The Crow


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

The Crow
"Full of gothic visuals and brooding melancholy, the bleak gloom is striking."

No matter what happens, The Crow will always understandably be over-shadowed by the tragic death of Brandon Lee (yes, Bruce's son) in the final days of filming. You probably know the story by now (or will be heading over to Wikipedia shortly), but here's the short version. In a scene where the Lee was to be 'shot', a loading accident meant the gun fired a semi-real bullet at him, he slumped to the ground as expected, director Alex Proyas called "cut", but there was no getting up... However, with the approval of Brandon's sister and mother, Proyas finished the movie using stunt doubles and digital trickery, and the tragedy arguably helped it become a moody cult favourite...

Brandon plays rock star Eric Draven, who, along with his fiancée is murdered by a gang of thugs who work for the city's evil crime boss (Michael Wincott). One year later, a spiritual crow brings Eric's restless soul back from the dead so he can get revenge on those who killed him and his beloved.

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It may be a cult favourite, but is it any good? Well, from a style point of view, the answer is a resounding yes. Full of gothic visuals and brooding melancholy, the bleak gloom is striking, all dark rooms, dirty streets and perpetual rain. The constantly-blaring soundtrack batters you into submission a little too much (and too often), but the rock-gothic feel is ideal for the underground comic adaptation.

From a substance point of view, however, The Crow is lacking. Providing little for the brain or the heart, there isn't much in the way of depth or emotion, while the dialogue feels stuck on the page and the bookend voiceovers from Rochelle Davis' young girl Sarah seem forced. Worst of all is that despite the awful things that were done to Draven's fiancée, there's little sense of satisfaction as the supernatural vigilante gets his revenge one by one...

Still, the action scenes are well put together and there are good turns from Ernie 'Winston out of Ghostbusters' Hudson as the sympathetic cop and Wincott as the ominous kingpin. As for Lee, while the co-credited choreographer obviously rocks the fight scenes (well his Dad was a bit handy), he brings an appropriately-haunting vibe to every scene he's in, nailing some key lines (like his response to Hudson's "Don't move, you're dead!" order: "I say I'm dead...and I move"). Chilling us further, he eerily mused on mortality in his final interview: "Because we do not know when we will die we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. It all seems limitless." Spooky.

Though largely without substance, The Crow is a cult classic that will forever be shrouded by the tragic events on set.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2010
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A restless soul comes back from the dead to seek vengeance.
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Director: Alex Proyas

Writer: James O'Barr, David J. Schow, John Shirley

Starring: Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Ling Bai

Year: 1994

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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