As a quick example, this is something that happens in this movie. Again: YES, PLEASE! So I was, all, grinning and tenting my fingers like Mr. Burns in anticipation of terrorizing 'Miami Connection.' When I started watching it, though, the first thing that popped up on-screen was the Drafthouse logo. I pressed pause, mildly concerned. Drafthouse, as in Alamo Drafthouse, as in the awesome cinema in Austin that supports indie and cult filmmaking (and seriously opposes cell phone use during screenings)? I might have been on the wrong track here.
And, in fact, I was, and so are all the haters. This movie was made by this tae kwon do Grandmaster (RESPECT) who invested every penny he had and cast his students as actors in an extreme act of love for the movies. Even though the stupid thing bankrupted him, because he promised his students they'd get to be in a movie about their sport he made good on his word and fucking barebacked it into completion. Then he was deeply humiliated for like 20 years until Drafthouse gave him the warm fuzzies and snuggled the movie to positive cult status.
I watched the movie, but my evil intent had already fizzled like a deflated balloon. Sure, there was plenty of hilarity, but there was also so much goddamned heart and soul in it that I could not maintain Fully Operational Snark. By the time I got to the scene where one of the orphaned tae kwon do students was bawling his eyes out because of his lost father, I was, like:
Guys, I cannot shit on this movie the way you want me to. First, I would never make fun of a martial arts Grandmaster. I studied under a regular Master and I was so terrified of him that to this day I automatically bow and then snap into my ready stance whenever I see an old Korean man. Make fun of a GRAND Master? DEATH WISH 2014!? No, thanks.
Second, the guy made it his life's goal to make a movie so he and his beloved students could bring the awesome spirit of tae kwon do to the people of the world. OH, COME ON!?!
Yeah, that's what I thought you said.
So I'm going to give Grandmaster Kim his due. He doesn't get off the hook completely, because he did, after all, make an unequivocally terrible movie, and he probably should have gotten some help from some qualified professionals (as opposed to what it appears he did, which is ask the kids hanging out by the Dumpster behind the 7-11 to run production) to at least make it make sense. He DOES, though, get a big fat Get Out of Jail Free card from me as well. I'm not going to rake this bitch straight up over the coals like I would otherwise.
Instead, I'll give Grandmaster Kim the help he should have had from the jump. Every bad movie starts with a bad script, right? So why don't I go through and script doctor this thing for him, and then maybe when he uses his millions that he now has from being a popular motivational speaker to make a sequel, he'll hire me on. Sound about right?
(FYI: All script notation is from the actual script. Deal with it.)
In the beginning a bunch of drug dealers doing a drug deal are beset by a passel of ninjas:
Suddenly, with lighting (sic) speed and tremendous force the Ninja's sword dismembers the gang member's arm. Standing there, with only a stub at the shoulder where an arm used to be, the gang member screams in terror.
Uh, OK, I'm actually fine with that. Moving on:
Twelve Ninjas are in a meditative squat around a Japanease (sic) table. Yashito, the White Ninja, enters the room. Yashito walks to the head of the table, kneels down, and commences to unravel his white cloth face mask.
Where's money. Where's Money!
Yashito slams his fist on the table.
Hm. Maybe this would be just as effective:
Here it is. "Show me the money."
(pause) Show. Me. The. Money.
I got it.
Now doesn't that make you feel good
just to say it? Say it with me.
Show. Me. The. Money.
Oh - oh, wait, hang on. I guess that won't work. We'll have to stick with what we've got.
Dragon Sound plays their opening song: "FRIENDS." Jeff, Yashito and their gang members have entered the club. Jeff walks by the side of the stage. He does a double take as he recongnizes (sic) his sister, Jane, singing with Dragon Sound. Yashito comes over and points at Jane.
Jeff. Is that your sister Jane working here?
She's not supposed to be here.
I don't know what she's doing here.
Better watch her. Let's go. Come on.
So this is bad, but cannot hold a candle to the lyrics of "FRIENDS," which is a far more egregious slaughtering of the concept of 'writing,' and can be blamed solely on songwriter Lloyd C. Sharpe, not Grandmaster Kim or the mook who wrote this script.
Sample "FRIENDS" lyrics:
Friends through eternity, loyalty, honesty
We'll stay together through thick or thin
Friends forever, we'll be together
We're on top, 'cause we play to win
Now, you guys have to tell me who paid better homage to "FRIENDS." Was it noted lyricist Avril Lavigne (singing here with YOU-KNOW-WHO)?
Or was it Dirk Diggler?
I'll let you decide.
Next, we get to know some of the members of Dragon Sound, the aforementioned orphans who also attend the University of Central Florida.
John and Jane are walking together, arm in arm, down a path.
Jane, I've been wondering about your family.
Do you have any family? I haven't met anyone yet.
Well I have a brother. As a matter of fact,
if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be going to
this nice school and living in this nice dorm
I'm staying in.
That's really nice of him.
Except for one thing. I don't really like him.
What. You don't like your own brother. Why?
Well, I can't really explain it.
I just don't like him.
Finally, something I can work with! Let's clean this up:
Jane, how come I haven't met any of
your family yet?
Because they're all assholes.
Speaking of assholes, the owner of Dragon Sound's club and some guy named Bob get in a fight about the band.
I'll tell you what. Are you deaf?!
You sure don't know how to play.
