Y.K. Kim hacks his way through the bizarrely enjoyable Miami Connection.
MIAMI CONNECTION (Y.M. Kim, Woo-sang Park). 83 minutes. Opens Friday (March 29) at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Miami Connection isn't so much a bad movie, or even a "so-bad-it's-good" movie, as an utter misfit. Released in a few theatres in Orlando in 1988, the feel-good martial arts actioner fizzled and retreated underground, where it was rediscovered in 2009 and repackaged as a salvaged cult artifact.
The Warriors meets The Karate Kid in this star vehicle devised for Korean-American tae kwon do grandmaster Y.K. Kim (who also produced), which centres on a group of college-age orphans who fight crime with martial arts. Oh, and they're also members of a synth rock band called Dragon Sound. Armed with tae kwon do proficiency and undying friendship, Dragon Sound set about cleaning up Orlando's clownish criminal underworld.
The acting is stilted, the dialogue laughable ("You don't scare me at all! Goodbye!" Kim shouts at a bearded baddie) and the direction utterly confounding, e.g., a way overlong training scene unfolding on a campus quad.
But it's also bizarrely entertaining. For one, Dragon Sound's music is actually pretty good in a Miami Sound Machine-Stan Bush mashup way. And like the best schlocky movies, it has more than enough heart to make up for its dimness. With its theme of fellowship and the earnestness of its construction (however bungling), it's hard not to feel for Miami Connection - even if you're feeling embarrassed for it.