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Band of the Hand

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 04/29/04 15:22:26

"80s Nostalgia of the Painful Kind"
1 stars (Total Crap)

Mocked mercilessly by those who actually remember it (i.e. Kevin Smith), the 1980's time capsule of kitsch known as Band of the Hand has finally made its way onto DVD. Delivered in a rather crappy Full Frame transfer which clearly illustrates how close to a TV program the goofy-ass movie is, Band of the Hand is as campy, kooky and pastel-laden as one would expect from something so terminally entrenched in 1986.

Ridiculous clothes, hilarious hairstyles and woefully outmoded slang jargon could all be forgiven, or even taken as an endearingly silly asset, but there's simply no reason for a flick like this to be so damn boring! If you're expecting an action-packed affair, think again. The plot details five outrageously delinquent teens who, instead of being locked away for their moronic crimes, are unceremoniously plunked into a Florida swamp. Why? So they can train to be hairy, macho he-men of course. Our youthful dirty half-dozen includes a predictably eclectic collection of racial stereotypes. There's an angry black kid, a handsome and WASPish white kid, a confrontational and fiery Hispanic fella, the brainy one, etc., etc.

With a concept like this (and the right approach) we could be looking at a goofily entertaining 90 minutes of B-movie cheese. Unfortunately that's not the case here. The first 50-some minutes of the film are devoted to ceaseless bickering, rampant racism and annoying characters. When these five aren't sniping at each other, they're whining about something else entirely. Would that these guys were the villains, we'd have something here; it'd be fairly entertaining to see each one get picked off methodically.

But heroes these obnoxious dolts are, and once they graduate out of Swamp Training the guys settle into a former crackhouse in Southern Florida. A youthful Lauren Holly (Turbulence) pops up once or twice as one of the Bandboys' former flames, Sir Larry Fishburne (The Matrix) is on hand as a slimy drug lord called "Cream", and the ever-oily James Remar (Fatal Instinct) shows up as Head Baddie.

Barring a few arcane streetfights (the highlight being 97-pound "Leon" leaping from a car and taking down seven huge thugs), the only real action comes at the end - but unfortunately that sequence feels most like a bunch of teenagers running around the backyard making rat-a-tat tommy gun noises with their fingers.

Produced by a pre-A-list Michael Mann and directed by TV's Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser), Band of the Hand forever remains a mid-80's punchline to movie freaks the world over.

If you somehow remember this one with some fondness, do yourself a favor and never see it again.

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