The Crow
Dir: Alex Proyas
Star: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1994
Format: VIDEO

People once believed that when a person died, a crow carried their soul to the land of the dead. But Sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it; and the soul cannot rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to make the wrong things right.

The night before their wedding, musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiance Shelly (Sofia Shinas) are brutally murdered by a gang of thugs led by T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly) over a petition they signed against the landlord of their apartment and T-Bird's boss. Eric having been stabbed and beaten whilst he was forced to watch the gang rape and beat Shelly was then shot and thrown out of the window of their top floor apartment, 36 hours later Shelly also died from her injuries.

One year later Eric rises from the dead, brought back by a crow in order to exact revenge and supreme justice upon those who were responsible for his and Shelly's untimely demise. Disorientated and confused Eric is led by the crow to his old apartment, where he remembers some of what happened that night and discovers some of the awesome power he has been endowed with to carry out his quest. Knowing what he must do Eric uses some old make up he finds in the delapidated apartment and paints his face with the guise of a theatre mask depicting "irony" before embarking on his bloody revenge.

"Guess it's not a good day to be a bad guy"

Led by the crow Eric seeks out the members of the gang, first confronting Tin-Tin (Laurence Mason) a knife throwing maniac and one of T-Bird's little helpers, who eventually informs Eric some of what he wants to know. The information leads Eric to a seedy pawn shop known as "Gideons" and after Eric makes an Edgar Allan Poe entrance he reclaims some certain sentimental items and interrogates "Gid" before blowing up the shop and resuming his hunt.

Due to the tragic and fatal accident on set during the final week of filming Brandon Lee unfortunately never got to see The Crow completed. It is obvious that he put a lot of effort into his performance and it shows throughout the film and can only be described as superb. Although a little difficult to ignore the tragedy surrounding the film it should not stop you from been drawn into the maelstrom of emotions that Brandon was endeavouring to portray on screen as his character must embark on this bloody crusade. A single minded and cold-blooded pursuit of violence which is contrasted by flashbacks of Eric and Shelly before their deaths, showing their love for each other and manages I think to highlight Eric's motivation, pain and suffering at the loss of his humanity.

Adapted from cult comic by James O'Barr The Crow has remained very close to the comic in many respects, with most of the original story of "love, loss & retribution" remaining intact for a change. The first installment of the 4 part story was released at the beginning of 1989 and O'Barr then took his time in finishing the story but had already attracted a cult following.

Good direction from Alex Proyas who has brought the dark and moody atmospherics to the big screen, and managed to finish making the movie despite the death of Brandon Lee which undoubtibly cast a shadow over the fate of the production. Basically you have to admit that the basis of the story is a little depressing and a little romantic at the same time but it's melancholy overtones do diminish to lead to an uplifting finale (But not exactly a happy ending). A fine ensemble cast all provide good performances and those of Michael Wincott, Tony Todd, Bai Ling, Ernie Hudson, and (David Patrick Kelly) especially deserve mentioning. Bai Ling in one of her first US movies is sensually chilling as "Myca" the sister of organised crime boss "Top Dollar" incestuously played by Michael Wincott whose menacing performance is a perfect balance for the poigniant and powerful performance of Brandon Lee.

Special effects, despite the obvious necessity for some CGI in certain cases (scenes in which Brandon could not appear) are pretty good, although some look a little dated already they don't ruin the scenes but merely add a little depth with possibly one or two minor exceptions. A soundtrack with more rock music than you could shake a stick at binds and links the film to Eric's former profession of a musician and has some great tracks, although Eric's guitar solo on the roof is possibly the most memorable.

Unlike many comic to movie transitions, The Crow is certainly one of the best and retains most of it's original elements with some of the violence toned down but maintaining the all important story which was meant as a one off and not a sire for a sequel or a inferior tv series (even if it did star Mark Dacascos) . In the comic Eric is forced to have a keeper or guide in the reaper-esque form of the "skull cowboy" who advises Eric on his quest whilst ensuring that the rules of Eric's return are not broken. The crow itself is essentially an extension of Eric as well as being the keeper of his soul and source of his power. The skull cowboy scenes were filmed with Michael Berryman as the skull cowboy but when it came to editing, these scenes were omitted along with several others which to be honest would have been better off being left in as they relate more of the story and help to justify it's violence.

That aside though The Crow is still a spectacular film to watch and contains thrills, romance, violence and a downright gritty gothic atmosphere.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home