I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Crow

tn_thecrowMan, it’s so sad to think about all these artists who get real good and then die in their twenties. How interesting would it be to hear old Jimi Hendrix recount the recording of Electric Ladyland, to see James Dean playing a father, or a grandfather, or Heath Ledger playing a character like Ennis at the end of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, but without aging makeup? That guy would’ve grown up to be rugged, but he didn’t have enough time. There’s such a long list of these guys who died after a period of fierce innovation, or seemingly on the verge of greatness.

mp_thecrowWith Brandon Lee it’s even sadder because he was more like on the verge of on the verge. After LASER MISSION, RAPID FIRE and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO it was clear he wasn’t just getting a pass for being the son of the biggest martial arts star ever. He was a fighter in his own right, training in his father’s style, but differentiating himself by being more of an actor than his father. THE CROW was his breakthrough to a bigger audience – and might’ve still been if he hadn’t died. He did some action like usual (fighting, stunts, guns, swords) but a more challenging character than he’d had before. He played a crazed, sad ghost out for revenge, terrorizing his victims with snippets of poetry. He’s got this intense look in his eyes like he’s so proud of what he’s telling you and doesn’t realize you got no clue what the hell he’s blabbering about. It would’ve been great to see what kind of roles Lee could’ve gotten after that, but of course an accident with a prop gun killed him while shooting his character’s death scene. So now his legend is based on morbid irony and conjecture instead of a body of work. Not fair.

I was thinking of this movie because of the director, Alex Proyas. I thought this was pretty good when I first saw it, and DARK CITY really good. Since then Proyas has made due with “hey, not as bad as I was expecting!” movies like I, ROBOT and KNOWING. So we’ll see where he goes from here. But first I wanted to go back to the beginning to see if he was really any good in the first place.

THE CROW is a movie of its time, the 1994 version of DEATH WISH. You get the same kind of overacting rapist creeps as in a DEATH WISH movie, but with some bonus arson and witchcraft. Instead of inhabiting a decaying city it’s an exaggerated goth model (this was the post Tim Burton’s BATMAN era, when production design was king). Instead of being based on a trasy novel it’s an “underground” comic book. Instead of an atmospheric, jazzy score by Herbie Hancock it’s a collection of songs by The Cure and various goth and/or industrial (or something) style rock n rollers. Instead of an architect he’s a guitarist in an up and coming rock band. (Surprised they didn’t say “grunge.”) Instead of quoting westerns he quotes Edgar Alan Poe. Instead of becoming a vigilante to stop crime from ruining other people’s lives he becomes a ghost who kills the people who killed him and his fiance “to set things right.”

Holy shit, I just realized THE CROW is why kids today wear eyeliner and skinny pants instead of trying to be Charles Bronson. They were just given the wrong version of DEATH WISH, that’s all it was. The next generation will probaly be more like Kevin Bacon in DEATH SENTENCE.

Anyway, as bad as the bad guys are, as much as they deserve it, it still comes off as a pretty sadistic fantasy. He has magic powers. They shoot him and nothing happens, he just makes fun of them for trying. They’re fish in a barrel. He torments them like a kid picking on animals. It’s not until the end that the movie introduces the idea that he could lose his invincibility, so there’s not much tension about him pulling it off or not, it’s just “ha ha, take that, bad guy.”

In DEATH WISH he’s got cops after him, so there’s suspense. And it forces you to be uncomfortable with his morality (in part 1 at least) because he’s sneaking out and making up alibis, it’s like he’s a serial killer. He is a serial killer.

THE CROW has a little of that because Lee plays him pretty psychotic. You definitely see echoes of his performance in Ledger’s Joker. Think of the scene where Lee confronts Jon Polito as a sleazy pawn shop owner who bought the dead fiancee’s engagement ring. Lee tosses away wedding ring after wedding ring from a box, saying each one is a life that this guy helped destroy. He loads them into a shotgun and fires it, igniting a trail of gasoline. That’s pretty cool. And that’s kind of what’s weird here. I’m not sure this character is supposed to be so questionable. I can’t shake the feeling that he’s supposed to be awesome to the people who think evil clown makeup is cool. (To be fair, this is evil mime makeup.)

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to connect any dots here, but watching it now made me think of Columbine. I mean, I bet those kids dug this movie – emotional rock ‘n roll guy takes sadistic glee in plowing through people he believes wronged him, are not as good as him, are lower life forms. I don’t know man, I usually like a good revenge story, but I guess you gotta get the mechanics right. I didn’t think this one was very good anymore.

But there’s plenty to admire about it. Michael Wincott and Tony Todd are the top bad guys, and they’re always enjoyable to watch. The dark, foggy city has a very strong look (more BLADE RUNNER than anything else). Lee does get some really good scenes, like the one where he comes right into the criminal meeting (later echoed in THE DARK KNIGHT and PUNISHER WAR ZONE, which uses sadism more humorously) or when he saves an addict by causing the morphine to drip out of her trackmarks. And I like the minimalistic explanation of the supernatural parts, which basically comes down to “people used to believe” a crow could transfer a soul or whatever.

Also you gotta hand it to THE CROW for being influential, for good or bad. Kids watching it now probaly don’t know that at the time there weren’t really movies like that. It has  a consistent tone too. Maybe it’s a corny tone, but at least they got the balls to stick with it, no joking around. Hell, I even liked Ernie Hudson in this movie. I don’t like this too much anymore, but it’s miles ahead of that later ’90s comic book movie I just reviewed, SPAWN. Although I must point out that it also has a streetwise kid sidekick (this one a tomboy on a skateboard).

Sorry, Brandon Lee. You gave it your all on this one. Wish you had more chances. I promise I’ll watch RAPID FIRE again.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 17th, 2009 at 2:27 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

63 Responses to “The Crow”

  1. The one thing that I hate the most about the movie, is how a certain fanbase (in this case: modern, whiny emo kids) suddenly declares it as their own personal movie, although it was never made for them. It’s not the movie’s fault, but I hate it when it happens. (Same with “Nightmare Before Christmas”. Or when teenaged potheads took “Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas” and “The Big Lebowski”, like they were Cheech & Chong movies.)

  2. caruso_stalker217

    July 17th, 2009 at 5:05 am

    “You owe me a new goddamn door!”

    Polito was great in this, as he always is. Watched this film a lot when I was a kid. Need to get it on DVD.

  3. I first saw this just after I turned 17 (in late 2003 in case you were wondering). I remember loving it at the time. Now, I think I want to leave it as a pleasant teenage memory, to the extent that I can. I think it would be just kind of embarassing if I saw it now. All that angsty stuff; playing a guitar on the roof after coming back from the dead, while it’s raining etc. I know a lot of non-teenage type people love this film, but I just don’t feel like watching it again any time soon. I will say, as far as this sort of thing goes, it is pretty decent and at least better than the first couple of sequels (I never saw that one with Ed Furlong), which didn’t even amuse me as a teen.

  4. I agree that this is a very ’90s movie looking back at it.

    As for sadism, this doesn’t excuse the movie but the source material was written by this man who wrote it as his own personal revenge fantasy after his fiance was brutally murdered. Like I said doesn’t excuse the movie too much from being morally questionable though.

    I still really enjoy this one but like the first “Jurassic Park” it may be because I have huge nostalgia glasses for it. So perhaps my opinion would not suffice on this one. That said I do not believe the snide comments that keep saying “No one would give a shit if it wasn’t for Lee dying” (today it’s “The Dark Knight wouldn’t have done good if it wasn’t for Ledger dying” -if that’s so then why didn’t Chris Farley or John Candy’s last two movies become the highest grossing movies ever made?). I’m opportunist enough to say that I think this movie would have found an audience regardless of tragedy.

    It is a shame that that comment applies to Brandon Lee as well. “Dying is the best thing that happened to his career” is what I hear said about him all the time. Thus I always felt it was a bit tragic that in life Lee spent his whole career (unsuccessfully) trying to escape his father’s shadow while in death he arguably become more famous for how he died.

    But hell here I go doing the same thing: talking more about the tragedy surround the film and man than the actual film.

    If you’re in the Brandon Lee mood I also recommend Ronny Yu’s “Legacy Of Rage”

  5. Vern, you forgot to mention that THE CROW’s other great influence was into Pro Wrestling with ole Sting from the now-defunct WCW, going from those goofy rainbow facepaint to that black/white shit, and in the process helping to refresh his career.

    Though its weird how he still uses it, even after he became one of those born-again Christians….which I wouldn’t associate with THE CROW.

  6. I agree that many of the trappings of this movie haven’t aged all that well, but I think there’s an underlying sadness to it (partially because of all the tragedy associated with the production and the source material) that overcomes the sadism. He might be an evil clown, but he’s a laugh-to-keep-from-crying evil clown. There’s just something so fatalistic about the revenge. It’s what we kind of all hope would happen if somebody we love were taken from us: that their comeuppance would be swift and inevitable because the very cosmos itself would not stand for such injustice. I can take or leave the poetry, though.

    I also wish there was more kung fu. I was a big fan of Rapid Fire before this movie came out (Most underrated American martial arts movie ever, in my opinion) so I was a little disappointed that those big clunky Doc Martens prevented him from doing many kicks.

    And the soundtrack is a true mid-nineties time capsule. I don’t even know if I could listen to it without being transported immediately back to high school, but the Rage and Nine Inch Nails songs are some of their best.

  7. I still unapologetically love this movie, but I get why others don’t. I mean, it’s definitely all style, but I love every minute of it.

    Also, discussion question: does a plot device that makes a revenge-movie character invincible such as in The Crow make said film more sadistic than, say, a Punisher movie, which while it lacks such an explicit device, still comes with the knowledge that, obviously, the Punisher is not going to die?

  8. That’s a good question Todd G.

    All I know is, WTF happened to Proyas?

    Vern, I know movies sometimes are easier to satisfy when one’s expectations are exceedingly low, but I watched KNOWING with the same modest standards I use on any film. And it came off as frankly silly. And you’re right about some of those moments that belong to Nic Cage’s WICKER MAN remake.

