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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.62%
Average: 6.76%
Pretty Bad: 10.81%
Total Crap: 0.68%

6 reviews, 112 user ratings

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Crow, The (1994)
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by Brian McKay

"The film that killed and immortalized its star still holds up quite well"
4 stars

"What price Immortality?" is a question that I'm sure Brandon Lee's family, friends, and fans have asked in the years after his untimely death on the set of THE CROW. Was making a movie worth dying over? Of course not. But as far as swan songs goes, Lee could have done a hell of a lot worse. While Brandon Lee was a merely competent genre actor who was probably never going to win any gold statuettes, his portrayal here of Eric Draven, a.k.a. "The Crow", brings an unexpected level of depth and empathy to what is basically a simplistic revenge play protagonist. One could argue that it's the role he was born (and died) to play.

The film wastes little time with backstory, as we are instantly thrust into the dark world of The Crow's alternate Detroit. And the thing you notice in the opening shots is the thing you'll continue to notice througout the film- the directing, cinematography, and art and set design of this film are all top-notch, creating a distinctly visceral atmosphere that is itself one of the film's lead characters. As with the opening shots of a similarly dark and moody film like Blade Runner, the initial crow's-eye view that swoops down over a perpetually rainy cityscape of industrial wastelands, seedy nightclubs, and burned-out tenements lets you know instantly that you're not in Kansas anymore. A brief voiceover from a young girl explains the notion that a crow takes departed souls to the afterlife - only in some cases, when a horrible wrong must first be righted, it can bring one of those souls back.

Meet Eric Draven (Lee), an aspiring young rock musician who comes home to find his beloved girlfriend Shelly (Sofia Shinas) being raped and beaten by four thugs. After shooting him and tossing him out of a sixth-floor window to his death, they leave Shelly for dead as well. She is found by Sargeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson), a former homicide detective who was busted back to street cop for "sticking his nose where it didn't belong" (in other words, trying to do his job). He stays by Shelly's side through 30 hours of surgery, but she doesn't make it.

A year later, the only person who seems to still miss Shelly and Eric is Sarah, (Rochelle Davis), a young skate punk whose heroin-addict mother is too busy shooting up and screwing her dirtbag criminal boyfriend to pay much attention to her daughter. Sarah leaves flowers on the graves of her friends on the anniversary of their murders, and notices a crow landing on Eric's tombstone. Not long afterward, Eric claws his way up from the grave with an immunity to bullets, the ability to "see" the memories and pain of others, and only one agenda on his plate - payback.

Now, I'm not going to jump the fanboy bandwagon and say that this is one of the greatest films of all time. The truth is, there are some things that annoy me about it. The score tends to wax far too melodramatic at times, the script occasionally grows repetetive (If I have to hear somebody say "It can't rain all the time" one more fucking time . . . ), and some of the cast just doesn't cut the mustard. Rochelle Davis, who is not only a major character but the film's narrator, is a horribly monotone little thing. I know she was just a kid when this was filmed, but I've seen peformances three times better from kids half of her age. It comes as no surprise that her movie career began and ended with this film.

But for its shortcomings, the film has so much more going for it. In a lot of ways, The Crow is like a really cool theme restaurant. Yeah, the food's not bad, but the atmosphere is killer. The film consistently hits just the right note of moodiness, bolstered by a soundtrack that still kicks ass even ten years later. Nothing gets you in the mood for a little back-from-the-dead ass whooping like seeing that crow's eye view swooping over the city to the Thrill Kill Kult's After the flesh, or seeing Brandon Lee leaping across building tops to the Cure's Burn or Nine Inch Nails' version of Dead Souls. Like the visual atmosphere, the soundtrack becomes as much of a character as any of the actors.

Likewise, most of the actors themselves are up to the task. Ernie Hudson's portrayal of the gruff but big-hearted cop is a more than welcome ally for the Crow. And in the villain's gallery, we have the great, gravel-voiced Michael Wincott as top villain "Top-Dollar", the sexy Ling Bai as his creepy but hot Asian girlfriend, David Patrick Kelly as Top-Dollar's vile scumbag lieutenant "T-Bird", and Jon Polito as an endearingly sleazy pawn shop owner. You couldn't ask for a more entertaining group of character actors for the Crow to exact vengeance upon.

But the real heart of the film is The Crow himself, who has life breathed into him by Lee. While never in any danger of being a great actor, Lee was one of the many actors in the industry who benefitted from nice-guy syndrome. Even if his acting chops weren't always up to snuff, he carried himself with a genuinely likable charisma that could even make a crapfest like Showdown in Little Tokyo tolerable. He infuses this role with that same kind of charisma, stalking about the dark alleyways as The Crow with a feline grace and a superhero poise that transcend the character's comic book incarnation. He effectively conveys rage and grief when he needs to, and spends the rest of the time looking and acting cool, spouting great one-liners, and kicking bad guy ass. Really, what more can you ask for in a revenge-action hero?

