The Crow (1994) Review

The Crow

Release Date: May 13, 1994

Director: Alex Proyas (I, Robot, Dark City, Gods of Egypt)

Stars: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott

I had been putting off watching The Crow for a long time now. Its one of the early comic book films that doesn’t often get recognized for being a comic book movie. I find that a lot of people who worship this movie are goth/emo people and I tend to avoid their recommendations because its just not my style so I’ve been meaning to check it out for a while but finally got to it last night. That said this is a really solid film. Even 23 years after its release.

The Crow is based on a comic written by James O’Barr and was published in 1989 and quickly gained a cult following. O’Barr was inspired to write the comic after his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver. The film itself follows Eric Draven, a musician who comes back to life a year after he and his girlfriend are killed and seeks revenge. Its a very simple revenge driven plot. There isn’t much more to the story than that and it really doesn’t matter because the characters are well executed and I wanted to see them get the upper hand.

Brandon Lee plays Eric Draven beautifully. Its hard to address Lee’s performance without mentioning what happened to him on the set of the film. Lee is the son of Bruce Lee who died at 32 under some questionable circumstances in 1973. Brandon Lee actually died on the set of The Crow due to an unfortunate issue with a prop gun that was fired and killed him at point blank range. The rest of the film was finished with the help of stunt doubles and special effects and replacing Lee was done nearly flawlessly. Lee’s performance is still great though and its very possible that he was headed towards a very long and healthy career after The Crow. The film still saw release a little more than a year after Lee died and the film is dedicated to him.

When I watched Lee I thought I thought there was a possibility that Heath Ledger took some inspiration from him for The Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger is obviously a lot more unhinged than The Crow is but the character has this really unusual quirks that reminded me a lot of seeing Ledger’s Joker for the first time. Revenge is basically all that fuels Eric Draven and there are some flashbacks that reveal some more about what happened to him. That’s really all you need to follow the character and its great to watch him be a complete invincibleĀ badass from that point on.

Ernie Hudson plays a cop that becomes an ally of The Crow and even though they don’t have a lot of screen time together I thought they were a really interesting pair. It would’ve been great to see them team up again in a sequel, but obviously you can’t always get what you want. Michael Wincott plays the villain and he didn’t really get a lot of character development but he works for a revenge plot.

The style behind The Crow dates it a bit. There are a lot of moments that feel a little stuck in the 90s but the stunts still remain pretty realistic and the plot has aged well too. Hollywood has been pushing to remake this film for quite a while now and its been in development hell for years. Jason Momoa is the most recent star attached to a remake, but after watching the original I can understand why people are so desperate to remake it. The material is rich and the film itself could probably benefit from a modern update and I say that in the nicest possible way. In the day of modern comic book films this could be a story that stands out amongst the pack. I’m glad I finally checked out The Crow and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good action thriller.

The Crow gets 77 out of 100.