Happy Valentine’s Day! And yes, The Crow is a romantic movie. Just you wait and see…
Nearing a quarter century after its original release date, no matter how many times I watch The Crow, I still enjoy it just as much as the first time.
The film begins with the investigation into the death of Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and with his fiancée Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) being rushed to the hospital, though we know she is going to die also. The film then flash forwards to one year later and things get interesting. Kindly policeman Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) was never able to solve the murders; our spunky teen sidekick Sarah (Rochelle Davis) has had no one but Albrecht to watch out for her since the murders of her best friends; and her drug addict mother is too busy shacking up with one of said murderers. All in all, it’s a pretty bleak situation until a mysterious crow flies through the city and somehow brings our hero Eric Draven back from the dead. But where do you go from there? If you’re Eric Draven, you go back to your old home, the site of your murder and you mourn the loss of your soul mate and the injustice that she did not get to return as well. Then once you realize that you are indestructible (unless Bai Ling shoots your crow guide) you go around and kill everyone that hurt your woman and killed you.
For most of the film we see Eric taking revenge on his murderers and their boss, the super evil Top Dollar (Michael Wincott). There are also sweet and heartbreaking scenes between Eric and Sarah, Eric and Albrecht, and even sweeter and tragic flashbacks of Eric and Shelly.
You can probably guess what happens. In a very action packed, suspenseful climax Eric wins, bad guys lose. Eric says a tearful goodbye to Sarah and is reunited with Shelly and the two go to heaven.
The film has a haunted look and feel throughout its entirety. This town (Detroit) is the worst possible place to be. This is Gotham without Batman, a crazy punk rock dystopia ruled by crimelords with cops who are either too scared to make it better or are paid off to make sure that it doesn’t. Instead of having a typical hero to save the day we have a poetic rock star angel of death. I usually do not cheer so hard to have someone murdered, because that’s what Eric does, but the director and the writer put you into the mind of our hero and Lee’s acting makes you feel his pain so deep that you also want to find Funboy (Michael Massee), Tin Tin (Laurence Mason), Skank (Angel David) and Top Dollar and kill them for everything they have done, and will continue to do if no one stops them.
This film is perhaps best known for the tragic death of Brandon Lee on set, and while I would never say that his life and death shouldn’t be remembered, The Crow should never simply be referred to as the film that killed Brandon Lee. It is the best acting performance out of Lee and many of the other actors. It is still one of the best translations of a comic into film. I’m not sure if any other film to this day has blended the supernatural, action, suspense, poetry, dark humor, and romance as perfectly as The Crow did. It’s equal parts an action-packed blockbuster, supernatural revenge fantasy and tragic love story.
Though movie companies have tried to squeeze money out of this movie’s cult classic status by creating horrible sequel after horrible sequel (and now there are rumors of a blasphemous remake!), it is still an amazing cinematic experience that continues to entertain and inspire audiences, as well as being a romance that transcends life and death… and clown makeup.
Dark Fantasy | R | 97 minutes
Based on the graphic novel by James O’Barr
Written by David J. Schow | Directed by: Alex Proyas
Starring Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling, Rochelle Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee