Pajiba loves movies, obviously. As a community and a collection of writers, we tend to have generally similar tastes and that taste is fairly broad. We all have our favorite genres and actors, but it’s safe to say we’re passionate about the subject in total. It’s that passion that drives us back here every week, every day, and sometimes every hour. Passion, no doubt, is also what moves us to love the films we love no matter how flawed (see: The Hunger Games) and a lack of it is what moves us to loathe the ones we loathe (see: Michael Bay’s ouevre). For movies of a certain quality — that is to say, with a dearth of talent and money — an obvious devotion to the material can often save an utter trainwreck from itself, or at least make that trainwreck more enjoyable. No matter how objectively awful, affection for trash isn’t ironic if you truly, deeply find joy in a thing.
No doubt this explains a lot of the social media interest in Syfy’s recent schlockbuster, Sharknado, despite its moderately disappointing ratings. It’s fun to watch people with no ability try to achieve something beyond their reach, even knowing if they’re only doing it for a paycheck and some digital ink. They want to make a movie, and damn it, they’re going to, whether highbrow snobs like it or not. This is especially true when the filmmakers are trying to make, well, a passion project. Manos: The Hands of Fate is notoriously awful, clearly made by someone who had no clue what they were doing; likewise, Troll 2’s attempts at social commentary-vis-a-vis-horror are basically overshadowed by the incompetent lunacy on display. Manos and Troll 2 benefit a great deal from the MST3K or Rifftrax treatment (or both — fingers crossed they do Sharknado next), but with plenty of lubricant can be enjoyed sans commentary, too. But it takes a truly special bad movie to please entirely on its own fantastically dreadful merits.
Enter: Miami Connection.
Much of that aforementioned digital ink has already been spilled for the sake of the late-80s taekwondo action movie-meets-after school special. Suffice to say, it went almost completely unheralded upon its initial, spectacularly limited theatrical release and has only found an appreciateive cult audience in the past year after Drafthouse Films rediscovered it. Yes, those same aficionados who run the best movie theater chain in the continental United States, the Alamo Drafthouse, are also now responsible for bringing to the masses the one and only martials film starring, by way of an Orlando dojo, Korean grandmaster Y.K. Kim. It’s Mr. Kim’s passion, his desire to spread that message that “taekwondo is life,” and earnest cluelessness that make the movie so infectious, almost inspiring in its mere existence.
There’s no reason to discuss the plot, because there isn’t one. At least, not one that makes any logical sense. But, boy, did they try. It’s all just an excuse for poorly shot, haphazardly choreographed fight scenes broken up by overly literal musical interludes, some of which feature the martial arts performers “playing” the harmless pop-derived music themselves. A scholarly essay would surely ruin the experience, which can be had via streaming on Netflix, Amazon or iTunes. Instead, here’s a totally non-exhaustive list of 25 Reasons Why Miami Connection is the Best Worst Movie of All Time (So Far). Enjoy!
The main character, played by Korean Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, is named Mark and is supposed to be in college with his mostly younger karate companions. (Yes, really.)
Despite the title, the movie takes place almost entirely on the mean streets of Orlando.
(And shot in Daytona.)
The first synth-band interlude is a song not about ninjas, but about Friends (Forever).
But there’s also a song about ninjas, and it is catchy as hell.
The cast is shirtless most of the time, making this a martial arts movie that always has a little something for the ladies.
Grapes are an essential part of a healthy breakfast, especially when they’re force fed directly into your mouth by a tae kwon do master!
The movie begins with drug dealing biker ninjas in the most literalized montage ever.
And ends with those ninjas getting torn to shreds by our now AGRO heroes.
There are no other actual ninjas in the movie, but there is a nonsensical fight scene in a night club between characters we know nothing or care nothing about.
Not to mention, of course, a scene in that 80s location staple, The Gym.
The fact that our heroes are all orphans has no bearing, except as a somewhat believable reason why five grown men all live together in a tiny house?
In case that’s too homoerotic, there’s a love story for the ages. (That is, it’s sort of Romeo-and-Juliet-ish. [I guess?])
The villainous gang of ninja bikers is basically the Cobra bikers, the Dreadnoks, as ironically lead by the original G.I. Joe action doll.
Since that villain was also the brother of the female love interest, his eventual violent comeuppance is handled with surprising grace and maturity.
Speaking the G.I. Joes, there’s also a special cameo by Storm Shadow:
There’s also an interminable training sequence that proves why the montage was invented (and is perhaps why it’s impossible to find a clip of).
(Watch all FOUR MINUTES here.)
But it was really foreshadowing all along!
Jim found his father! He found his father!
And then he was dragged through swamp water after having his chest sliced open.
This man’s eyebrows.
This man’s mullet.
All these dudes’ facial hair.
As action packed as Miami Connection is, it concludes on a literal message of World Peace through inaction.
The trailer is one of the most exciting you’ll ever see.
Finally, the soundtrack really is too much fun, especially if you’re favorite part of Drive was the score.