BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
The odds of being remembered were never in Band of the Hand’s favor. Most people only recall the explicit violence and the pop-minded title song that Dylan wrote and performed with The Heartbreakers. I guess the odds never really mattered anyway as they were probably thrown out the window along with logic when the film was being written. Yet, here we are, at the beginning of 2017 writing about Mill Creek Entertainment’s blu-ray release of a b-movie that attempted to clean up the drug-ravaged streets of Miami for good.
Consider it an extension of Miami Vice. It has the same clichés, the same style of dress, the same rock n roll swagger, and the same ideas kicking about its neon-soaked skull. It just doesn’t have the star power.
Former Starsky and Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser (The Running Man) directed this pseudo-morality tale about a group of misbehaving youths reformed by America’s top-notch penal system. After getting in trouble in prison – Ruben Pacecho (Michael Carmine), Roosevelt (Leon Robinson), Carlos Aragon (Danny Quinn), James Lee "J.L." MacEwen (John Cameron Mitchell), and Dorcey Bridger (Al Shannon) – are rounded up one bright and sunny day, taken to the swampy everglades on airboats, and dropped off.
It doesn’t take very long for the panic to set in. One sits in silence as the rest go to town with accusations on why they are responsible for this dilemma. Already at each other’s throats, Band of the Hand teases with the figure that unites these gutter punks and turns them into credible machine gun toting vigilantes. You see, the group of squabbling young men has no idea that they have been selected for an intense survival and reformation program led by a wild-eyed Vietnam veteran named "Indian Joe" Tegra (Stephen Lang). They soon will, though, and chances are good they won’t like it one bit.
Much of Band of the Hand doesn’t fit neatly into a tiny box. This is one grand idea that flails about all over the place. You name it and it's in it. Produced by Michael Mann, this Miami Vice rip is more of a feel-good revenge story than anything else. With all the cocaine that surrounds these guys, the only thing that keeps their training in place – when they return to the wild of the neon-blazing streets – is their balls-to-the-wall trial by fire training AND their love for automatic weapons.
The rest – this includes Lang – can go straight to hell.
With enough friendly zingers to fill the pages of four yearbooks with, Band of the Hand never really accepts reality. Why would it when it is having far too much fun blowing criminals away in b-movie land? It fabulously defies good taste with a violent opening that showcases just how bizarre and dangerous every single member in this group of violent offenders are. Two are rival gang leaders who are arrested after a turf war – complete with multiple stabbings and what appears to be a dance contest in the distance – and another simply offed his abusive father. Others are drug-fiends and common cat burglars. Regardless of their differences, state officials want them to help out law officers wrangle suspicious activity and then get the fuck out of the way.
It is the getting out of the way that always trips this group up and, when the local drug baron known as Cream (Laurence Fishburne) pisses them off, they wipe the town with his ass.
Unintentionally funny (just like the television show it rips from), Band of the Hand is truly amusing late-night fodder when life has you down in the dumps and all it needs is the dumbest of things to make you laugh. That’s when you will high-five Band of the Hand. It’s action beats are pretty standard and it above-average grittiness is betrayed time and time again by a fantastical narrative
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 109 mins
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Writer: Leo Garen, Jack Baran
Cast: Stephen Lang, Michael Carmine, Lauren Holly
Genre: Action | Crime
Tagline: They're back on the mean streets. But this time, they're the good guys.
Memorable Movie Quote: "One sharp knife can feed you, clothe you, keep you warm and dry."
Theatrical Distributor: Tristar Pictures
Release Date: April 11, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: January 10, 2017
Synopsis: Welcome to the jungle, Miami-style, where fast cars, dirty deals, hot women, and acid-washed jeans all come with the turf. While serving time in a grueling rehab program in Florida's Everglades, five young felons bond together to form an unlikely union. When they return to Miami's dangerous ghetto, the five former criminals wage a lethal war on the drug kingpins who rule the underworld of murder and mayhem. BAND OF THE HAND goes for the jugular, never once loosening its grip until its heart-stopping climax!
Home Video Distributor: MIll Creek Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray - January 10, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Mill Creek Entertainment presents Band of the Hand with a 1080p transfer that is as good as their handling of Miami Vice, which was released later last year. The picture is clean, details are sharp, and colors vibe with neon and high-kicking reds. The black levels are a bit uneven, but that’s probably due to the low budget nature of this project. Skin tones are saturated well and sweat beads are visible throughout the film. The swamp area is rich with textured greens and speckled browns, showcasing some of the grains. The sound – which features the Dylan song and some other pop hits from 1986 – is presented in a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
None. Even the menu is sub-standard.