The Crow (1994)

Over 25 years after its initial release, this film still may be known for its star’s accidental death, but it still reigns in terms of its sheer awesomeness.

On Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween, guitarist Eric Draven and his fiancée Shelly Webster were viciously murdered by a gang attempting to take over the property. A year has passed, and it is time for Devil’s Night has arrived. This is the one night of the year where chaos reigns supreme and crime hits all-time highs. However, on this night, order is about to come in the form of the late Eric Draven, who thanks to a crow appearing at his tombstone, has come back to life.

Having flashbacks of the night of his murder, Eric has discovered who is responsible for his and Shelly’s deaths. Donning face paint and armed with the crow as his guide, Eric sets out on a path of vengeance. Along the way, he meets the cop who attempted to save Shelly and has reunited with teenager Sarah, who has been Shelly’s best friend for a long time.  With their support, Eric will continue his quest of revenge until the last one is gone forever.

More than twenty-five years have passed since the release of this film and the death of its lead star. However, it is clear that this film still holds as an epic tale of love and revenge based on the graphic novel by James O’Barr. While the world still misses Brandon Lee, one cannot say that this was not his best performance, because it was. Brandon Lee is to The Crow in the same way Heath Ledger was as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Gone too soon, but still made an impactful performance that withstands the tests of time after all these years.

Brandon Lee had the best intention in playing the lead Eric Draven. He wanted to do a film that would be different from what anyone expected. The son of the legendary Bruce Lee, it may seem fitting that Lee was destined to do martial arts films and he did do that. But with this film, he broke the mold and gave a captivating final performance as a rock musician who comes back from the dead to seek revenge for himself and his fiancée. With the face paint in tow, Lee gets to show an amazing range of acting. He’s menacing one minute and then very emotional and caring the next. It is when we see Lee begin his quest for revenge that he gives off an amazing combination of menace and smart-alecky with quotes from some of the greats.

Ernie Hudson does well in the role of Albrecht, a Detroit police officer turned detective who becomes Eric’s best ally alongside Rochelle Davis’ Sarah, a streetwise teen who is seen like a little sister to both Eric and Shelly. Michael Wincott gives off a combination of slickness and devil-like qualities in the role of Top Dollar, the biggest crime boss in the city with Bai Ling by his side as the mysterious Myca. The always great David Patrick Kelly, along with the late Michael Massee, Angel David, and Laurence Mason round out the cast as the crew responsible for the deaths of Eric and Shelley, prompting Eric to go full revenge mode with the titular bird as his guide.

The film would spawn three thematic sequels, a short-lived 1998 series with Mark Dacascos in the Eric Draven role, and a failed attempt at a reboot in which we would have seen Jason Momoa play Draven.

In any case, The Crow still stands as an epic tale of love and revenge. It would be Brandon Lee’s most riveting and final performance. One cannot argue that had he still been alive today, we would see more of him doing something other than martial arts films with this being his breakout performance.

WFG RATING: A+

A Miramax Films production. Director: Alex Proyas. Producers: Jeff Most and Edward R. Pressman. Writers: David J. Schow and John Shirley; based on the graphic novel by James O’Barr. Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski. Editing: Dov Hoenig and Scott Smith.

Cast: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Rochelle Davis, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Tony Todd, Sofia Shinas, David Patrick Kelly, Michael Massee, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Anna Thomson, Marco Rodriguez.

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