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The Crow

The Crow 1994

I missed out on a few things that I wanted to do as far as scheduling goes, I wanted to watch all of the sequels before watching the original and have the review of this one up on Devil’s Night, right before Halloween. Instead, I only watched the first sequel and then watched this one on Halloween. But I’m sure none of this is very interesting to anyone reading this so I’ll just get straight to it. I loved the Crow when I first saw it, I probably did not watch this in theaters as I would have been 14 at the time and I was not the type of teenager who saw a lot of R rated movies in theaters. But when I did watch it, I fell in love with it, and I was also very intrigued with the whole behind the scenes story about Brandon Lee’s tragic death during filming and the early computer and optical graphics to complete the movie without him. But the style, the writing, and the feel of it still holds up, it’s extremely quotable and filled with memorable characters and an amazing soundtrack. I’m honestly a little disappointed that it’s taken me this long to rewatch it.

The Crow

Brandon Lee is a major part of why this movie holds up so well. He is charismatic, good looking, and can handle all the stuntwork and action scenes thrown his way. The look of his painted face after he comes back as the Crow is iconic, and this movie is so damn quotable. He’s got a ton of great lines “Victims: aren’t we all?” is one of my favorites. The writing for all of the dialog just works, from the somewhat biblical spouting hoodlum T-Bird who has a line that doesn’t sound like it would work, but in the context of this movie, I can’t imagine any other line that would sound more fitting than “One of my crew got himself perished.” Even something as simple as when Ernie Hudson who plays the beat cop investigating this whole situation leads off with “Don’t move!” instead of “Freeze!” turns into a great little back and forth between himself and Brandon Lee.

One of the other things that this movie is famous for is that this is one of the first instances of actor replacement using digital technology, mostly during the scene near the beginning when he is roaming through his old apartment, using a combination of a body double whose face we don’t see, they also used moments of when he had just come out of his grave where they cut him out and placed him in the apartment background, and the final image of his body double standing in the shattered window when lighting reveals his face, which was digitally added to the body double’s face. Most of it still looks great, if I didn’t know about it, I’m not sure how much I would have realized, and the final reveal of his face looks better than other digital effects I’ve seen in more recent movies, though when his whole body has been inserted into this new background, that part has not aged nearly as well.

crow on fire

The villains in this movie are very colorful and interesting, even if most of them are fairly one-note characters, there are enough of them that when you put them together, you get more than the sum of their parts. T-Bird, as I mentioned before is the biblical spouting leader of the small group of thugs, so named for his car. Funboy is the heroin addict, Tin Tin is the one who loves his throwing knives, and Skank is always seemingly strung out on speed, mentally slow, and more or less a source of comic relief. I found him to be fairly annoying during the first half of the movie, but when he ends up being the last one left, his scene with Top Dollar is priceless. And of course, I have to mention Top Dollar, who I always used to think was played by Christopher Lambert, I think it’s the long hair and the case of old looking swords he has at his disposal. He is actually played by Michael Wincott and is the sadistic druglord crime boss in the town and the facilitator of the arson extravaganza called Devil’s Night. Along with his “sister” Bai Ling, they are an interesting pairing, from the early moment where they roll over a dead, naked woman “I think we broke her.” He has a very morbid sense of humor, but like everything else in this movie, works well in this context.

I haven’t even gotten to the visuals and the soundtrack yet. This was probably one of the first soundtracks I ever bought. I am a collector at heart, once I get into something, like really get into something, I like to collect everything I can surrounding it. And at this point in time, I was really into the band Nine Inch Nails, so I was in the process of collecting all of their albums, as well as any singles they had on soundtracks that weren’t also available on one of their albums, which included the Lost Highway soundtrack, and this soundtrack where they did the song “Dead Souls”. There are a ton of great songs in this soundtrack from bands like Stone Temple Pilots, and a cameo from My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult. The visuals also do a great job of making it feel more like a graphic novel come to life. The city itself looks great, with many high sweeping shots following a crow flying over the city, there is also more of a limited color palette for most of the movie, except for the flashbacks which are over-saturated with color. I also really like the little detail that Brandon Lee puts the Crow makeup on towards the beginning of the movie, and when we get to the end, it’s almost completely washed off by the rain and fighting.

I think one of the weakest points in the movie is the subplot with Sarah and her mother Darla, who is a waitress at a dive bar and Funboy’s girlfriend. I have no problems with Sarah herself, I think the young actress does a great job, especially during most of the voiceovers. But I didn’t really get a feeling that Darla’s presence was very important or connected to Eric Draven or the Crow. The only part that is kind of interesting is the fact that it does give the Crow an extra set of powers that aren’t directly related to getting revenge. But at the same time, Sarah felt like she would have been just as interesting if she were the exact same character, but just with no real mention of her mother. But overall it’s a fairly minor part of the movie and the rest of it works so well that it doesn’t really detract from it that much. It’s one of my favorite movies and I’m really glad I made the time to watch it again. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on November 2, 2013, in 90's movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I was 15 when this film came out; I saw it in theatres, but not then. Saw it about 10 years later when the local second-run theatre did a Midnight Matinee one summer (wish they still did that). Very solid film, looks great on the big screen. Brandon Lee was a pretty capable actor; it’s a shame we didn’t get to see him do anything more.

    • I see a handful of usually family films over the summer, I’m sure there are some other ones around here in Chicago, but I haven’t had much of a chance to seek them out yet. I imagine if Brandon Lee were still around, he would be in the next Expendables movie due to having a lot of great action roles after this one.

      • Oh, there’s no doubt that Brandon Lee would be in the Expendables franchise, probably from the very beginning, if he had lived. He may not have been the supreme martial artist his father was, but he was good, and he was a good actor. He’d have had a lot of martial arts roles, and I think the key players in the Expendables franchise would have respected him, both for his father’s sake and his own.

  2. Great review Bubba! I LOVE this film solely because of Brandon Lee. It’s so tragic that he died here, he has the looks, charisma and talent to be a big star!

  3. Nice review Bubba. Time hasn’t done this one well, but it still looks very cool after all of these years, and I’m pretty interested in seeing what they can do with the remake. That’s if the remake ever does happen.

    • I know! I feel like I’ve been hearing about it for ages. As long as they work with James O’Barr, I hope it will turn out well, unlike the three sequels and TV series (I think?) that they’ve done so far.

  4. Love this film so much. I was obsessed with it when I was about 16. The soundtrack is so epic.

  5. Nice review! I’m disappointed that I didn’t see this film closer to when it was released, because I definitely feel like its quality would compare favorably to the films released that year, but not necessarily to a lot of what we’ve seen lately… and I have a hard time thinking about it in context.

    • It is fairly weak when you hold it up to some more recent dark comic book fare like Sin City or Dredd, but it still holds a bit of a nostalgia factor for me so I really love it.

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