Movie: "The Crow"
Year: 1994
Rated: R
Genre: Action / Adventure
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Writing credits: James O'Barr, David J. Schow, John Shirley

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 5/6/2009

Plot: Murdered rock musician Eric Draven rises from the dead one year after he and his fiancee were murdered to exact revenge on his killers.

Review: I was a junior in high school when The Crow came out, and back then the movie wasn't quite as cheesy to me as it comes across now. Despite its flaws, despite some not-so-good acting and two-dimensional characters, part of me will always love this movie. It's true that part of the appeal is certainly the romantic mystique due to the tragedy of Brandon Lee's death, but even without that melancholy level of appreciation, The Crow is a wonderfully atmospheric, tragic, and at times, lovely story. It's not going to change anyone's life, but there are several wonderful little moments (surrounded by some embarrassing ones) that really are quite moving.

The plot is your basic revenge story--Eric Draven (who is not "The Crow"--the title refers to the bird and its symbolism alone, he's not some cape-wearing superhero with a cheesy nickname) goes around exacting vengeance on those who killed him and his fiancee, one by one. It doesn't get any simpler than that. So the script isn't exactly award-winning material (though it is better than the comic it's based on, which comes across like James O'Barr was just making it up as he went without any kind of direction or plan--which we'll forgive, since it was a cathartic way of dealing with his girlfriend's death). No, the real reason anyone watches this movie is to see the bad guys get their much deserved comeuppance, which is surprisingly satisfying given the fact that we only witness their crime in disjointed flashbacks (much of which is likely a result of Lee's untimely death during the filming of that sequence). Though perhaps the film's most enjoyable scene to watch is Draven's encounter with grumpy pawnshop owner Gideon, whose shop he visits to retrieve his fiancee's engagement ring.

The film is surprisingly well-cast for such a low-budget movie, featuring the likes of Ernie Hudson as the helpful cop who seems to accept the undead Eric a bit too readily, Michael Wincott as the crime lord Top Dollar, Bai Ling, David Patrick "Warrriorssss, come out to playeeeaaaay" Kelly as the leader of the gang of thugs who are Draven's targets, Tony "Candyman" Todd as Top Dollar's muscle, and Jon Polito as Gideon. I've seen most of these actors give better performances elsewhere, and though you never quite forget that they're acting in this film, they still seem to fit into their roles rather well. And of course, Brandon Lee himself showed a fair amount of acting potential--some of his emotional notes fall a little flat, but he exhibited a lot of promise for improvement. I particularly enjoy seeing the look on his face change from terror to boredom when he turns his back after being shot in the hand by Funboy. If he had lived, I think he would have developed into quite a decent actor.

And of course, no review of this movie is complete without mentioning the exceptional soundtrack. The music fits the tone of the film perfectly, and I like that they went with some older songs, even if they did have newer bands perform their cover versions (Nine Inch Nails' version of "Dead Souls" isn't as good as Joy Division's original, but it is perhaps a better fit for this film). The two highlights though are My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult's performance in Top Dollar's club, and the iconic Cure song "Burn" (the best song on the soundtrack, and one of their best songs period), which you hear just after Draven puts on his white facepaint, and it encapsulates the overall feel of the movie so well I can't imagine the film without it.

It's actually quite remarkable that they managed to save this movie and turn it into something coherent, given the fact that the lead actor died filming one of the most pivotal scenes (albeit toward the end of shooting). I have to assume that if Mr. Lee had been alive to see the final cut, he would have been very happy with it, and might have agreed that it serves as a rather poignant ending to a promising career cut tragically short. I recently read that they are planning to "reboot" the franchise by remaking this movie, which is extremely disappointing to me. While there was certainly room for improvement, this is Brandon's movie now, and they should just leave it the fuck alone, rather than try to ruin something special by diluting the potency of this movie (though they already tried that with the shitty sequels).

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

May 7th, 2009, 05:03 PM
Funny, 2 nights ago I was just thinking about how Brendon was shot by a real gun and how this film isn't so cult that it makes a shit ton of money.
Saturday Night Slammaster
May 7th, 2009, 06:46 PM
I remember this movie is where Sting got the idea for his later gimmick in WCW.
Last of the Time Lords
May 7th, 2009, 06:54 PM
I like this movie, though the sequels mostly suck.

