Directed by Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park
Playing at the Charles 7 p.m. July 8 and 9 p.m. July 11
If there was a lab that tirelessly dedicated itself to creating the quintessential '80s movie, complete with mullets, mustaches, synth pop, gigantic computers with tiny screens, and lots and lots of ninjas, it would be a terrible waste of scientific resources, but the lab might come up with something like Miami Connection. It's hard to remember when ninjas seemed genuinely cool and/or threatening, but there definitely was a time: In my 1985 fifth grade class, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up; at least five kids answered "ninja."
The plot here, ripped from daily life in the '80s, pits a squadron of cocaine-trafficking biker-ninjas against a synth band called Dragon Sound, made up of orphaned Taekwondo experts. Kicking up the drama: A leader of the biker-ninja contingent has a sister who is the lead singer of Dragon Sound! All of this is played straight, without a hint of irony and kitsch. Perhaps that explains why the film has become something of a cult classic.
Needless to say, everything about this movie is terrible. The acting is laughable, the fight sequences are absurd, the dubbing is atrocious, the script could have been written by one of those hopeful 1985 ninja-classmates, the "special effects" are hilarious, and the music sequences are painful and endless. Perhaps worst of all is the editing, which allows lots of the scenes to be ridiculously drawn out, as if the editor would be penalized for wasting any of the celluloid used in production.
There's a bit of subjectivity to the appreciation of so-bad-they're-good movies, a category fans seem to think includes Miami Connection. To some, the quotient for badness is bottomless, but for me, there are movies that are so genuinely bad that they're just irredeemably . . . bad, and I place Miami Connection there. It recalls a genuine '80s classic, John Carpenter's They Live, which also had terrible dialogue and haircuts, and hilarious fight sequences. But They Live had a genuine, if kitschy, plot line (aliens among us!) and certain winks that let us know the filmmaker was in on the joke (lines like "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum," for example). There's nothing quite that awesome here. Which is not to say Miami Connection is not fun. But if you go, we recommend getting drunk in advance. Very drunk.