New To Blu: Band of the Hand (1986) - Reviewed

They're back on the mean streets. But this time, they're the good guys. 5 lost boys follow the path to redemption in this anti-crime saga. 

With the Death Wish series in full swing, Scarface becoming the ultimate coke king, and Rambo making his muscular presence known across the land, Band of the Hand was a solid effort that was (at minimum) a refreshing spin on the decadent tales we had grown so accustomed to during the Reagan era. Jumping from the colorful but muddy environment of the everglades with a glaring Lord of the Flies throwback feel to the big city drug battle against men named Carlos and Cream. Glaser's vision is muddled at times but represents an era lost in film. Band of the Hand still shines as an example of the cocaine addled '80s as the folk sounds of Bob Dylan are blended with the synth heavy music of composer Michel Rubini. 

Centered on a group of criminals that are released from jail into the hands of Indian Joe (a young Stephen Lang) to learn survival methods and how to abandon their criminal ways, Band of the Hand is a definite product of the decade it was released in. With early performances from Laurence Fishburne, James Remar, and a youthful Lauren Holly, the story of Band is a mish-mash of themes including gangland battles, the clothing styles of Miami Vice, and an obvious message about urban decay that pits a multi-cultural band of former crooks against a bigger, badder villain. 

You stole our shirts. Prepare to die. 

Hot off the televised successes of Miami Vice came this neon infused, no shirt wearing, 1980s reformatory post-teen drama. As a criminally neglected piece of retro cinema, this Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky and Hutch) production suffers from mild personality disorder as he attempts to mix the famously colorful visual elements of Michael Mann's series with a violent tale of former criminals taking on a drug kingpin. With survivalist cinema in full effect, this story of youthful redemption feels forced and often times contrived but ultimately passes muster when the 'band' begins its final journey towards becoming law abiding servants of justice. 

Initially planned as a television show, the Band of the Hand pilot was edited and turned into a theatrical release that would ultimately fail, only bringing in a meager 5 million dollars against a budget of nearly 9 million. Initially catching this on pay per view when I was only 12 years old, I finally had a chance to catch this again with its recent blu-ray release. In the year 2017, Band has aged extremely well and still maintains some of the same relevance it captured over thirty years ago. The story and characters still hold true and their adventure could definitely translate to a possible remake. 

Although it was never a huge hit, Band of the Hand is a definite must see for those that want to experience the '80s first hand. This movie is an all in one package of the things that made it such a gloriously over colored decade filled with shirtless gang members and men in florescent mesh tank tops. Take a chance on this one. You just might like it.