The Crow (Blu-ray)
Any review or mention of the 1994 film THE CROW usually starts and ends with the tragic death of Brandon Lee. After growing up in his father Bruce Lee’s shadow, Brandon had finally made the leap from B-movie fare like SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO and RAPID FIRE to what was sure to be his star making turn in the Goth-revenge film THE CROW. And although the film was a success that spawned multiple (and very poor) sequels, Brandon never got to experience the fame or success the film brought. Few people will argue with the idea that Brandon Lee would have been a huge star had he not been fatally shot, but as it is, THE CROW is really the only true quality film we have to remember him by. Thankfully, it’s an original film that survives the test of time and proves to stand up to multiple viewings.
Lee is Eric Draven; a musician engaged to a beautiful woman whose world gets destroyed when a gang of thieves murder him and rape his fiancée, destroying his family for seemingly no reason other than to wreak havoc. This is a crime so heinous that an unknown spirit raises Draven’s body from the dead so he can take revenge on those that wronged him. And with the added bonus of already being dead, Draven is indestructible, gaining his strength from the crow that flies next to him at all times.
Director Alex Proyas did a fantastic job with the film and set the overly dark and depressing tone right from the beginning. This is not a film that has much positivity and even when Draven is taking his revenge on the assailants, he’s constantly haunted by the memory of his family. And although we get flashbacks of Eric before the resurrection, we never really get to know him as anything other than a tortured soul. But the flashback scenes are powerful and do a great job of allowing the audience to connect with Eric, even if it’s only for a brief moment. The flashbacks to the attack scenes are hard to watch, making the revenge killings that much more satisfying. Proyas balanced a fine line between telling us too much of Eric Drave pre-Crow and telling us too little, but he pulled it off.
Revenge films are a dime a dozen and so it’s refreshing to sit down with THE CROW and see a new take on a tired plotline. One thing that helps the film along is the surprisingly witty dialogue. Lines like “it’s not a good day to be a bad guy” could have come off as cheesy one liners, but instead came across as mood-heightening exchanges that Lee sold incredibly well. In fact, he showed perfect timing every time he said something to a bad guy he was about to kill and the result is a very quotable movie, at least if you’re ever in a situation where you’re killing random gang members out of revenge.
The sequels to THE CROW sadden me, even today. Partly because of how bad they are, but mostly because of how they diminish what a great film the original is. It has been 17 years since this film debuted in theaters and I enjoy it as much today as I did in 1994.
Video: I’ve never seen THE CROW look this good and kudos to Miramax/Lionsgate for taking the time to do this title right. Everything looked stunning.
Audio: Same can be said for the audio, which features a nice rock soundtrack and a well mixed surround mix that utilizes the surround channels well.
Commentary with Alex Proyas: You may sit down with this and expect/want Alex Proyas to talk about Lee’s death and go into detail on what happened, when it happened and how he felt about it, but he barely touches on it and instead talks more about the making of the film, etc. It’s an enjoyable and informative commentary in its own right, even if he does gloss over the major event surrounding the film.
Behind the Scenes Featurette (16:32): This is an older featurette with a lot of the traditional clips and interviews, including an interview with Brandon Lee.
Extended Scenes (11:30) and Deleted Footage Montage (5:21): I enjoy the deleted footage, only because it’s nice to see more of Brandon Lee in action. I don’t think any of these would have impacted the film, but I do think more would have made it in had Lee been available for reshoots.
A Profile on James O’Barr (33:34): O’Barr is the writer of the original graphic novel and this is a nice 30 minute featurette on him and his work. He sticks mainly to his influences and stories, but it’s nice for fans of the comic.
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