The Crow Review
”People once believed that when a person dies, a crow carries 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 put the wrong things right.”
So begins our tale and indeed, the franchise which although some may consider this an action movie, it's very essence, it's very soul if you will is not about vengeance, but about love. Devil's Night, October 30th, the day before All Hallows Eve is the fateful date that sets our scene, where two young people are found, one dead and the other dying. We know not what has happened to them, but, in flashback, we will discover that Eric Draven (Lee) and his girlfriend Shelly Webster (Shinas) were attacked by a gang run by T-Bird (Kelly), but whom were motivated by Top Dollar (Wincott), because they failed to leave their home (for whatever reason). The price for their non-compliance, for Draven was to be knifed and shot several times, eventually leading him to fall from a great height to his death. His girlfriend Shelly, was beaten, raped and left for dead, indeed her suffering was to last 30 hours in the ER before she died. But such deeds were not meant to go unpunished and on the first anniversary of their deaths, a crow awakens Draven from his grave. He then re-lives his final moments, before he embarks on his quest for revenge, not knowing truly yet what fate befell his lover, but he, as well as the viewer, soon understand his connection with Shelly and exactly what happened.
”I thought the police always said Freeze”
”Well I am the Police and I say don't move Snow White. You move, you're dead””And I say I'm dead. And I move.”
The Crow is simply a superb movie. It doesn't have an A-List cast, but it has fine performances. It doesn't have a huge budget or special effects, but then it really doesn't need them, although it did require utilising some for the scenes that Lee hadn't completed. From the transition from comic book to big screen, this movie doesn't just appeal to the comic book fans because its narrative is strong enough for anyone to view, as the theme explored is one we can easily identify with. Sure, it may have a supernatural leaning, but it's one that we can buy into, otherwise if we don't accept any plot device, we can pick practically any movie apart. Within the confines of the story, we explore and understand the emotional tragedy that has been wrought on our young lovers, which makes the ending even more poignant. We have had 3 sequels to this, but none have ever managed to get close to the sense of loss, the power of the vengeance inflicted and in fairness, no movie to date has ever had the real sense of tragedy that this one has.
It would be an injustice not to mention the tragedy that befell that movie, not because it's particularly relevant to the movie itself, nor would I wish to feel like I'd award a score because of it, I just feel that, for the people who don't know, it would be worth a moment of enlightenment. Brandon Lee tragically died while on the set of the movie, the facts of this accident are sadly, an act born of negligence. A scene was filmed where it required a shot of a gun to be loaded, cocked and then pointed at the camera. Due to the shot being filmed at close range, the bullets loaded had real brass caps but no powder in them, for safety. After the shot, the props master, as opposed to the arms master, dry fired the gun to remove the cocked hammer, but in doing so knocked an empty cartridge into the gun. The next scene shot which used this gun, was the Shelly rape scene. Blanks were inserted, that contained between 2 to 3 times the amount of gunpowder to create the noise. The script called for the character of Funboy to shoot Draven as he entered the room, which would trigger a blood pack. The cartridge, which was lodged in the gun from the previous shot, was ultimately turned into a live round, killing Lee when it was shot by the actor playing Funboy. The footage was destroyed without being developed. Such a terrible oversight that cut short a promising career.
Performance-wise, there's not really a weak link, remembering that arguably the most well known star in this movie at the time would have been Ernie Hudson, most well known for being Winston Zeddmore from the Ghostbusters movies. Brandon Lee fits the role of Draven remarkably well, showing that he's just as average as the next man, a muscle-bound lunkhead would not have worked here, neither would the equivalent of Bruce Willis - it truly needed someone to be unexceptional and he simply works incredibly well and if you don't believe me, look at the 3 sequels. Hudson works well as his “foil”, playing Officer Albrecht with an initial sceptism, but he soon accepts the idea of a dead guy coming back to life, although I have to say, I think we'd all be way more freaked that he is. Michael Wincott, playing Top Dollar, I have to say is the best role I've seen him in, he simply just works perfectly as the true villain of the movie and sadly, I don't think I've seen him better than here (and I've suffered Metro!).
Sure, people love their epic movies, with their huge special effects and cheap laughs, but whereas most of these movies lose their sparkle, or in fact never really had any, this movie is just as impressive now as it was when I first saw it on the big screen back in 1994. Again, I reiterate that this movie has death and destruction, vengeance unleashed and action sequences galore, but that pales into nothing compared to the reason for all of this action and that reason was a simple emotion we know as love.