Miami Connection Blu-Ray Review (Robert Harding)

Miami Connection

Miami Connection Blu-Ray

Starring Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch and Joseph Diamand

Directed by Y.K. Kim, Woo-sang Park

When you think of B-grade action films from the 80s you might conjure up visuals of martial arts, big hair, uzis, large mustaches, gangs, and ninjas. With Miami Connection you get all that and more within the first 5 minutes! This practically never before seen film from 1987 is the masterpiece of Y.K. Kim who not only stars in the film but wrote, produced, financed, cast and even directed.

Miami Connection tells the story of a group of Tae Kwon Do musicians called Dragon Sound who end up crossing paths with a group of local drug dealing punks. It’s not a very friendly get together and things quickly get ugly… for the punks! But when the punks enlist the help of biker ninjas, the fights turns out to be more than Dragon Sound expected.

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While this is a Blu-ray release, don’t expect pristine visuals and audio. The disc opens with a message stating that “Miami Connection was almost lost when a hurricane destroyed the film’s original negative in 2004. Our transfer was assembled from the best existing materials and scanned at 2K resolution. Due to the nature of the available elements, some imperfections and inconsistencies may occur.” While there is no fault in the transfer of the film, the film is full of print damage.  There has been no restoration done and while that is a little disappointing, one might say it adds a bit of an “authentic feel” to the presentation.

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The story behind Miami Connection from how it came about, to how it disappeared, to how it was eventually found again is almost as interesting as the film itself and is documented in a small booklet insert. Other extras include “Friends for Eternity: The Making of Miami Connection” which runs about 20 minutes long  and is less a making of and more a retrospective consisting mostly of interviews with cast and crew some 20 years after the fact. There’s an “Alternate Ending” which running a little over two minutes is actually the original ending which was later re-shot when Y.K. Kim couldn’t find anyone who liked the movie. There are a bunch of “Deleted Scenes” running a total of just under 12 minutes. “Dragon Sound Reunion Concert from Fantastic Fest 2012” is 10 minutes of footage shot at Fantastic Fest of the actors on stage blended with film footage as Dragon Sound perform a 6+ minute version of “Friends” followed by “Against the Ninja.” Running about two minutes long   “Who is Y.K. Kim?”  is a cute little piece that gives some background about Mr. Kim through what must be an introduction video used at seminars Y.K. Kim puts on before he comes on stage. “The New American Dream” is over 22 minutes long and is an infomercial for Y.K. Kim’s “The New American Dream” program.  The main extra is the audio commentary by Y.K. Kim and Joe Diamand mediated by Drafthouse Cinema programmer Zack Carlson. It is mostly Mr. Carlson doing a screen specific interview as he tries to get the two guys talking. Rounding out the extras are trailers for The Ambassador, Bullhead, Klown, Wake in Fright, the Drafthouse Alliance Stinger, and the 2012 trailer for Miami Connection, a reversible cover for the Blu-ray, and a digital download of the film.

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Y.K. Kim first set out when making this film to promote his philosophy and physical ability.  Despite the poor acting (most actors in the film were simply friends of Y.K. Kim), low budget, and clear lack of filmmaking talent (Y.K. Kim had almost zero encounters with movies prior to taking on many of the aspects of the film), Miami Connection clearly drives home the ideas of friendship, perseverance and positive attitude. It’s especially obvious in the theme song “Friends” with its catchy chorus.  Though not intentionally comical, those involved in the film seem to have come to embrace the fan reaction of this film who clearly enjoy it as a piece of b-movie schlock full of camp, and fun filled sequences. The film as a whole plays out as a very entertaining advertisement for Tae Kwon Do just as Mr. Kim intended. Except that, upon viewing it, Y.K. Kim noticed that it was extremely violent which was in contrast to his martial arts teachings. So, in perfect b-movie fashion, in order to rectify this over abundance of violence he added a simple sentence to the end of the film (as if a few words would correct the 80 previous minutes), “Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace.” An almost perfect ending to this SoBIG (so bad it’s good) martial arts extravaganza.

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