So, reviewing a cult favorite from over a decade ago might not be the best way to make a splash as a member of the crew, but quite frankly the fact that there was a review of the poor, rushed sequel to this movie and not one of Brandon Lee’s final work, well…sucked.
Long before Miramax extended The Crow into a franchise with increasingly lower funds and lower quality, the studio put out a solid movie, based on a cult comic and featuring a young actor trying to step out of the shadow of his famous father. The Crow debuted in 1994, both empowered and damaged by the accidental death of its star.
Brandon Lee died as a result of an on-set accident involving a prop gun, and the rumors instantly circulated about the family curse. Brandon’s father, Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist who developed Jeet Kun Do, died of a bizarre allergy at 32. Brandon Lee was 28 at the time of his death. The rumors persist to this day about the Curse of the Dragon.
Director Alex Proyas was still cutting his teeth, learning some tricks of the trade, but he forged moments of CGI and real fight choreography into a visually effective movie. Scenes cut from rooftops to alleyways in the seemingly perpetual night of Detroit. Proyas would go on to use the dark and mechanical imagery in Dark City not long after The Crow. The feeling of the black and white comic carries over well to the movie, punctured strongly by the vibrant colors during flashback sequences.
Developed from a comic by writer James O’ Barr, the Crow was made more mystical, and in a way, more Hollywood. Eric Draven (Lee) and his fiance’, Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) are to be wed on Halloween, but instead, they are attacked by members of a local gang for starting a petition. Shelly is raped and dies in the hospital, Eric walks in during the attacks and dies from gunshot wounds. His death carries, as stated in the introduction, a terrible sadness, and the Crow carries his soul to him, to “put the wrong things right”.
A year later, Eric emerges from death, confused and suffering. He adjusts slowly to his return to the land of the living, powered solely by revenge, since his true love, and reason for being alive, is gone. Instead, he carries out a series of murders to avenge his loss, including the gang members who attacked and killed him, a pawn broker, and eventually the crimelord responsible for it all.
Michael Wincott (The Doors, Strange Days) plays Top Dollar, the man who oversees the criminal aspects of Detroit and the fires of Devil’s Night, with a gritty and smug self-confidence. He’s the kind of guy you want to slap for being cocky, but you’re pretty sure he’d cut your legs off for it. Rochelle Davis plays Sarah, the little girl who spent time with the couple when they were alive, and Eric’s only surviving friend. He manages to watch over her while carrying on his otherwise sadistic mission. Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Oz) is solid as Officer Albrecht who followed Eric and Shelly’s murders to the point of being thrown back on the beat. Among the gang members, give a nod to David Patrick-Kelly (48 hours, The Warriors) as T-Bird, the leader of the pack that carried out the death sentence on the couple. Jon Polito pulls off a great bottom-feeder as pawnbroker Gideon in a scene with some of the movie’s best lines.
Among the most powerful aspects of the movie is the soundtrack. With bands from The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, the music serves as a soundtrack should, to punctuate the action and elevate the emotions of the film.
Lee’s death served as a shadow over the movie and propelled the amount of interest taken in it. The extras on the two-DVD set include a commentary track, deleted scenes (including the infamous Skull Cowboy), a profile on O’ Barr, and portions of the final interview with Lee.
In Lee’s final interview, he speaks about the character of Draven and how it teaches us to value life, an irony given that his very words gave many folks comfort after his death. Among his words;
“Because we do not know when we are going to die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well and yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood? An afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four..five times more. Perhaps not even that.
How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty…and yet it all seems limitless.”