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Film / Band of the Hand

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A 1986 action/drama film produced by Michael Mann and directed by Paul Michael Glaser, focusing on a native American Vietnam veteran named Joe (Stephen Lang) who takes a bunch of trouble young adults under his wing as part of a rehabilitation program. In the swamps of the Florida Everglades, they learn to get past their petty differences and lingering gang affiliations and work as a team to survive.

Back in Miami, the group runs afoul the local drug cartel, including street crime boss Cream (Laurence Fishburne) and his boss, drug kingpin Nestor (James Remar). The group attempts to clean up the community and protect the local residents from Nestor's influence.

A box-office bomb that became more well known for its frequent appearances on HBO, the movie has gained a cult following due both to folks nostalgic for the 1980s as well as some surprisingly decent performances in what should have been a negligible action film.



  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Nestor is a product of his time, a man that thinks "drug lord" and "war lord" are synonyms (at least on American soil) and tries to kill a bunch of teens just because he doesn't likes that their attempt at gentrifying a single building in a neighborhood means people will be a little bit less despondent (and thus needing his drugs) in their lives.
  • Bad Boss: Nestor demonstrates the usual characteristics associated with a crime boss, including paranoia, megalomania and a short fuse, and angrily berates his workers when things don't go his way. To make his point, he sticks a knife through a henchman's hand when he looks at his girlfriend, pinning it the table.
  • Breakfast Club: Basically The Breakfast Club with machine guns. The young adults learn to put aside their differences and work together. Only instead of writing an essay, they attack a drug factory.
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  • Heel–Face Turn: Carlos and Nikki. Even though he was a member of the Band and a survivor of Joe's training, Carlos still feels the lure to return to the world of drug dealing. He and Nikki leave Nestor's operation once they realize how crazy he is and decide to join the Band for good.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Nestor is furious when Nikki leaves him and orders his men "do whatever you want with her" when they catch her as long as they kill her when they're done.
  • Magical Native American: Joe has some elements of this to his personality, but it's mostly his war veteran status that makes him a formidable opponent.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Joe gets killed when Cream's men attack the Band's home. The Band, trained as a proficient fire team by Joe, decide to strike back.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: As if being a violent, manipulative drug lord who treats his girlfriend like a piece of property wasn't enough, Nestor is also racist and practices voodoo.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The theme song, "Band of the Hand (It's Hell Time, Man!)", was written and performed by Bob Dylan, with backing by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • The Stoic: Joe has seen plenty of the worst of the world, both in Vietnam and also on the streets of Miami. He remains taciturn but hopeful that the world can change.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Joe gets killed when Cream's men attack the Band's home. Up until then, the band was just trying to keep their neighborhood clean. Their leader's death motivates them to destroy the drug lord who ordered the hit.
  • Team Hand-Stack: Joe leads the five protagonists in one, to symbolize that they are all part of each other now, "like fingers on a hand". Later, after Joe gets killed, they do another one as they prepare to take on Nestor and his men.


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