Unlike its spiritual predecessor, Mystery Science Theater 300, Rifftrax does its comedic riffing against a number of big budget franchises, like Transformers, Harry Potter, Avengers, etc. Now, without looking too deeply into it, I suspect that their theatrical performances, when they go into big (or at least bigger) budget territory, it’s for movies that flopped—and that they can get the rights to without eating up all potential profits. Last year’s Godzilla and Anaconda, for example.
What I note about these, however, is that I don’t like them nearly as much as when the thing being lampooned was a sincerely meant effort to achieve something other than filling a slot on SyFy. So, after Sharknado 2, it was great to see The Miami Connection: An ’80s era martial-arts rock-band drug-war movie full of heart and ridiculousness.
Now, we should note that these theatrical shows start with an educational film, and these are usually the highlight of the evening. Educational stuff is just so ripe for riffing, and Measurement Man is just a wonder of awkward filmmaking clearly geared toward giving apathetic teachers a smoke break. You see fewer crotch shots in porn, frankly.
But Miami Connection is marvellous in its lack of awareness. The toughs seem to stand around yelling a lot without actually doing anything. They patiently wait their turn to attack the good guys. And the battles all look like not well-rehearsed martial arts demonstrations. (Because that’s what they are: The star, writer, and re-shoot director was a well-known Tae Kwon Do teacher in the area.)
As a black belt in that particular time period, I kept thinking, “Oh, my God. Is that what we looked like?” Then I remembered that, no, we moved a lot faster and actually hit each other. (Also, we didn’t do the goofy Tae Kwon Do thing where you stand on one leg and just keep kicking over and over again.)
Our heroes sing songs about being anti-ninja. They all live together in a tiny apartment and seldom wear shirts. One has a backstory about a missing dad. There’s probably an anti-drug message in there somewhere, but to be honest, that whole thread disappears after the opening scene, along with all the guns.
For a low budget movie, it has a huge cast, with dozens of locals filling in as various gangs. The sounds is badly overdubbed—but clearly and loudly overdubbed, which is way better than what you often get in these films.
It’s just the perfect level of lunacy for a riffing. We loved it.