Deaf my ass.
You got it? I said your (sic) history.
Your (sic) full of shit.
You want to go out of here right now?
A fight ensues.
I'm beginning to doubt my purpose here. That last bit is positively Shakespearean! Remember in Romeo & Juliet when Tybalt and Mercutio have an epic fight to the death after Mercutio basically calls Tybalt out for having a tiny dick? All Shakespeare wrote was 'They fight'! Just like this guy!
Before Dragon Sound's next gig they stop in at Uncle Song's restaurant for some kimchee.
Dragon Sound complements (sic) Uncle Song on his cooking as they hurriedly consume their meal.
Uncle Song, you take great care of us.
You'll have to give Mark the recipe to this.
You take great care of us. We love you.
Jesus, this is killing me. How can I change that dialogue? It feels like Grandmaster Kim was leaning over the writer as he furiously pounded away on his Apple IIe, begging, "Please make sure you say nice things about my uncle's cooking! He took great care of me!" GAGHGHGHGHGH!!!?!!?!!?
Hang on a sec while I troll this script for something I can actually edit.
[At the beach] Tom and Jack come up behind one foxy babe in a bikini.
Excuse me madame. May I have a little kiss,
please? A little kiss, please. Come on.
While Jack encourages the girl to give Tom a kiss, she slaps Tom so hard that he falls over.
Nope, that sounds pretty good to me. I'd slap a guy hard enough to knock his dick in the dirt if he said "Excuse me madame." And following this is a cut scene where Mark (played by Grandmaster Kim, BTW) is watching a lone surfer out in the ocean and talking to the guy who was bawling about his lost father:
Jim, sometimes I wonder who my parents are.
You know, I am from Korea. When I was a baby I was
raised in an orphanage. I don't even know my
real name and my family at all. So I hope one
day we will find your father, for he is like our family.
Don't worry. We're all friends here. One family.
Mark looks back out into the ocean. There the lone surfer continues to wait for his wave.
This is some BULL-SHIT! I thought this script was supposed to suck! It gets worse. After a super-awesome montage of Grandmaster Kim busting some crazy fucking legit tae kwon do moves with his students, they talk about doing a martial arts world tour to promote peace and unity. FUCK ME!??!!? And then, after that, the ninjas eating at Uncle Song's restaurant stiff him with the check and then gang up on him! Luckily, Uncle Song does this:
Uncle Song explodes with an inside swing kick at the head of one of the street punks and follows with a knife hand strike to the neck of another. Uncle Song delivers a side kick with the right foot. Uncle Song then lays in with a left cross to the ribs and finishes off one street punk with a precise hammer fist to the spine.
I love that every single fight move is choreographed to the hilt up in here. And when the orphans congratulate Uncle Song on kicking ass, he cautions them with the wisdom of the ancients:
Tae Kwon Do is not just kicking and punching.
Uncle Song point (sic) to his heart.
Tae Kwon Do is right here.
Uncle Song point (sic) to his head.
...and right here.
This is getting ridiculous. Am I going to have to recant this entire post? After this there's some escalation, both on a character and plot level, more well-choreographed if bizarrely executed fighting, and more loving dialogue from Grandmaster Kim to his students about their health and well-being. Whose dick do I have to suck around here to find some shit to make fun of in this script!?
The escalation rises to the point where Dragon Sound's lead singer is kidnapped and tortured by the ninja gang.
Dragon Sound kills Jane's asshole brother and frees Tom in another bonkers-ally choreographed fight. In wuxia fashion, the White Ninja vows revenge for the death of that asshole. BRING IT! This all sounds fine to me. Even this moment becomes a poetic beat during the falling action of this fourth act:
Dragon Sound is ecstatic about finding Jim's father. Mark, John, Tom, and Jack all lift Jim up onto their shoulders and begin to carry him around in celebration.
You are seriously not prepared for what happens next. After a touching scene where everyone pools their money to buy Jim a nice new suit to impress his dad at their impending reunion, the fucking ninjas cock-block Dragon Sound on their way to the airport. There's a bloodbath and Jim gets gutted by a katana!?
Now, in the movie, they punk out. No wonder everybody thought this was crap. Grandmaster Kim takes the White Ninja out after a gruesome fight, Jim gets all fixed up at the hospital and everybody loves everybody at the end. But in the script, THIS shit goes down (after pages and pages of Jim dying with agonizing slowness):
A plane begins to descend from overhead. John looks up.
Oh no. Jim (sic) father is on that plane.
The airplane is about to land on a runway close by.
John, Jim is dead.
John pauses and then, in a furious rage, he realizes what must be done: Yashito must pay for Jim's death.
We got to get them for this.
We are inside John and Mark's thoughts. Each is mentally seeking out Yashito in the Park. John is running through the woods in the Park looking for Yashito. He is carrying a sword. Dissolve to Mark running through the woods with a sword looking for Yashito. Mark is yelling.
And that's the end. Don't tell me that's not hardcore!? Now, neither of those endings are exactly in line with all the positive spiritual rhetoric about tae kwon do that's espoused throughout the script - both end in mayhem and death. But as someone who loves a fucked-up open-ended story, I gotta give this script credit for going there. I officially renounce any position I had whereby I stated that the script for 'Miami Connection' was bad! Never mind, Grandmaster Kim - I'm going to have to keep my day job!