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Menacing Hand Shot

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"Let's cut to the chase; I'm gonna hand you a life of pain."
The Menacing Hand Shot is a particular framing shot meant to dramatically show that one character means to threaten or attack another. The shot is usually from behind the character and at their waist or hip level and is focused on one of their hands, held down or slightly out from the body, and holding or drawing a weapon of some sort, becoming a weapon, or in preparation to do so.

The character is often walking toward whoever they intend to attack, although the shot can be done just as effectively from a static pose. The intent is to establish or build dramatic tension for the upcoming confrontation and make it clear that the character has no qualms about whatever they're intending to do.

This shot is sometimes paired with characters dropping their weapon out of their sleeve. Bladed weapons are often featured, especially switchblades and other such knives, due to the extra visual punch of the blade coming out.

Compare Hand of Death. See also Fearsome Foot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door: During the confrontation between Vincent and Faye, after he knocks her to the floor there's a shot from Faye's POV focused on Vincent's midsection and right hand as he pulls out a switchblade. However, instead of cutting her, he cuts her top open.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, there is a shot of Mei's paw, claws extended, when she advances on Tyler after he threatens to blackmail her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This shot is frequently used in Westerns during duels, usually showing the duelists twitching their hands or flexing their fingers in anticipation of the draw, or subtly moving their hands closer to their guns. Prominent instances include the climactic duel between Paden and Cobb in Silverado and the Mexican Standoff between "Blondie", Tuco, and Angel Eyes in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • The Accountant (2016): During the assault on the farmer couple, after Christian and the bearded mook are thrown from the farmers' truck, the camera focuses on the mook's right hand as he pulls a knife after standing up.
  • Black Panther (2018): While T'Challa is charging toward Klaue at the conclusion of the car chase, he bares his claws, making his anger and intent to kill clear. Teaser trailers showed him from his waist up doing this with both hands, but in the movie the shot is focused on his right hand.
  • Gemini Man: After Junior revs up his motorcycle and then launches it at Henry to try to kill him, the camera focuses on his left hand as he pulls out a switchblade while walking toward Henry to try to finish the job.
  • This shot appears multiple times in the Harry Potter films:
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Viktor Krum enters the maze in the third trial, he gets placed under the Imperius Curse and starts hunting Harry, Cedric, and Fleur. The first shot we see of him is his wand held at his side like a dagger as he stalks through the maze.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • A heroic example happens in part I. Just before Harry (Polyjuiced as Runcorn) confronts and then Stupefies Umbridge, the focus shifts to his right hand as he drops his wand out of his coat sleeve and catches it.
      • In part II, just before Voldemort casts the Killing Curse at Harry in the Dark Forest, as the music begins to swell the camera focuses on the Elder Wand in his right hand as he starts to lift it to cast the curse.
  • It (2017): When the Losers fight Pennywise in the derelict house and Bev stabs him through the head with a poker, as he turns and closes on them the camera focuses on his right hand for a couple of shots, the fingers swelling and tearing through the glove and growing long black talons. Word of God is that this is a nod to Pennywise turning into a werewolf in the novel during the same confrontation.
  • The Matrix Reloaded: After Smith overwrites Bane, we first seem him hiding behind some piping and cutting his hand, but when Neo and the others walk by, he steps out and starts to follow them, the camera cutting to the knife in his hand a couple of times as he prepares to attack.
  • Minority Report: As Fletcher's team is surrounding Anderton, one of the cops extends her "sick stick". The next shot is several sick sticks in the hands of the other cops held low and dagger-like as they start to close around Anderton.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: Philip's death sequence starts when one of his puppets transforms into Freddy. The puppet's head morphs into Freddy's likeness, and then the shot focuses on its right hand remolding into a human-like hand from which blades extend from the fingertips.
  • Revenge of the Sith:
    • When the Jedi confront Palpatine in his office, just before the battle begins there's a close-up of Palpatine's hand at his waist as he drops his lightsaber out of his sleeve.
    • Anakin's Moral Event Horizon moment is when he kills the child trainees in the Jedi temple. The last shot in the scene is a wide shot with only Anakin's hand and part of his cloak visible, the children reacting in fear as he ignites his lightsaber.
  • Stargate: During O'Neil's fistfight with Anubis, there's a quick shot of Anubis's gauntlet as he bares a fistful of razor-sharp claws, which he proceeds to slash O'Neil's back with.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: During Victor and Logan's fight scene in a Canadian frontier bar, as they prepare to brawl and share some banter, there are waist-level shots focusing on their hands with claws growing out of them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Crystal Maze: Downplayed in that occasionally, Richard's hand is seen ready to lock somebody in, while counting down towards the end of the game.
  • Reacher: In the pilot episode, just before the brawl in the prison head starts, the camera lingers on a shiv in the right hand of a prisoner standing behind Reacher.
  • Stranger Things: Two is punished with a shock collar for mistreating Eleven. In the scene, the camera shows the collar in the orderly's hand as he snaps it open before walking up to Two and fastening it around his neck.

    Video Games 
  • Mortal Kombat X: Scorpion's pre-fight interactions with his opponents include a shot of him holding his chainblade in his hand and then dropping it to take hold of the chain before he goes into his "ready" stance.
  • Realms of the Haunting: The first two shots of Belial in his first meeting with Adam are his feet as he walks up and then his right hand as he is putting on his gloves made from human skin. He's later shown flexing the fingers of his right hand, as if anticipating the upcoming confrontation.
  • Red Dead Redemption: Duels are a mechanic, and part of the animation before the draw features such a shot from the player's perspective.

    Web Animation 
  • Team Fortress 2's "Meet the Spy": The BLU Soldier kills the BLU Spy on suspicion that he's the RED Spy in disguise. As he and the BLU Heavy examine the Spy's body, the BLU Scout starts walking toward them from behind. The POV switches to behind the Scout as he pulls out a butterfly knife, then switches to in front of him as he unfolds the knife, staying framed around his right hand.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Revenge", as a Continuity Nod to Anakin's example from ROTS, Darth Maul gets the same kind of close-up on his hand as he ignites his lightsaber before he and Savage massacre the population of the Raydonia outpost.


Video Example(s):


Shock Collar POV

When Two gets punished for mistreating Eleven, the camera focuses on the Shock Collar in the orderly's hand.

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