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RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Image Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 87 Minutes
● Friends For Eternity: The Making of Miami Connection
● Audio Commentary with Star/Writer/Producer Y.K. Kim and Writer/Star Joseph Diamand
● Over 20 Minutes of Deleted Scenes
● The 25th Anniversary Dragon Sound Reunion Concert From Fantastic Fest 2012
● Theatrical Trailer created by Hobo with a Shotgun director Jason Eisener
● Who Is Y.K. Kim? Promo Video
● The New American Dream Promo Video
● Theatrical Trailers
A local strip-mall karate class of children decided to make their own movie about a martial arts rockband who are besties and live in the same house and need to fight motorcycle ninjas and jerks. Only these children are all adults. And most of them can’t really play instruments.
Actors: Y.K. Kim, Vincent Hirsch, Joseph Diamand, Maurice Smith
Directors: Y.K. Kim, Woo-Sang Park
Miami Connection is everything a so-bad-its-great classic needs to be — that unforcible blend of just-enough-competency, big ideas, bad ideas, over earnestness and above all else, complete and total oblivious sincerity.
Renn recently laid down the lowdown on Miami Connection as thoroughly as this odd gem deserves, so I won’t retread. Let’s get on to the Blu Ray…
It has been interesting tracking the film’s progress with viewers since the film burst onto the scene first at Everything Is Festival III in August and then in a bigger way at Fantastic Fest in September. If my Facebook feed can serve as a microcosm, the general early reaction to the film’s existence has been “But does it actually deliver?” This is not the usual reaction a film from the 80s that is being hailed as bad tends to get. But when Drafthouse Films decided to give the film a limited theatrical release and put their muscle behind hyping it as a lost and now instant beloved crapsterpiece (the Dragon Sound reunion was the centerpiece of FF2012), the company put itself in a somewhat suspect position. Drafthouse isn’t releasing a so-bad-its-good midnight movie cult classic. They’re trying to create a cult around the film. And quickly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little dubious at first myself. Not so much of Miami Connection, but of the whole endeavor. In the modern Internet era the whole concept of a “cult film” has changed and somewhat lost its meaning. Now it is so easy for fans to find each other, that really anything can be considered “cult.” At times it seems like the word has become an adjective used to describe a type of film more so than to describe its fanbase; a PR tool sometimes even tossed out there mere months after a film’s release. Point being, it struck me that Miami Connection was being forced upon us all as our new favorite cult film, as though it were the newest corporately constructed tweener popstar, and that it was getting this special treatment not because of fans or the film, but because Drafthouse was in the position of having re-discovered it. Then I saw the film. Drafthouse has got the goods. The film is everything it purports to be. It is just so perfectly wrong in so many right ways and bursting with a bizarre warmth. It is kind of a joyous expression of outsider art.
Like any “midnight movie,” Miami Connection is best viewed with as many other people as possible. You know that drill. But given that so much of the film’s appeal is its back story and the real-life presence of its eccentric mastermind, Y.K. Kim, a feature-loaded Blu ray is almost necessary if you aren’t seeing it at a film festival with Dragon Sound present. Drafthouse clearly gets this. Seeing Miami Connection on its own is a hilarious ride. But there are an endless number of hilariously misguided films out there. Getting the Y.K. Kim context is what makes the film special. The man is all about his own brand of positivity, which explains the film’s charmingly innocent homo-eroticism, childlike intensity, and at times uncomfortable arrested development. There is almost a Spongebob aspect to Kim in the film (and real life). I mean, how old is his character supposed to be? Why do all the guys live in a house with him? Why did he write a movie about a band for himself and his dojo students to star in when none of them could play instruments? Why does he like to touch his friends’ faces with his feet?
The Blu is lovely. As with any “lost” film, hearing the actors talk about its re-discovery is entertaining and somewhat moving (for Kim himself the film had been a painful memory of failure that he had tried to forget). But the crown jewel of the package is the footage on Dragon Sound’s reunion/first-ever concert at Fantastic Fest, where the band needed to be padded with ringers who could actually play while most of the cast mimed their way through, and then, of course, Y.K. Kim kicks an apple off a knife for some reason during a musical interlude. Cause that’s how Y.K. Kim rolls. Part of what I really enjoy about Y.K. Kim, at least as presented here, is that even though he seems slightly deranged in his own way, I am happy for him and the pleasure he is so very obviously getting from this sudden Miami Connection attention. He gets it. He’s laughing with us — something I can’t say for the fascinating yet eternally creepy Tommy Wiseau (creator of The Room). And his former students, who got roped into this bizarre adventure, all clearly adore him. Maurice Smith, with his insane storyline involving his absentee father, is the funniest part of the film, and the most enjoyable person to get reactions from now. Smith clearly can’t understand why anyone would want to watch the film, but digs that we all do. Whereas Best Worst Movie documented an assortment of weirdos, with mostly not-so-great memories of working on their film, the members of Dragon Sound kind of were Dragon Sound in real-life to a certain extent, and none of them wanted to be actors. Listening to them talk about making the film is like listening to people recount a zany camping trip they all got talked into by Kim decades ago.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars