Band of the Hand
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2011)|
|Band of the Hand|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Michael Glaser|
|Produced by||Michael Rauch
|Written by||Leo Garen
John Cameron Mitchell
|Music by||Michael Rubini|
|Editing by||Jack Hofstra|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||109 minutes|
The movie begins with introductions of the main antagonists as they are each arrested and charged as adults for their heinous and multiple crimes. The opening scene is a full-scale gang war led by two of the more notorious gang leaders in Miami. Ruben Pacheco (Michael Carmine), leader of the "Home Boys", and Moss Roosevelt (Leon Robinson), leader of the "27th Ave Players", are arrested for leading the riot. Next, Carlos Aragon (Daniele Quinn) and his drug lord boss Nestor Quintana (James Remar) are making plans for a large purchase of cocaine. He enters a car driven by his girlfriend Nikki (Lauren Holly), goes to the meeting point to make the buy, and is set up (having bought drugs from an undercover drug unit). Nikki, seeing an officer trying to come to the car, flees, and leaves Carlos in police custody as the scene fades out. Fourth is J.L. "Crazy" MacEwen (John Cameron Mitchell). He sits on his bike on the side of a building, suddenly explosives he set up blow a large hole in the side of the school he attends. He seems remorseless as he calmly rides his bike home. He finds his sister sitting outside because his abusive alcoholic father is beating his mother. Sick of being under such abuse, he pulls a gun and points it at his father who dares him to shoot. He does so twice, without hesitation. He sits outside with his little sister, gun in hand, waiting for the police to come and arrest him. Lastly, a prisoner attempts to escape a medium security facility after striking one of the Correction Officers. His name is Dorcey Bridger (Al Shannon), and is known for trying to escape every prison facility he's ever been in. After being arrested, they are all transported to Dade County Youth Hall to be sentenced as adults, and sent to Prison. Even in the confines of the center, they still show contempt for authority (selling drugs, causing disturbances). The teens are all abruptly gathered and placed in a transport truck, and shipped to an unknown destination, fighting and trying to escape as they go. Nikki comes to the youth hall to see Carlos, and she is told that they have no file for him- even though she just saw him there the day before.
As the 5 are transported they introduce themselves to each other somewhat and continue to show disdain and posturing towards one another. They find out that Crazy has Selective mutism from his abuse and will not speak, but communicates via howls and screams. The truck stops abruptly and they are put onto an air boat and taken deep into the Everglades where they are dumped in a remote area and left alone, seemingly to die. As tensions rise and old rivalries come to a head, Ruben and Moss try to kill one another. Suddenly a man in black named Joe (Stephen Lang) comes and forcibly separates the two. They begin to ask him questions and demand food and shelter from him to which he replies, "Everything you need is over there". He points to a set of bedrolls and survival gear before quickly disappearing into the woods. The group look through the packs and find survival gear they think is useless, except for knives. They sleep on the ground not knowing what to do. The next morning they awake to find Joe starting a fire with a Magnesium fire starter. He begins to explain the uses for some of the gear they have in the packs. As he pulls out a string of several fish from a nearby river, he begins to hear from Moss about how he's been in numerous youth programs and cannot be changed. The group further complains about the dangers of being in the swamp, the time they have to stay and the legality of having them there. Frustrated, he throws his knife into the ground and begins to explain to them that they were given to him instead of being sent to prison as a last-ditch effort at rehabilitation, and that if they don't succeed, they will die out here. He then tells them that where they stand is base camp. Even after the explanation and feeding them they still refuse to clear the area to make a shelter he replies, "You guys slept good last night, fine by me".
A torrential rainstorm comes and drenches the group whilst Joe, who has built a simple shelter, remains dry. Moss sees an opportunity to get out by holding Joe hostage and forcing him to take him to Miami. He pulls a knife on Joe and is easily thrown and disarmed. As Joe teaches them more about how to survive in the swamp, it is revealed that he is a Miccosukee Native American. Tensions are still high between the five, even when they discuss something as small as a tattoo's meaning, it nearly turns into a fistfight. Joe tells them that if they want to fight each other, they must fight him first, defusing the situation. Joe leaves to gather supplies for the night and Moss notices that Crazy has finished his shelter. Trying to be the Alpha Male of the group, he forces J.L. to fix his shelter while he uses J.L.'s, telling the others that he will "rent" Crazy to them when he's done. That night, they eat their first meal from food gathered in the swamp, and the group enjoys the meal until they find out the ingredients: Milkweed, Wild Onion, Termite, Eggs, Snails, and a Frog. Ruben and Moss, being used to fast food, storm off disgusted but Crazy and Dorcey stay and eat with Carlos, who notes that if you were to eat the same thing at a restaurant in Coconut Grove, it would cost you "At least a hundred with the wine". Moss lays down in his new hut to suddenly be pulled into the air with a snare Crazy built into the shelter to teach him a lesson. In the night, Dorcey tries to escape thinking Joe is asleep, but Joe sees him leave and follows. Ruben awakes to see that Joe and Dorcey are missing. The scene cuts to Dorcey frantically running through the swamp not knowing where to go and Joe calmly tracking him. Dorcey stumbles and falls next to a Rattlesnake and is struck twice. Joe hears his screams and comes to his aid beheading the snake and giving him Antivenom. Joe returns to the camp where the remaining group ask if Dorcey will live as the group discuss the situation Dorcey begins to have a seizure he recovers and opens his eyes and the group is glad to see that he's alive.
The movie cuts to a nightclub where we see Nikki looking for a group of men to take her to Nestor so she can find out if he can find and get Carlos out of jail. Nestor says he will try, but then he orders Nikki to go upstairs and undress. She does so grudgingly and looks around his room finding a brujería shrine. She undresses, crying, thinking this is the only way that she can get Carlos back. Carlos and the group, now learn that they must follow Joe's guidance to survive. Their once fashionable clothes become tattered and worn as the time in the swamp passes. They track down a boar and instead of trying to go their separate ways to capture it or go looking for easier prey they work together and catch it. Joe sees now that they are willing to work together to survive and during their boar feast he lays down a map and compass saying that this is "Exam time" that if they track him they will come out alive and he disappears into the swamp. That next day the group are in canoes trying to find their way out but are going in circles due to the fact that the person who has the map (Dorcey) can't read. As they successfully continue to track Joe, Ruben and Moss fight over the compass thinking that Carlos who has become de facto leader has them lost. They lose the compass in the water and try to kill each other. In the chaos Crazy, fed up with the posturing and rivalry, cries out for them to stop, speaking for the first time. The group, shocked that he spoke, listen to him as he tells them that if they don't work together they will die like Joe told them, and to find the compass they lost. They travel across a seemingly endless field of Sawgrass (Cladium) working together looking out for one another and taking turns leading. That night as they camp a Black Bear enters the camp and they sleep in the trees to avoid being eaten. Later that day they find a Panther among the trees. Seeing that they are in true danger from the wilderness they pull even closer together. As the day ends they think that they are going to die and that the compass is broken they soon hear music coming from a nearby gathering of Miccosukee where they find Joe and begin to ask him if anyone else that went through the program ever saw a panther or been attacked by bears. He tells them that they are the first and informs them that they will be moving into a house in Miami to continue the program.
The group comes to a dilapidated crack house near Little Havana and must learn to live in the city without going back to their old ways. Upon arrival they find various drug addicts in the building and a small number of Haitian refugees. They chase out the addicts and think about what they will do with the refugees. Enraged at the squalor they must live in they contemplate kicking everyone out of the building. Joe leads on that they should share the building with the refugees and learn to have compassion for others. Suddenly, a commotion drives them downstairs and they see a large group of addicts and prostitutes trying to retake the house. They easily kick out the crowd and have gained the respect of the refugees who now help them as they begin to rebuild the house. The addicts and whores have now gathered across the street and are berating the group as they remodel the house. A group of men dressed in expensive clothing driving a luxury car stop next to the crowd and chastises them for letting "Five kids and Tonto" run them out of the drug house, he then drives off. Ruben and Moss explain that the mans name is Cream (Laurence Fishburne) a local pimp and drug dealer that runs the area and that even the police won't touch him. Joe brushes off the incident and sends Dorcey off to get the utilities turned on he gives him $150 and tells him to sign his name on the documents (Joe having taught him to read and write). He asks Joe "What's to keep me from taking off?" Joe replies "Nothing" and Dorcey leaves and returns a short time later. That night Carlos leaves to find Nikki he goes to The Grove to find his best friend Aldo (Danton Stone) to see if he knows where she is. He gives Carlos a new set of clothes and gives him the address where she might be staying. He finds Nikki in a large expensive apartment and asks her how she got it, She says that she's working for Nestor now and he storms off assuming that shes sleeping with him. In the lobby he is met by Nestor who takes Nikki by the hair and tells him he has nothing now in Miami and must leave. Meanwhile at the house, Ruben and Moss' gangs gather to see what their leaders want them to do now that they have come back. They find them painting the house and begin to ridicule them for doing bad work. Moss challenges one of them saying "Think you can do better, Jackoff?" the roles now reversed as the leaders watch as the two gangs are told to work together and paint the house. Carlos returns to the house and Joe confronts him at the door. He tells him one of the refugees is going to start a garden and without hesitation Carlos grabs a pickaxe and begins breaking ground trying to burn off the frustration after the confrontation with Nikki.
The next day Joe is in a city office talking to a bureaucrat that seems too busy to care about his job. Joe asks him about funding to continue his program and the man replies that "These programs look good on paper" and that because his last program failed with two of the youths he once mentored trying to rob a 7-11 and various other programs doing illegal activity he will not receive a grant and if any of his kids do even a misdemeanor they will be locked up for life. Back at the house the addicts try to kidnap one of the refugees returning from the store. The kids come to her aid and Carlos keeps them at bay with a shovel. Joe sees the commotion and pulls up screaming at them to stop. Carlos tells him they need to teach them some respect and Joe replies, "There's another way!". One of the addicts throws a beer bottle at Carlos cutting his head open. The group attacks in "self defence" and kicks the addicts out of the park. Joe laments at the act but knows there was no other choice. The next day Cream returns with more men he confronts the six as they play basketball and threatens Joe with a gun calling him "Tonto" once again. Joe disarms him and breaks his arm. He puts the gun to Cream's head and makes the group drop all their weapons. Joe tells the kids to gather the guns and kicks Cream out of the neighborhood with Cream saying " You shoulda killed me Tonto, You shoulda killed me!". That night Joe looks over his previous failed program and the kids that were killed in the attempted robbery, which ends with Joe burning a news clipping with their pictures. He overhears the teens in the other room making mock gun noises. Disgusted at them playing with the guns like children he scolds them, saying, "You wanna use a gun you start with respect not your Barrio bullshit, you start poppin' off rounds the only one who gets hit is a kid in an upstairs window!" He tells them about the failed program and his "Band" he lets them know that they are not continuing the program anymore but that he's not backing up anymore. he tells them that he's going to stand up to Cream when he returns for revenge saying "You can't change the people without changing the streets". He plans on taking the neighborhood back by force. The kids ask what will happen and he tells them that he will cover them in his parole reports for as long as he can. They refuse to leave, saying that they will stay and fight. The next morning he begins to train them in weapons and tactics saying, "Each guy's life depends on all. On each man doing his job, you cover your zone. You know the man on your right will cover your right, you know the man on your left will kill everything on your left. You are all part of each other like fingers on a hand. A FIRE TEAM!"
The scene cuts to a yacht where Cream is speaking to Nestor about the troubles and that he needs to kill the kids. Cream's associate is looking at Nikki, who is sunbathing on the deck. Nestor stabs him in the hand telling Nikki to cover herself. Nikki is visibly upset. Carlos talks to Joe that night saying that he is not coming back, he has another war going on. Joe replies that it's "The same war, you're just changing sides." he arrives at Aldo's apartment and finds Nikki there. She has escaped from Nestor. After a verbal altercation about her sleeping with Nestor, they reconcile and plan to leave Miami for good. On the way out of town, Nikki tells Carlos that Cream is going to take out the house and all the kids. He quickly makes a u-turn and goes to help. Back at the house, Cream is assaulting the area while the kids fend them off the best they can. After a long battle Carlos returns and throws Nikki out of the car. He rams the vehicle that Cream is in, flipping it over. The remaining gang members flee as the kids regroup. They look at the house that is now in flames. Cream crawls out of the car and takes aim at Joe and the kids. Crazy sees him and warns Joe. Joe pushes the kids out of the way and fires. Cream and Joe kill each other as the kids look on. Carlos takes control and tells them to gather the guns and to get Joe's Jeep. That morning the five have Joe buried by his tribe in the everglades. They return to their home that is now in ruins and say farewell to one another. Later that week, they all return one by one to the house that is now covered in Nestor's brujería symbols as a warning not to resist him. They pick through Joe's items finding that Joe was a Special Forces Commando in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam and he was the sole survivor of his own five man fire team "The Band of The Hand" and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Nikki tells them all that Nestor sent Cream and they come to the conclusion he was responsible for Joe's death and begin to plot their revenge.
The scene cuts to Nestor who is planning to open the largest cocaine production facility in the United States, and wants everything to go smoothly for his financier, "The Columbian". He tells his bodyguard that he wants him to find Nikki and kill her as he sees fit. When asked about what to do with the other five he says, "The kids, they're nothin', nobody." The said kids are in a van following Nestor to a clinic where he is purchasing ether for the cocaine production. They continue to follow him and find a large compound in the swamp with a large amount of guards and dogs in a double enclosed electric fence. Crazy and Nikki pose as a boyfriend and girlfriend planning to do some gardening and purchase numerous chemicals and equipment to make pipe bombs and tear gas. After a strange conversation about armadillos with the clerk, they return to their new base of operations to prepare and plan the assault. Nikki, who is watching Nestor, sees the Columbian has arrived and informs the group. They all jump into Joe's jeep and head out. Night falls. As they begin the assault, Carlos gets onto a radio tower and watches over the other four with an Automatic rifle. Ruben, Moss, Dorcey and J.l. disable the electric fence and enter the secondary fence. As the guard dogs approach, they use a female dog in heat to lure them away and breach the second fence as Nikki guards the perimeter. Nestor shows the Columbian the facility and its enclosed air conditioning system and that it is undetectable due to being able to scrub the ether out of the air before expelling it. Crazy uses this to his advantage and uses "Gopher gas" to force out the occupants by flooding the room with gas. A guard notices him and shoots at J.L. but Carlos kills him before he can take careful aim. The whole compound, now on alert, searches the area for the intruders as they try to place explosives in the compound to blow up the stockpile of ether. Moss, Ruben and Dorcey storm the entrance but are stopped short by an M-134 Minigun in a tower. As they are pinned down Carlos is able to take out the operator but another quickly takes his place. Crazy, being the only on near enough and out of range, climbs onto the roof and throws a pipe bomb into the tower destroying the minigun. The kids are able to breach the compound and arm their explosives, making it out alive. Nestor who has managed to escape finds Nikki with a shotgun and drops his weapon. He tries to convince her to give him the gun and grabs the barrel. Nikki shoots him in the abdomen killing him. The group gathers at the gate and detonate the explosives, leveling the building and killing the remaining guards. Driving away they reminisce about Joe wanting this and are stopped at a Police checkpoint. An officer asks where they are going and they reply "Miami, We're gonna jam!" the officer thinking they are just a bunch of innocent teens lets them go unopposed.
- Stephen Lang - Joe Tegra (pronounced Tee-Grey): A former Vietnam veteran and United States Marine Special Forces member and Miccosukee Native American. Having lost all the members of his fire team on a mission in Vietnam he was rewarded with the Medal of Honor and honorably discharged. He wants to help troubled teens, having served jail time himself but in a previous experimental program they all reverted to their old ways and were all killed or locked back up. He is highly trained in infiltration tactics, a skilled tracker, and formidable in hand to hand combat, showing the ability to disarm and incapacitate threats easily. Even though he appears to be cold to the teens at first, he grows to love them like a family even until his death.
- Michael Carmine - Ruben Julian Pacecho AKA "Mira Primo": Leader of the "Home Boys" of Miami and main rival of Moss. He was arrested for Aggravated Assault and Armed Robbery and sentenced to 3 years in prison. The more jovial of the five he tends to be more sarcastic and patronizing about situations but ends up getting on Moss' nerves easily causing fights between the two in the beginning but they end up becoming friends.
- Leon Robinson - Moss Roosevelt AKA "Warlord": Leader of the "27th Avenue Players" of Miami and rival of Ruben. He was also arrested for assault and robbery during the same riot as Ruben and sentenced to 3 years as well. The most aggressive of the five he tends to be angered easily especially when teased about anything mostly his race. He tries to be the alpha male with J.L. and threatens Joe with a knife during a rainstorm but is put in his place both times. he becomes friends with Ruben after they realize they have a lot in common.
- John Cameron Mitchell - James Lee MacEwen AKA "Crazy": He was arrested for manslaughter, arson and destruction of public property, sentenced to ten years. Known as "Crazy" for his grunts, screams and howls when he is hampered by Selective mutism that make him seem harmless but he is extremely dangerous. He shows his intelligence after he overcomes it during an argument between Moss and Ruben, screaming at the two to help the group survive in the swamp, and talking his way out of being found out for buying items to make illegal explosives. He has a knack for being able to build almost anything like shelters, snares, pipe bombs and other explosives for the assault on Nestor's compound.
- Danny Quinn - Carlos Rene Aragon AKA "The Lover": Arrested for Drug Trafficking and Weapons Possession he is sentenced to four years. He is the most calm and is very arrogant at times looking down upon the rest at first because of the money and power he once had as a major drug dealer. A very studious person, he quickly learns things when he listens but his arrogance often impedes him. He has a girlfriend (Nikki) with whom he is very attached to but this relationship causes him more trouble than good at times yet he stays by her side. He takes control after Joe dies and keeps the group together as leader.
- Al Shannon - Dorcey Jon Bridger AKA "Rattler": Arrested for Grand Theft Auto multiple times as well as fifteen escape attempts he is sentenced to three years. He shows much disdain for authority trying to escape any time he can as well as being slightly racist. He is illiterate and was a homeless drifter before being arrested. He is very sensitive about not being able to read but Joe and J.L. help him learn to. He stays with the group even though he has multiple opportunities to escape having found the family he never had with the "Band". He becomes the risk taker of the group showing little sign of self-preservation when trying to escape and when the group assaults Nestor's compound running through crossfire to plant his explosives.
- Lauren Holly - Nikki - Carlos' girlfriend. A teenager whose parents neglect has allowed her to work with some of the most notorious drug dealers in Miami. During her exploits she meets Carlos and the develop a relationship and are often seen together even on drug buys as she is seen at the beginning of the film acting as a getaway driver. She reluctantly has a relationship with Nestor thinking that he will free his one time prodigy from prison after he set him up but ends up being kept as an amusement. She escapes him and during the assault on the compound runs into a fleeing Nestor. As he tries to disarm her thinking he still holds sway she allows him to get close enough she fires point blank with a shotgun and kills Nestor.
- Laurence Fishburne - Cream - A local pimp and drug dealer in Little Havana. He crosses paths with the teens after a failed attempt to kick the group out of the neighborhood with threats that leads to his broken arm and an unintentional weapons supply for Joe's group he is ordered by Nestor to kill them all and continue business. In the ensuing battle he and Joe kill one another. After Cream's failed assault causing the kids to band together and take down Nestor.
- James Remar - Nestor Quintana - The drug lord of Miami and target of the five after Joe's death. He is a sadist who takes Nikki as his prize after betraying Carlos to the authorities. He thinks nothing of the kids' attempt to clean up the neighborhood and after Joe's death he tells his main henchmen to find and kill Nikki but to ignore the kids, thinking they will scatter. After the kids dismantle his drug operation he confronts Nikki outside his compound. Trying to use the influence he thinks he holds over her, she kills him as he tries to disarm her.
- Band of the Hand at the Internet Movie Database
- Band of the Hand at allmovie
- Band of the Hand at Rotten Tomatoes