Thursday, January 29, 2015

Miami Connection

Directed by Woo-Sang Park and Y.K. Kim and screenplay by Joseph Diamond from a story by Park and Kim, Miami Connection is the story of a group of biker-ninjas who try to take over the Miami drug trade only to get into some trouble with a martial-arts rock band who just want to create peace and good tunes. The film is simple martial arts film filled with all sorts of craziness, good-time music, and lots of ass-kicking. Starring Y.K. Kim. Miami Connection is a silly yet absolutely exciting film from Woo-Sang Park and Y.K. Kim.

Set in the world of the 1980s drug culture in South Florida, the film revolves a martial-arts rock band who are threatened by a group of gangs over a spot at a club in Orlando where things get more intense involving a vicious group of biker-ninjas who are controlling the drug trade. It’s a premise that is very simple as it has a lot of B-movie aesthetics and storylines where it isn’t much about plot or big ideas though there is a message about the need for world peace. Yet, it is told with a sense of style as it plays into five guys who are college students by day and a rock band by night as they deal with a bunch of bad guys who want to bring drugs into Orlando from the drug-induced world that is Miami. While there are subplots involving one of the band members trying to find his long-lost father and another who is in a relationship with the group’s female singer as her brother is the second-in-command in this secret group of biker-ninjas. It all comes together as it involves some very bloody fights as well as this intense climax.

The film’s direction by Woo-Sang Park, with additional re-shoots by Y.K. Kim, definitely plays to a lot of the visual aesthetics of 1980s B-movie in terms of action and fight scenes along with moments of humor. While some of the dramatic moments in the film kind of comes across as cheesy, it does play into something that is unintentionally funny at times. However, it doesn’t deter into what the film wants to say as Park is shooting the film on location in Orlando, Miami, and other places in South Florida with its use of wide shots and medium shots. With the help of choreographer Yeong-Mun Kwon, the fight and action scenes definitely have a sense of rhythm and power in terms of the impact of the fights where there’s elements of gore that occurs. All of which leads into a bloody climax between the members of the band Dragon Sound and this mysterious group of biker ninjas. Overall, Park and Kim create a very engaging and action-packed film about a bunch of martial arts musicians who take down some bad guys.

Cinematographer/editor Maximo Munzi does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography, despite its low-grade film stock, to capture some of the stylish elements for the scenes at night while using some stylish slow-motion and fast-paced rhythmic cuts for the film‘s action scenes. The sound work of Raymond Vasquez is superb for the sound effects that are created as well as the sound of the crowds in the club scenes. The film’s music/special makeup effects by Jon McCallum is fantastic from design of the severed limbs and blood spurts in the film while the music is largely electronic-based to play into the world of Miami dance music. The original songs by Lloyd C. Sharpe are very cheesy in its 80s synth-rock sound with some very lame but earnest songs about friendship and martial arts though they are quite catchy.

The film’s amazing cast includes some notable small roles from William Ergle as the biker-ninja gang’s second-in-command Jeff, William P. Young as the club owner, Woo-sang Park as a restaurant owner the band hangs out at, John F. Escobar as a Miami drug dealer in the film’s opening scene, Jack McLaughlin as a old rock band leader who despises Dragon Sound, and Siyung Jo as the biker-ninja gang leader Yoshita. Angelo Janotti is terrific as Dragon Sound’s singer/lead guitarist Tom who is the musician of the band while screenwriter Joseph Diamond is superb as the band’s drummer Jack who knows some tae kwon do to help his boys.

Kathie Collier is fantastic as Jeff’s younger sister Kathie who disapproves of her brother’s criminal activities as she is also a singer in Dragon Sound as well as dating the band’s bass player John. Maurice Smith is pretty good as the band’s keyboard player Jim who is searching for his long-lost father as he doesn’t exactly sell his big emotional moment. Vincent Hirsch is excellent as John as a straight-laced young man that likes to play bass and be with Kathie while can also kick ass. Finally, there’s Y.K. Kim in a dazzling performance as the Dragon Sound guitarist Mark as it’s a performance that is quite silly since Kim can barely speak English while he’s miming the guitar yet makes up for it with his ability to kick ass in the most fearsome way.

Miami Connection is an extremely ridiculous and absolutely awesome film Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park. While it’s not the kind of film that will change the world or anything, it is a film that manages to be thoroughly entertaining with everything martial arts films always have to offer. Even as it’s not afraid to play up its B-movie aesthetic as it’s perfect fodder for late-night movies where one can sit back, relax, and enjoy. In the end, Miami Connection is a phenomenal film from Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park.

© thevoid99 2015

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