Always wondered by it was Eric that came back from the dead instead of his fiance. She was raped as well as murdered, so doesn't she have an even better reason to seek vengeance? Seemed a little bit sexist that even after she's dead it's her boyfriend's job to take care of business.
May 7th, 2009, 08:10 PM
Originally Posted by Muscle_Bomber_Uno View Post
I remember this movie is where Sting got the idea for his later gimmick in WCW.
And another person died from that too.
May 7th, 2009, 11:04 PM
I recently read that they are planning to "reboot" the franchise by remaking this movie, which is extremely disappointing to me.
Yet another sign that Hollywood has no original ideas any more...

rather than try to ruin something special by diluting the potency of this movie (though they already tried that with the shitty sequels).
But where else can you see Dennis Hopper as a preacher (and I use the term loosely), spouting the immortal line "I now pronounce you a devil and his shorty?"

Originally Posted by Doctor_Who View Post
I like this movie, though the sequels mostly suck.

Always wondered by it was Eric that came back from the dead instead of his fiance. She was raped as well as murdered, so doesn't she have an even better reason to seek vengeance? Seemed a little bit sexist that even after she's dead it's her boyfriend's job to take care of business.
I've heard other Crow stories with female leads. Maybe they just figured they'd have a bigger draw with a male one. Either that, or he has the vengeance aspect of not being able to *prevent* her rape/protect her from them. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that he died the way he did and she died in the hospital. Who knows?

Also, the soundtrack? Whole heartedly agree! There's something about Eric's guitar playing that just sends shivers through me every time I hear that melody. Recently rewatched the movie and discovered that I did not own the soundtrack (though it was a staple among my group when the movie first came out) and was a little dismayed at not being able to find it very easily. I'm going to have to go hunting...
Is a thin donkey
May 8th, 2009, 02:58 AM
Originally Posted by Tadao View Post
And another person died from that too.
Tadao, WTF are you talking about?

Oh, and Protoclown, you made some pretty good points. Personally, I think the best line in the film has to go to Top Dollar:

Quick impression for you. Caw! Caw! Bang! Fuck, I'm dead!

Actually, he had all the best lines in the film, now that I think about it.
May 8th, 2009, 03:16 AM
Owen Hart died mocking Sting who was mocking the Crow. That's WTF I'm talking about.
May 8th, 2009, 09:13 AM
When I saw The Crow, it was my high school graduation weekend. I was hung over really couldn't go home like that so I stumbled into the theater. The theater was completely empty and the projectionist actually came down to see if anyone was in the theater. When he spotted me, he started the movie. I basically watched this movie as a private screening and the entire experience blew my mind and remains my best movie watching experience.
LOVES the tubal ligation!
May 8th, 2009, 11:38 AM
The only thing the comic did better than the movie was when he killed T-Bird. That was great in the comic.
Ba dum dum dum dum
May 8th, 2009, 12:18 PM
No matter how many times I see this film I can always barely remember it, which is strange for me. I swear I've seen it about four times now (once within like the last year) but I always seem to half remember it at best. Which isn't a knock against it, it's a good movie, but somehow the vast majority of it always slips my mind.
May 8th, 2009, 03:29 PM
On another note, you talking about a remake of this film reminds me of the also unnecessary reboot of Star Trek. I hate to go off on a tangent, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with star trek, so why in the world would you reboot it?

The last 2 or 3 ST films did poorly not because the source material was bad, but because they let Jonathan Frakes have far too much control over the films. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's great when it comes to very specific stories (aka as Borg movies/episodes) but he totally sucks at everything else.

Similar issues plagued the crow sequels btw.... the first sequel was actually quite good, but as crappier and crappier writers/producers/directors were attached to the franchise they became progressively worse.

With the Star Trek reboot I can't imagine why they would return to the original series instead of using another crew other than for a cheap cash-in. For it's time TOS was very innovative, but looking back, it was practially a joke compared to the newer spin offs and it has endured not for it's serious-ness and social impact, but for pure camp value. Then I hear that the film involves time travel as a plot device to explain to all the fanboys out there how any of this could possibly happen. In other words, they took the "silly" star trek and try to make it serious while still making the most superficial star trek film to date in addition to erasing the history of the original show which paved the way for 40 years of programming and films? And on top of that JJ Abrahams claims he's neither a fan of star trek nor is he familair with the films? Then WTF was he even offered the JOB!!!!???!!!

UGH is all I can say... just UGH.