Not only did THE CROW mark Lee's demise, but it also marked the only worthy entry in a franchise that should have died with him. As someone who's seen both of the subsequent CROW films, you can take my word for it that it's best to just pretend the original never had a sequel. While Lee's unfortunate death was a sad thing for both his loved ones and movie fans alike, we can at least be grateful that he gave us a solid film to remember him by. Somehow, I don't think he would have been quite so fondly recalled if he had died on the set of LASER MISSION.

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originally posted: 09/27/04 07:33:50
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell visonary and stylish storys kinda thin though 3 stars
1/19/16 Alexis H A man with a vendetta and a heart of gold 5 stars
3/31/12 jcar a very good movie with good acting and compelling story, lee is great in the part. 4 stars
5/31/11 Nikki One of my favourite films of all time (and I'm a 34 year old woman, not a 15 year old boy). 5 stars
4/29/11 man one of the best comic book movies 5 stars
1/22/11 herzog how can you beat badass as this film is? 5 stars
1/21/11 Crow94 My favorite film. Check it out. 5 stars
1/13/11 raider fucking awesome 5 stars
3/07/10 Marc Kelly My favorite movie of all romantic. 5 stars
8/19/09 Jeff Wilder An exploitation movie with a heartbeat. Dated in spots. But still worthwhile. 4 stars
6/08/09 Garrett Dark, cheesy, self-involved 2 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner One of my favorite all time films. 5 stars
7/31/08 georgia I liked it - was predictable though, but still worth watching! 4 stars
1/10/08 TERI Awsome,movie,good.good,movie,brandonlee,would,have,been,great,like,his,father 5 stars
10/06/07 Heretique The best. R.I.P. Brandon 5 stars
6/17/07 Lyrical Poet music,story, art direction, acting, cinematography, and action choreagrahpy are all perfect 5 stars
5/24/07 Dave excellent 5 stars
2/17/07 Punkstr2006 greatest movie ever made!!!! 5 stars
1/17/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
11/05/06 JOE Brandon Lee could have become agiant star, this performance, made him a Legend! I miss him! 5 stars
10/31/06 Justin dont fuck with the crow, asswipe 5 stars
8/05/06 nicklor24 great movie, if you haven't seen it, you're missing out 5 stars
8/01/06 bertram who ever wrote the fucked up line about the guitar solo kiss my ass you peace of shit 5 stars
5/13/06 ES I think Brandon Lee could have had an amazing career 5 stars
3/07/06 C Vega "It Cant Rain All The Time" DAMN Right!---One of the best movies i have seen 5 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake A fucking classic and anyone who says otherwise gets a kick in the throat!!! 5 stars
10/22/05 james my fav movie of all time 5 stars
10/02/05 Nicole Love it 5 stars
9/29/05 Shari Terran It is one of the best films i have ever seen it never ages. 5 stars
9/16/05 drippy Completely and utterly amazing. 5 stars
9/07/05 JubJub Definitely a classic. 5 stars
9/02/05 Mailk A modern classic. The ultimate in gothic, baroque cinema. 5 stars
9/02/05 Edward This and DARK CITY are Alex Proyas' masterpieces...too bad I, ROBOT blew chunks. 5 stars
9/01/05 unlimited LONG LIVE BRANDON LEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/31/05 Christi Wilkins The original will always be the better... 5 stars
8/31/05 Vasquez best movie ever and very sad 5 stars
8/29/05 Blissful Johnny The Grinch sucks big monkey testicles...his opinion is one listen to him, okay??? 5 stars
8/28/05 Jabberjaw An out-and-out CLASSIC in every possible way. 5 stars
8/27/05 Rever_Bear-Trap Not what I expected but... GOTHIC TO THE CORE! POOR Brandon Lee! 4 stars
8/25/05 Copper A gothic, action, baroque masterpiece! Lee's performance is legendary! 5 stars
8/22/05 Rachel This movie ROCKS 5 stars
8/17/05 ES good movie, why does the Crow in all the sequels have to look like Brandon Lee? 4 stars
4/09/05 Bat Awesome fucking movie! 5 stars
2/21/05 mpg you're a fuckin retard grinch, this movies good,you revied it like a 10 year old 4 stars
2/13/05 Matt Fekete Great movie. Skip all the sequels, though. 5 stars
2/06/05 The Talking Elbow Compelling. 5 stars
11/19/04 Robert Phillips The Movie was awsome then and now 5 stars
10/17/04 Jennie Galvez The best movie on Earth!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/09/04 Denise Lee was awesome cool story 5 stars
9/27/04 y2mckay The Grinch's review was actually very funny - but I disagree 4 stars
9/07/04 Sugarfoot Great movie. Lee's best, although not saying much since he did do Showdown In Little Tokyo. 4 stars
6/29/04 DM the Grinch is a complete dumbass 4 stars
5/18/04 John better than expected 4 stars
5/17/04 Fernanda is the best movie ever! 5 stars
4/23/04 Agent Sands OK, but I almost forgot about it 12 hours after I saw it. Rarely happens. Not bad, though. 3 stars
