[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B000IMVMFM][/pullquote] In 1989, James O’Barr released a comic book series called The Crow which he wrote as a way of coping with the death of his girlfriend at the hands of drunk driver. In 1993 work began on a film adaptation of the story, directed by Alex Proyas and starring Brandon Lee, the son of legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee. During the the final weeks of shooting a tragic accident on set resulted in the fatal shooting of Lee, which caused a hasty reshuffling of the films scenes and plot. The film was finally released in 1994 and dedicated to the memory of Brandon Lee. In the same way that The Dark Knight received a lot of press because of the death of star Heath Ledger, The Crow found the run-in to its launch clouded by the events surrounding Lee’s death.
On the eve of their wedding day, a woman is beaten and raped, while her guitarist fiance Eric Draven (Lee) is stabbed, shot and thrown out of a window to his death and Shelly herself later dies. One year later, a crow taps on Eric’s gravestone and he rises up through the earth, impervious to harm and invincible. He dresses himself in dark Gothic attire, with faux harlequin face paint and sets off to avenge both his and Shelly’s deaths.
The Crow is a simple revenge plot with little to no characterisation and the majority of the film is sold on the style and atmosphere. The plot, simplistic as it is, never stops for long enough for you to realise the problems with it and leaves you almost breathless with adrenaline. Proyas, now better known for Will Smith vehicle I, Robot, brings a moody and melancholy griminess to the city in the film which overpowers every scene. While this is a case of style over substance, the style is so sleek and engaging that you really don’t mind that it’s shallower than a puddle as you’re guided through the events in an almost dream-like state.
The Crow will forever be remembered for the death of its main star, but serves as an excellent epitaph to a career cut short by tragedy, and the theft of someone with real potential. Lee’s performance is excellent, although it might have something to do with the events surrounding the film. His presence permeates throughout and it’s tough not to wonder what kind of career he would’ve had, were it not for the accident on set.