Hollywood needs to quit raping established pop-culure and gomake new films. NOW!
Amicable Herculean
May 8th, 2009, 06:48 PM
HowardC, since when is the new Star Trek a reboot? I assumed it was just a prequel, like Batman Begins.
May 8th, 2009, 07:03 PM
Oh no, now you done it! You asked a Trekkie why!
Amicable Herculean
May 8th, 2009, 07:53 PM
Pfffft, what's he gonna do? Choke me with the Vulcan Death Grip?
May 8th, 2009, 08:07 PM
Much worse, he's going to type.
Forum Virgin
May 9th, 2009, 08:54 AM
I actually liked the second movie a lot, even though it was pretty much just a remake of the first. The movies after that though.... 100% shit.

City of Angels had a cool soundtrack and the acting was not bad. Plus, Vincent Perez is dreamy!
O HAI!!!!!!
May 9th, 2009, 08:45 PM
I used to love this movie....but i agree after watchin it now it seems more funny than moody or dark, especially when fun boy shoots the whole through Erics hand and Erics laughs about it, that always cracks me up.....and the flaming crow after he killed t-bird was cool too i always thought
Forum Virgin
May 9th, 2009, 08:51 PM
Loved this flick. It came out when I was a freshman in HS and watching it today brings back a ton of memories. I think the film captured the feel and tone of the early to mid 90s pretty well. Yes, watching it now you see a ton of flaws, but like an old friend, you ignore them. They're just little ones anyway. I always thought Lee would have become a bigger star had he lived. Maybe he would have been in the Matrix and not Keanu.

The soundtrack is amazing and critical to the film. It's one of those flicks which rely heavily on atmosphere and the music sets the mood perfectly. From the Cure, NIN and STP, you can't really get much better. I'm not sure how someone a lot younger will view the film, but if you were a teen in that period and immersed in the grunge, dark rock culture, you'll like it.
O HAI!!!!!!
May 9th, 2009, 09:11 PM
well since the wachowskis wanted will smith to be neo they could have put anyonme...maybe a board...it would have had less wooden actin.........................ok yeah that joke was shit but I did like soundtrack as well Rage Against The Machine, STP, The Cure, NIN some good stuff
Forum Virgin
May 10th, 2009, 04:41 PM
@HowardC: The reason they probably hired Abrams for Star Trek was BECAUSE he didn't give a crap about it. You answered the reason why when you talked about how Johnathan Franks handled Star Trek.

This isn't unheard of recently. Comic writer Warren Ellis was given the G.I. Joe property by Hasbro and told he could do just about any thing he wanted with it and the characters. The short cartoon series G.I. Joe: Resolute came from it and it was amazing. Best part is Ellis had no prior knowledge of the Joe Universe having grown up in England with Action man.

As for the Crow, Hollywood needs to let it be. Maybe make another serious sequel without the young John Connor fighting Angel/Agent booth and Tara Reid. Possibly then we'll have another movie worth watching like the first and second films were, but don't "reboot". Both those, albeit somewhat lame by today's standard, are really going to end up going down as the unsung classics of the 90's.
May 11th, 2009, 12:05 AM
I never really cared for this movie at all. It sucks that Brandon Lee died while making it, though.
Retardedly Handsome
May 11th, 2009, 12:38 PM
I didn't even bother to read your review or any of the comments (I'll go back and do it in a moment). I am just assuming that you just tell every who doesn't know already that this move is fantastic and a must see and you are right. I guess all these comments are saying how awesome this movie and how "it can't rain all the time".
LOVES the tubal ligation!
May 11th, 2009, 04:45 PM
You sir a presumptuous dork.
May 11th, 2009, 04:52 PM
Fookin' up planets!
May 12th, 2009, 09:44 AM
ever notice that Alex Proyas loves rounded circular windows.
check out his other flicks for proof yo.
May 31st, 2009, 07:28 PM
The DVD I saw at a friends house had a making-of documentary that talked more about the comic and how its creator came up with the comic after his girlfriend was killed and also about how much he hated the movie (they wanted to turn it into a musical starring Michael Jackson at first). I remember watching the movie with the commentary on and the director and producer I think said it was the first movie with a modern rock soundtrack. Huh?

Other than that I don't think I'll watch this ever again, I saw it when I was 10 maybe I can't remember but I remember Pantera was on the soundtrack covering a Poison Idea song so this movie was instrumental in getting into punk rock.