Just wait till Kurt wakes up from his sleep. There’s gonna be some hell to pay.
Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) was a young, hip, cool, and happy dude that lived his life to the fullest with his fiancée and the local kid that they would watch over from time to time. However one night changes all that when a band of thugs stroll in, kill him, and rape and murder his girl. Fast forward to a year later, on the same night, Eric resurrects from the dead only to get revenge on the people who caused his death in the first place, as well as the powerful kingpin who may have been behind it all along (Michael Wincott).
I don’t think I’m sharing any shocking news to anybody out there reading this, but as you know, the leading star of The Crow, Brandon Lee, son of Bruce, tragically died on the morning of March 31, 1993, because of a gunshot wound that was supposed to be a dummy bullet, but was instead a very, very real one. It’s news that I don’t think is necessarily “new”, but it’s something you should definitely know about before seeing this flick as it puts a darker spin on a movie that, hell, was already pretty dark to begin with. But being a film-viewer and one that acknowledges tragedy and what could have been, I will admit that it’s very sad to see something as upsetting as a wrongful death happen to a star that seemed to have so much promise going for him.
What’s even sadder however, is how damn ironic this flick is, especially when you know that Brandon Lee is dead and is in fact, playing a dead guy who comes back alive, only to ponder the questions of living life, being dead, and the after-life.
Yup, it gets pretty shaky at times when you look at this movie in hindsight, but there’s something about this movie that still stays cool and fun. That’s all thanks to director Alex Proyas who, as you could probably tell from the first shot of this movie, had a background in music videos prior to this. Proyas gives us a style that’s as unrelenting and seedy as the underworld it takes place in and around, while also speeding things up when we need it to. There’s a certain sense of energy and quickness in the tone of this movie, but it’s also very somber and it never lets you forget that, no matter how crazy the story may turn out to be with it’s ghosts and all.
That’s why a movie like this would usually scare the hell out of audiences by having them think it’s “uncool” to see something as goth and evil as this, but the movie walks a fine line between being strictly for the geeks, as well as for the action-audience as well. It’s a fine line that they cross a couple of times when it decides to get a bit in too over it’s head with all the questions and thoughts about remorse, death, and how we all approach grief, but still kept me intrigued. I’ve probably watched this movie about three or four times by now, and it’s only gotten better for me once I realized that there was more to this direction than I’ve ever noticed before. Proyas is a flashy guy, but he never loses his sense of wonder and allowing people to join in on that wonder and look around for a bit if they like. I looked around, and I liked what I saw, for the most part.
What I didn’t like when I looked around is the story itself which, if you take into consideration what it’s really about, is pretty weak in trying to convey emotions. Without sounding too harsh, if it wasn’t for the real life fact that Lee died, the story probably wouldn’t have been as emotional and hit harder, because it’s pretty standard stuff. Dude wakes up from death; dude wants revenge; and dude his revenge in the bloodiest, most unabashed ways possible. So standard, that when the movie tries to get us to feel anything, anything at all, it loses complete control of what it’s really about and brings into question whether or not this movie had a second-agenda to itself, or is it really just trying to be a darker, R-rated version of a superhero movie that gets the baddies, exactly where it hurts? The answers never really come, because the movie never knows what it wants to be, but at least stayed interesting because Proyas gives us so much eye candy to taste on.
And also the real-life fact that Lee died.
Okay! I’m just saying!
While I’m on the subject of Lee, the dude does fine as Eric Draven, but it’s honestly not something I’ll remember for the rest of my days and wonder “what could have been?” It’s more or less a performance that is amazing when it comes to the physical attributes of it and what he had to do in order to kick ass and make it look realistic, but when it comes to giving this character a heart or a soul (I’m guessing that’s a pun), Lee doesn’t really seem to hit his mark. He shows joy and wonder in messing with the dudes he’s set out to get, but everything else, whether it be to emote or show some sort of heartfelt feeling in the pit of his head, he seems like he’s trying a bit too hard, or isn’t trying at all. It’s a shame too, because I feel like Lee would have gotten better and better as time went along and he had more roles come his way, but for what he left us on, I can’t say I was colored impress. I was saddened to not see more of him, but life will go on and I’ll probably think about him, his life, or what could have happened to his career, less and less as the days go by. That’s not me being mean, that’s just me telling it like it is.
