..

BAND OF THE HAND

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Stephen Lang, James Remar, Leon, Lauren Holly, John Cameron Mitchell, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: Bonus Trailers
Length: 110 Minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2003

Film *1/2

To be perfectly honest, I wasnít expecting a true classic of a movie here. The only element of interest to me of Band of the Hand was the fact that Michael Mann happens to have his name attached to the movie. Mann served as a co-producer, but from what I can see, he must have been looking away when the movie was being made. It was released during the extreme success of his television creation, Miami Vice, and his breakthrough directorial project, Manhunter. The movie itself looks like a blown attempt to recreate The Mod Squad with a Miami Vice touch, but the results are anything but successful.

The movie opens with the arrests of five vicious juveniles. They consist of Moss (Leon), Carlos (Danny Quinn), J.L. (John Cameron Mitchell), Ruben (Michael Carmine), and Dorsey (Al Shannon). When the five suddenly find themselves paired up with each other, they discover that their time owed might be served in the traditional sense. Instead of the traditional run at juvie, the fab five end up somewhere in the swampy Florida Everglades.

It is here that they are under the command of a take-no-prisoners mercenary named Joe (Stephen Lang), who organizes a strict rehabilitation program that will enable the five ragtag dudes to stand up for themselves and develop a sense of leadership. If youíre by chance asking yourself why they need such criteria, it is because they will need it to wipe out the very crime infested streets of Miami they used to be a part of when they are placed back into society. Talk about the most believable premise of all time.

This is simply one of the more uninvolving action flicks Iíve come across, and anyone will tell you that I am an action junkie. I actually just watched Road House for the first time and found it to be sort of a cult classic, and it is a true masterpiece compared to this. Even the action scenes arenít anything to get astounded about. Now itís true that this was made back in 1986 when most action films consisted of such ridiculous plotting, but nothing in Band of the Hand got me intrigued for a second. Even the title song by Bob Dylan, which is played over and over again in the movie, got on my nerves.

Thank goodness Michael Mann has evolved into the masterful filmmaker that he is now, with such knockout classics as Heat, The Insider, and Ali under his belt. I hope, for his sake, he has pretty much forgotten everything about this forgettable little staple in his career.

Video **

Yet another victim of the Full Screen virus that has been plaguing many DVD studios lately, with Columbia Tri Star becoming the latest casualty. As expected in such a presentation, the image is obviously cropped, and mixing this in with a near 20 year old flick is pretty much like adding insult to injury, because it also means gratuitous grain and image softness along the way.

Audio **1/2

Not as bad as one may expect. The 2 channel track actually offers some good output for the action and music in the movie. Though I mentioned that the action isnít worthy of an in-your-face type of quality, the sound quality does a decent job of enhancing it.

Features 1/2 *

All that is included is a couple of Bonus Trailers, including Little Nikita.

Summary:

After watching Band of the Hand, Iíll be careful about future movies I watch, even if a respected filmmakerís name happens to be attached. This may be labeled an 80s cult classic to some, but for me it was darn near excruciating.