Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Crow (1994) Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson


With the forthcoming release of the reboot/remake thirty years later, it seemed like a good time to rewatch the original from 1994.

It’s a movie that must grapple with a tragic legacy – indeed the new movie has had to contend with that legacy with comments made about the memory of Brandon Lee, who tragically died during filming, just a few scenes short of finishing the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, the 1994 Crow is a good movie but had Brandon Lee lived would it be as highly rated? (A similar sentiment for Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight after his death).

Brandon’s death at 28, tied into his family legacy – his father Bruce Lee also having died young (32). There are parallels between Brandon’s death and the posthumous Game of Death starring his father, both were completed using stand-ins.  Bruce’s character fakes his death through a firearms accident on a movie set – the exact scenario of Brandon’s death.

The sequel The Crow: City of Angels (1996) had to grapple with that legacy – it felt like it was scared to stray too far from the original lest it offended the fans of the original.  And every sequel since has done the same. Even the TV series Crow Stairway to Heaven – just retold and expanded the first movie.  Let us not speak of The Crow Salvation and The Crow Wicked Prayer. 

The crows with crow/raven pun surnames – Draven (d raven – the Raven) is subtle but Ashe Corvin, Alex Corvis and Jimmy Cuervo stretch the gag too far – and all had to have the mime makeup.

Indeed, the stories behind these continuations hint at what might have been – a Rob Zombie director Crow film, castings I mean Wicked Prayer had David Boreanaz and Danny Trejo in the cast and used neither as the Crow electing to have Edward Furlong in the title role (no disrespect to Furlong but he just didn’t have any presence as the Crow). 

A more horror focussed film, a dark Western were touted.  The reboot was to star Jason Mamoa, then creative differences caused him to drop out. 

Look at me, nearly 400 words deep and I have barely touched the film itself.

The Crow is a dark gothic brooding affair that deals with the resurrection of Eric Draven to avenge the murders of him and his fianc√©. 

Lee is great in the title role, a man cruelly ripped from the woman he loved on the day before their wedding and returned to life a year later to avenge those deaths.

Ernie Hudson as the good cop willing to investigate on his own despite the threat of demotion has just the right mix of world weariness and drive for justice.  Even taking over from Shelly and Eric in looking out for young Sarah.

Michael Wincott, as Top Dollar plays man who is bored of his own violation of society’s norms that he casually sleeps with his half sister, killing another sexual partner and railing against the normalisation of his transgressions having started Devil’s night. The Crow offers him a challenge.

Top-dollar and his crew are just fun to watch, high as a kite and dealing with a revenge zombie who can’t be killed.  “You can’t be you! I killed you!” one declares, another presumes the Crow is a drug hallucination. 

Skank’s rambling retelling of T-Bird’s death is a darkly humorous bit, with Top Dollar suggesting they record him talking and play it back at half speed. 

But Eric is not just a revenge zombie, he finds Sarah’s mother Darlah and using crow magic gets her clean and tells her to look after her daughter. 

Perhaps the moral of the film comes from Eric himself “it can’t rain all the time” The darkness must be tempered with the light.

The movie is full of stunning dark visuals and the special effects stand up really well for being 30 years old.

It’s movie I enjoy watching every now and then. 

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