Despite Lee not being the electrifying-presence the movie may have needed to really tune itself up, the supporters are energetic and fun to watch, even if the movie seems more concerned with Lee and Proyas’ style. Michael Wincott is a bunch of fun to watch as the main baddie of them all who shows that he always has the upper-hand on everybody, whether it be because of his control of the city, or because of the skills he has to kill people in most unexpected ways. Whatever it may be, the dude provides an equal-villain against the Crow and doesn’t allow himself to get out-shined once him and Lee share the same screen together. Other detestable character actors like Jon Polito, Bai Ling, and David Patrick Kelly show their fine faces and give us the type of baddies we want and desire from a movie like this, and keep it fun and over-the-top, just like it needed to be, in order to be taken seriously.
Strange to say, but “over-the-top”, seemed like the right way to go for this movie to ever be taken in as a smart meditation on life and death, even for those 15-year-old kids who probably went out, saw it with their parents’ money, went home, and told them both how much he/she hated them and couldn’t wait to live out on their own after high school.
And then they didn’t, and felt like a bunch of a-holes; like we all do at age 15.
Consensus: The personal, on-set tragedy of what happened to the Crow, may overshadow some of the movie’s obvious faults, but taken in as a movie and a swan song for Brandon Lee, it shows that there was talent here and there, it just never got a chance to shine away like it did for his daddy.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images
Michael Wincott’s voice and presence in anything takes it up a notch wouldn’t you say? *Wow.*
I actually think that Lee was fantastic in The Crow, he made it his own and it would have been exciting to see what he would have done next. He elevated the film with his performance
Haven’t seen it since I was a 15-year old! I remember it having an excellent soundtrack
I would probably rate this a bit higher. Lee was fantastic in the best role he ever had, the soundtrack was great, the villains were villainy and the movie is the best adaptation of the graphic novel we will probably ever get, even with the supposed reboot that is coming out.
Great review, been a long time since my last watch.
Re watched this a few weeks back and still loved it. Proyas was on top of his game, here. I thought Lee was pretty good and Michael Wincott was flat out sensational in the bad guy role. Good review, Dan.
Wow, you have an amazing site here mate. Not only is the writing top notch, but the amount of movies you have written about is insane! And if I read correctly you were born in the 90’s?! Wow, at 28 I feel so, so lazy for only just getting my writing up online hehe. Hopefully I can build up a massive archive like you have managed.
Seriously, no blowing smoke up your backside, you have one comprehensive site here. And after reading this great review, perhaps I should revisit some older classics rather than only writing about new releases. It would certainly give me an oppurtunity to write more!
Bravo mate, you have an amazing site here.
It was not a real bullet in there it was a piece of the other bullet (fragment) that was lodge in there when they put the blank bullet it fired the fragment in there into Brandon’s chest acting like a real bullet. The dude was a novice and didn’t have experience with gun that much he got fired and never to work in Hollywood again. The thing is the is was a low budget film and they could afford this two bit gun smith who didn’t know how to handle guns. Nice review by the way I loved this film I am going to watched it again. Brandon died the same age as his father at 33. What are the adds.
Yeah, very fair review Dan. Only seen this the once many moons ago but remember it just how you wrote it.
Never seen this one although I do often hear it talked about. Great review Dan!
This is the kind of movie that lives long because of the things that happened around it. I have yet to watch it.. like almost every cult classic out there, but I’m sure I’ll give it a try at some point.. 🙂
Although I have seen this I can’t remember anything about it…guess it’s time for a rewatch 😉