Here is a transcript of Adam J Marsh’s introduction to the delightful Miami Connection from this past weekend 29th & 30th June 2015.
Welcome to tonight’s Fringe Cinema screening. It has been a little while since our last official screening of Teen Wolf in February but we’re back tonight with Miami Connection. What we are trying to do with the Fringe Cinema strand is to provide a place for films that don’t sit well with our general programme but also don’t fit in with our Fright Club or Satori Screen strands. So we’re looking at things like cult classics like Hell Comes To Frogtown and Polyester, ‘genuine’ classics like Repo Man, fun pictures like Teen Wolf, docs like Not Quite Hollywood or so bad they’re essential films like Howard The Duck or indeed tonight’s film.
I suppose there are two origins to the story of Miami Connection. It’s birth and it’s rebirth.
Originally released in September 1988, the film was the product of Y K Kim or Grandmaster Y K Kim who was approached by director Richard Park after he was seen on a talk show, talking about his involvement in the world of Martial Arts. By 1988, there had been a boom in exploitation filmmaking brought about by the straight to video market and Martial Arts films were hot.
Chuck Norris (6 time karate World Champion) had made the transition to acting with a whole range of films including The Missing In Action series, The Octagon, Delta Force. Jean Claude Van Damme had graduated from villain in No Retreat No Surrender to lead hero in Blood Sport in 1988. Michael Dudikoff was hacking and slicing his way through American Ninja films and Cynthia Rothrock was making a name for herself with No Retreat No Surrender 2 and the various forgettable titled films like Fight To Win, Rapid Fire, Jungle Heat, Above The Law 2.
The ponytailed lethal weapon Steven Seagal started his career in 1988 with Above The Law released in the UK as Nico. Who knows in a parallel universe it is Grandmaster Y K Kim who caught the imagination of the public and it was Seagal who languished into obscurity.
Miami Connection managed to raise a budget of close to $1 million dollars after Kim borrowed from friends, took out loads, used all his savings and mortgaged his Martial Arts school to produce his opus. Director Richard Park, who is not to be forgotten in this saga, was a Korean director who had a long career stretching back to early 70s directing films in South Korea. In the mid to late 80s he started directing South Korean / US co-productions with LA Streetfighters, Miami Connection and Gang Justice. He also directed Chinatown 2. Sadly not a martial arts follow up to the Roman Polanski/Jack Nicholson classic.
But the real driving creative force behind Miami Connection is YK Kim, who starred, wrote and produced the film. Once completed Kim shopped the film around but had little take up. Kim himself says “They all said, This Is Trash. Don’t waste your time!” But he persevered and a small distribution company bought the rights for $100,000 dollars and opened the film in 8 theatres in and around Orlando.
The reviews were unanimous summed up by The Orlando Sentinal “The Worst Film Of 1988”.
1988 is a year that saw Rambo III, Licence To Drive, Arthur 2 On The Rocks all completely terrible and lacking in half the imagination of Miami Connection. Hell it isn’t even the worst film from 1988 with Miami in the title. That honour goes to Police Academy 5 : Assignment Miami Beach!
After three weeks it was gone from cinemas and Kim was battling bankruptcy.
And so onto the rebirth. In 2009, a programmer from the Alamo Drafthouse bought a 35mm print off Ebay and won it for $50 (about £35). He had no clue whether it was any good. They played it during one of their exploitation series and it took off. The bad dialogue, the special effects and the staged ninja fight all with a glorious late 80s synth soundtrack all struck a chord with 21st Century audience. The film is now available on Bluray in High Definition and is screening here from a HD digital film print. Let that sink in for a minute. A HD Digital film print…Of Miami Connection.
I like to think that 80s audiences just weren’t ready for Miami Connection and it is only through the passage of years, that we as a species have evolved to the state where we can enjoy Miami Connection but then I think Motorcycle Ninjas have always been and will always be cool!
Next up on The Fringes is a more mainstream choice than Miami Connection and is a Steven Spielberg film! DUEL will screen in August!