than weird, which isn't exactly what we got here.  Near the end it was amazing, but, I mean, this is not a Deadly Prey or something, and I think people coming to this with that kind of background will think "that was a lot of fun, but have you seen...?"

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There were some really weird scenes in this, including the one I posted here.  YK Kim is walking around to his buddies and shoving grapes in their mouths.  It's not like a spur of the moment thing, where he's sitting at the table and just shoves a pile into one guy's mouth.  He gets up and goes to each one individually and systematically.  There were other weird elements, like when one of the guys finds his father, and Kim grabbing the letter from the father and keeping it as they celebrate.  It's like "Geez Kim, does everything have to be about you?  Give the guy his letter back!"  And then there's Kim sparring with his friends and shoving his feet in their faces.  He was rubbing them in there, then grabbing their noses with his toes.  All of it together is great fodder for a bad movie night kind of thing, where those elements carry over to other scenes and you and your friends can mock it.  It's not as good by myself when I say out loud "All right guys, let's celebrate with me shoving grapes in your mouths" after the one gets his letter from his father.

One thing we've seen a lot of on here is omnipotent ninjas.  They can take out anything.  Well, after over six years of looking, we at the DTVC have finally found their nemesis: the Tae Kwon Do master.  The ninja is no match for Tae Kwon Do.  How did we not know this?  And it was solved back in 1987, yet we're still seeing seemingly omnipotent ninjas in modern movies.  Maybe that's why this film had so much trouble finding a distributor: it unlocked the secret to the all-powerful ninja.  I can't watch a Sho Kosugi film again without thinking of Baek from Tekken Tag kicking his ass.  Or YK Kim.  But that begs the question: what beats Tae Kwon Do?  I say wrestling, because the Kings could crush Baek in Tekken Tag.

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With the current Sharknado craze, it's interesting to look at that kind of purposeful B-movie, versus something like this that, while Kim may have had a similar Tommy Wiseau-style need to aggrandize himself, was meant to be a good movie and was really made in earnest.  On the one hand, we like the unintentional bad movie, because the intentional one is done well so infrequently; but on the other, a bad movie is a bad movie, and this one has a lot of scenes that are just bad, not funny bad.  Again, I think movies like Miami Connection should be tackled in groups, not alone, and that often mitigates the moments that are just bad and not funny bad.

While this is available on Instant, it's worth looking at.  You can also get it on DVD and Blu-Ray on Amazon.  My caution, especially if you're one who has done his or her share of D-grade Italian flicks or Godfrey Ho ninja schlockfests, is to attack this in a group.  At the very least, it makes for a really fun bad movie night.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092549/

4 comments:

  1. Nice write-up! Loved this movie (Review coming soon)

    The songs were super catchy too. "Against The Ninja!...Tae Kwon Do!"

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  2. For the most part, I'm in agreement. I think Miami Connection got a lot of attention on account of the production's backstory and the Drafthouse release. It's earnest, it's fun, it's goofy, but as you've said, probably best enjoyed with a crowd. I was lucky enough to catch this in Boston during the theater run and even with a thinner crowd on a Sunday night, it was a great experience.

    The weird scenes didn't rub me quite as raw, and I loved the cantankerous behavior of the Jeff character. The elements definitely added up for me. That said, it was probably a tier below the gold standards of pure action cheese like The Stabilizer or Parole Violators. However, I do think it's important to support movies like Miami Connection. How many low-budget 1980s action films get releases like this one got? Few. How many more are likely to get releases in the future if this is a complete flop for Drafthouse? A lot fewer. The group of films that this falls into is filled with stuff we'd love to see with proper releases. I feel it's a great opportunity for the community of film fans who love these kinds of movies and want to see more of them, to vote with their wallets.

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    1. That's awesome that you got to see this in the theater! You bring up a great point about a film's availability, and this will make an interesting test case. As much as there's a community that enjoys a movie like this, there's also a large subset in that community that only want these things on rare, out-of-print VHS, and shun greater availability. On that score I think you're right, that we should either buy these movies, or at the very least add them to out Netflix Instant Queue when they're available on there, to show that there is a market for them.

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