The Crow (1994)

"Looks like he zigged when he should've zagged." - Ernie Hudson

Comic book translations are notorious tricky-- anyone up for a
double-bill of THE PUNISHER and CAPTAIN AMERICA?-- and THE CROW proves
no exception. Despite a gross of good intentions, Brandon Lee's final
film doesn't fly very high.

The story opens on Halloween Eve, better known as Devil's Night.
Wilmington-as-Detroit is in flames and the police are tending to at
least *one* murder:  young rock-musician-turned-pavement-artist Eric
Draven (Lee), found on a sidewalk six-stories below the apartment he was
thrown from. The cops are also upstairs, administering aid to his fiance
who was assaulted and raped and not necessarily in that order.  She
dies, the perps. escape, and, exactly one year later, Draven rises from
the grave to wreak revenge.

Sound familiar?

Unlike Charles Bronson, whose only known superpower involves an
inability to refrain from filming DEATH WISH sequels, Lee's character
has supernatural strength and amazing agility and can even reheal from
gunshot wounds faster than Robert Patrick in TERMINATOR 2. By his side
is his crow, the presumable source of his powers as related in the

Wearing what appears to be Alice Cooper's leftover make-up, Lee is
plopped into an underlit urban landscape that was obviously modeled
after BATMAN and BLADE RUNNER. But no number of red-lit, rain-soaked
streets can compensate for cheap FX that make THE CROW seem closer to

(The glaring miniatures should show better on video, though. :)

A nod to DARKMAN is an insult to Sam Raimi, though, because Alex Proyas
can't film a decent action scene to save his life.  His two "best"
set-pieces-- some banzai board-room butchery and a cool church-roof
sword fight-- are also undercut by the awful editing of Dov Hoenig and
Scott Smith.  Blame said editors for the film's frightful flashbacks, as
well.  But the pace is quick, thank God, and every good-idea-turned-bad
is over before it begins.

The cast is better than it should be. Ernie Hudson is a good choice as a
friendly policeman and he gets off most of the film's funnier lines.
Newcomer Rochelle Davis does well as both the narrator and Draven's
scrappy ward.  Jon Polito has a small, succulant role as pungent
pawnbroker. And Michael Wincott makes a distinct impression as a
long-haired Mr.  Big whose collection of ancient-swords makes him seem
like he walked into the film from the trailer to HIGHLANDER III.

There can be only one.

Finally, there's Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, and a 28-year-old
rising-star who was fatally shot during shooting. Lee had four films to
and RAPID FIRE-- and THE CROW would've been a nice feather in his belt
and that's about it.  There's nothing great from him here-- just a good
performance that owes as much to presence as ability.

When the echo of that gunshot finally fades, watching THE CROW should
prove an even *less* remarkable experience. Despite a healthy dose of
humor and some surprising sincerity, THE CROW is still just a couple
notches above its straight-to-video brethren. For now, maybe it's an
appropriate eulogy to an actor who could only get better.

NOTE:  Gripes to Mission Valley for, again, starting a film that's out
of focus.  Come on guys-- I bought my ticket with a refund pass because
the *last* film I saw was out of focus. Sigh.

BOTTOM LINE:  THE CROW is another failed comic-book translation that
just happens to be Brandon Lee's final film.  Maybe THE MASK will wear

Grade: C-

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros