Insincerity destroys art.
Fortunately, there is Miami Connection.
The film is an 80s action gem about a rock band called Dragon Sound, whose members use their taekwondo skills to fight drug-dealing motorcycle ninjas. If, for some weird and disturbing reason, that last sentence hasn’t caused you to jump out of your seat and look for the nearest screening, then continue reading while I break it down for you.
The legend of the film’s revival is that Zack Carlson, programmer at the Alamo Drafthouse, purchased the movie for $50 on ebay as a blind buy. After the first screening at one of the theater’s Weird Wednesday events, they knew they had their hands on something special. They quickly tracked down the film’s creators to discuss a re-release, and used Austin’s Fantastic Fest as a launching pad.
I was lucky enough to catch a screening at the Roxie here in SF; the theater only had about 20 people in it but there was enthusiasm abound (I highly recommend a few beers before, or during, the screening). The film was introduced by a motivational short about star/producer/writer YK Kim and his wide range of successes: a prelude of awesome.
The opening scene treats us to a Miami cocaine deal gone bad. Ninjas, dozens perhaps, emerge from the shadows to slice limbs and steal blow. Soon, the audience is subjected to extended sequences of synth-rock concerts and poorly improvised, but passionately delivered, dialogue.
There are some really great and terrible moments in the movie’s narrative. I went into this experience with little knowledge of what lay ahead; I recommend others do the same. It’s not as if there are plenty of twists and turns, there is just something very magical about watching the poorly strung together plot unfold. If you have seen a few b-level action movies, then you have some idea what to expect for the tone.
From a production standpoint there are many terrible things to appreciate: the constant breaking of the 180 degree rule, poor sound sync, an entire scene of dialogue taking place over an establishing shot, the list goes on. Sure, in the hands of an experienced director these elements can be used as artful devices, but here, they are contributing elements to the comedic, b-movie aura that is an absolute delight. You really get the feeling that YK Kim thought he was making the coolest action movie ever, that it was going to kick ass on an inspirational level. And you know what? It does.
For all of the things this movie does wrong, it still manages to be better than most Hollywood action movies. I don’t want your flashy special effects, your slow motion, or your fast cutting. I just want dudes getting karate kicked (or taekwondo kicked), limbs getting chopped, motorcycles, explosions, babes, and rock. And quit trying to make everything sleek and sexy! Sleek and sexy is boring, I want raw and awesome, I want a rowdy party instead of a classy nightclub, I want an action movie that feels like it was made by fans instead of made by marketers.