I can just hear the pitch for Miami Heat now, “Iz like Taken but with Russian accent. And with hero who iz twice as big and half as talented as Liam Neeson .” Sounds like the makings of some enjoyable cheese, right? Right?
Yuri (Oleg Prudius, WWE’s Vladimir Kozlov) is a former Spetsnaz agent who now builds performance cars in Miami. That and be overprotective of his college-age daughter Julia (Gabriela Wong). She’s still an innocent young girl, the fact she changes boyfriends more often than her underwear and poses for photos doing very suggestive things with a candy cane doesn’t change that, right?
When she fails to call him on her lunch break he goes looking for her, even using Find My Phone to track her down.
OK, we are twenty minutes into Miami Heat and I’ve been creeped out more than I have been by nine out of ten horror movies. Why? Because this is one of the most dysfunctional father/daughter relationships this side of PornHub. She video chats with him in her nightie before bed, and when she doesn’t call on her lunch break he flips out like an abusive boyfriend. First turning up at the club where she works looking for her, then tracking her phone. Is he her father or her Daddy?
Of course, since he’s the hero it’s completely justified and he finds out she’s been abducted by human traffickers led by Charles Broussard (Oscar Corbella, Burn Notice). This leads to several laughably bad fights with conveniently unarmed goons before he gets knocked out and tossed in the ocean. I’d have used the shotgun they hit him with to make sure he was dead, but that would make too much sense. And make Miami Heat a short film, not that that would be a bad thing.
As a wrestler Prudius was passable, as an actor he’s horrible. There’s a reason his IMDB page lists mostly uncredited roles. Yes, he’s big and scary looking, but he has no charisma and fights like he’s still in the WWE. I kept waiting for him to face off against Broussard’s enforcer Oliver, played by 7’2” monster Olivier Richters, who you might remember as the psycho warehouse worker in Ravers.
Instead, we get to see him go up against a bunch of guys half his size while teaming up with a friendly hacker Luis (Luis da Silva Jr, The Fanatic, Kickboxer: Vengeance) and his ex-wife Max (Shannon Murray, Rag Doll, The Colors of Hell) who just happens to be a skilled mercenary. With parents like that you would think one of them would have taught Julia self-defence.
With two writers, Derek Garrison and Andrej Kukoljac, as well as two directors, Zack Matthews and Fabio W. Silva, you would think somebody might have gotten something right. But Miami Heat just bounces from one cringe-worthy scene to the next. None of the human interactions feel remotely real, with Julia and her father’s being the worst.
I give Miami Heat credit for wanting to bring back 80s style action heroes like Last Man Down did, but the filmmakers totally blew it. The action scenes are so poorly shot and edited they don’t have any excitement to them at all. How bad are they? To avoid giving away the fact the leads aren’t in the cars most of the film’s car chase is shot at wheel level.
And if your hero is a real-life Hulk, you need a few big guys for him to fight. Miami Heat has one, and that fight is over in about three minutes, including a cut away to Julia being stuffed into an SUV. It couldn’t even get that right. Miami Heat had the potential to be an enjoyable DTV time-waster or even the kind of mess that’s entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Instead, it’s just bad, real bad.
Miami Heat is available on digital platforms via the Kaczmarek Digital Media Group, you can check their Facebook page for more information.