2/04/04 Sammy Jo Jessie i find myself watching it over and over again 5 stars
1/26/04 Eric Damn shame about Brandon Lee.If he could have been in the rest they may have been better. 4 stars
1/25/04 Lexi This is the best dark movie ever! Brandon Lee was awesome! 5 stars
1/17/04 Richard Hooper Visually Stunning 5 stars
10/20/03 Josh Standlee The greatest revenge movie any human being could ever make! 5 stars
10/14/03 RUSS Great action film Lee could have been Neo. 5 stars
7/28/03 Boomer One of the greatest Love Stories ever!! Bruce & Brandon live on . . .-R.I.P.- 5 stars
7/24/03 Kit Simply put. Great movie. 5 stars
7/14/03 Samuel Justus Great Story!!!! if it could only happen in the real world!!! 5 stars
6/23/03 R.W. Welch Dark fantasy has some holes, but considerable flair and strong characterizations. 4 stars
6/23/03 Jack Bourbon Dumbest shit ever made! 1 stars
5/25/03 The Crow Best Movie I ever saw!!! 5 stars
5/10/03 PunkMime This movie just simply rocks. 5 stars
4/25/03 Jack Sommersby Great-looking but choppy and uninvolving. 2 stars
1/07/03 Jim Bleak and stylish tale of revenge, love, and even redemption 5 stars
11/29/02 Eric Draven The greatest actor ever ! The greatest movie ever ! The greatest graphic novel ever ! 5 stars
11/23/02 Mimi Lohr This movie has been and will always be my most favorite fucking movie in all of time 5 stars
11/21/02 Washington Irving Theres a reason its a cult classic... 5 stars
10/25/02 COF COOOOOOOOL MOVIE!!! 5 stars
10/07/02 Ashley LOVED IT !!....Everything you could want in a movie!..Hats off to Cast and Crew! 5 stars
9/30/02 TheBomb69 shame it had to be known for the death of Brandon Lee, solid flick!!! 5 stars
9/30/02 Charles Tatum Incredible film ruined by "the accident" 5 stars
9/29/02 Buddha It just oozes style and cool. 5 stars
8/10/02 Damien Raven The BEST MOVIE EVER 5 stars
8/05/02 Lexy Z. One of my favourites. 5 stars
3/07/02 Dave The most incredible love story of all time, dark, moody, stylish, in-fookin-credible 5 stars
12/12/01 slappy jacks brandon lee was really good despite being a hack performer(godblesshissoul) 5 stars
10/10/01 Cheyenne Rea This movie is awesome, and Brandon Lee, as well as the rest of the cast, did and outstandin 5 stars
5/21/01 The Bomb 69 well done all the way around, Lee would have been a star if lived through picture 5 stars
3/24/01 Casey top-notch, this movie had it all, great star (brandon lee, R.I.P), great plot, and killer m 5 stars
3/24/01 Alex For some strange reaso the love story got to me, this is one of my favorites 5 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Exquisitely heart-breaking and action-packed 5 stars
2/15/01 The Rubber Possum This is by far the greatest movie i have ever seen and possibly the best action film ever! 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla Destined to be a cult classic, but don't watch the shitty sequels or the series 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin it's too dark and pointless 2 stars
5/22/00 Obi Wan One of the best cult films!! If only we could have gotten a real sequel!! 5 stars
4/24/00 Ryan fairly decent 4 stars
3/21/00 Laura I happen to be a comic freak who loves this comic movie. There are few better 5 stars
11/18/99 KTL this film is awesome because it is well-though, not solely because Brandon Lee was in it 5 stars
9/24/99 Cyanide Rush Awsome setting, wicked acting, justified murder, solid drama and a kickin soundtrack. 5 stars
9/03/99 Myra I've yet to stay awake past the 20 minute marker. 2 stars
6/25/99 Michelle It is the best movie ever!!! 5 stars
3/04/99 Rachel Loved this movie, curse #2 and the damn tv series. 5 stars
1/12/99 demon_shredder Alex Proyas kicks ass. 5 stars
12/21/98 angie d. it sucks that Bradon Lee is dead. 5 stars
12/11/98 Scion of Graveheart Great, but what can I say? 'Nuff said. 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred 1994, the golden age of fucking awesome movies. 5 stars
11/21/98 Slupet Very Very cool movie 5 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob Alex Proyas creates a world AND atmosphere for the characters to live in. 5 stars
10/25/98 Lord Of The Dunce Just a great fucking movie. If Brandon was still alive they'd be up to part 4 by now. 5 stars
9/20/98 Ky about.....the best movie I've ever seen??? Long live Brandon Lee!!!! 5 stars
9/17/98 cheryl_ann it captured the character from the o'barr's comic very well. lee did a great job as draven. 5 stars
9/02/98 f*r*o*s*t*y Darkness, great love story, action, all dat. 5 stars
9/02/98 J-Guy great flick, probably a little too trendy, though. 5 stars
8/31/98 Mister Whoopee Coolly gothic. Lee will be missed. Proyas knows how to go dark. 4 stars
8/29/98 Johny Atmospheric entertainer of the best sort 5 stars
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  11-May-1994 (R)


  06-Jul-1994 (MA)

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