    The ending in itself I don’t mind, something one might have found in a 1950s sci-fi magazine. But otherwise, the whole cult, mystery, lead-up nonsense in KNOWING was….well, so what?

    And I, ROBOT….thats one of those dumb movies that when watching, you sadly realize the filmmakers involved patted themselves on the back for being so “smart” because they took an Isaac Asimov anthology with his dry-but-intriguing ideas, and turned it into another goofball Will Smith actioneer.

  9. i liked this movie so much as a kid that i dressed up as the crow for halloween when i was a freshman in high school. nowadays i consider proyas a hack, and even his best movie (dark city) is massively overrated. and although the crow is merely an okay movie with a good aesthetic, it sure hit all the right notes for my 13 year old self back then. plus it got me to watch “dragon: the bruce lee story” which got me to watch more kung fu, so there is that.

  10. Vern, you should review The Doom Generation. To me that’s the most hilariously “90s” movie ever made. Then maybe follow it up with Empire Records or Hackers or The Craft. Your reviews will be the definitive document on that decade.

  11. Todd – I don’t know if invincibility make a revenge-hero more sadistic, but it certainly makes the movie less exciting. I was hugely disappointed in The Crow, and yeah, I hated the sidekick and the whole flipping-the-egg bullshit with her mom and the “onions make me fart” shit. Which I know is a tiny part and I’m sounding like CGI Gopher complainers, but that part sticks out for me and I’ve only seen this movie once in the theatre when it came out (still remember it was a Friday the 13th, b/c some guy got killed in a bike accident right outside the theatre!)

    Was also disappointed in the lack of martials arts (my own expectations there), the repetitive structure (isn’t he fucking done killing everyone yet??), and by the time this movie came out, I was already done with lead villains in comic book movies falling from high places. But there’s definitely some good stuff in there – and that soundtrack is KILLER. Everyone I knew back then had The Crow and the Judgment Night Soundtrack. I pray today’s kids aren’t sitting around extolling the virtues of Fast and Furious: The Sountrack, but they probably are.

    Majestyk – Glad to know someone else out there loves Rapid Fire as much as me. It’s HUGELY under-rated, and a perfect small-scale B-movie. I’ll reserve comments because I truly hope Vern writes a review of it.

    RRA – What do you think Crow-Sting whispered in people’s ears before he hit the scorpion death drop? I love that it was never revealed.

  12. The scene where Lee hits the rooftop and wails on a guitar before smashing it always sent my teenaged, wanna be guitarist heart aflutter. Now I find it funny. Weird how time changes things. I still think this movie is pretty dope, though. Dope and phat. (since we’re talkin 90s)

  13. I think if you weren’t a teenager in the 90s (and I wasn’t (well I was 13 for the last 26 days)) “Empire Records” is pretty much unbearable. “Reality Bites” too. Or at least this is how I felt about these movies.

  14. You’ll love this story Pacman – me and my friends were all set to see On Deadly Ground after school, and Reality Bites came out on the same day. Suddenly my douche-y friends decided it was cooler to see Reality Bites instead. And these were dudes. Who were huge Seagal fans. I have no idea what got into them and why they were suddenly posessed w/ the desire to watch a brooding Gen-Y Pretty in Pink retread, but I basically threw a shitfit in the theatre and acted like a bitch till I got my way. And I’ve never regretted it since.

  15. Sometimes it takes a real man to be a total bitch.

  16. I remember that, not long after this came out, there were tons of kids online with CROW inspired screen names!

  17. The Nightmare Before Christmas thing is amazing, with the kids eating up all the merchandising and not, often, having even seen the film. I really like The Crow though, or did last time I checked long ago, and the soundtrack has some great songs on it.

  18. I once met a grown woman who was dressed head to toe in Nightmare Before Christmas gear, including some kind of rubber pantsuit. It was a sweltering New York City summer night, so I can only imagine that she was losing three or four pounds of water weight every 15 minutes.

    The moral of the story is, she was a fucking idiot.

  19. Oh yeah, I forgot about Reality Bites. Another movie that’s saturated with ninetiesness. I remember at the time thinking that there were two types of people, Reality Bites people and Singles people. You couldn’t like both, a side had to be taken.

  20. Seems like neal2zod and I are On Deadly Ground people.

  21. I thought everyone was an On Deadly Ground person.

  22. On a similar note, my friends’ band was playing at some hole-in-the-wall club out in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut a few months after The Crow came out. My friends and I were just about the only people there, so some ‘zine writer came up to interview us about the local “scene.” He was completely and utterly dressed like the Crow, facepaint, pleather jacket, and all. He looked like he was in the Miramax portion of the Disneyworld parade. But the funny thing was, he took it completely seriously and expected us to regard him as a normal human being who wasn’t dressed up like the hero of a movie he just saw. Why are Goths the only people who think that it’s completely okay to wear a Halloween costume based on a fictional character in their daily lives? You don’t see horror fans dressing up like Jason or Freddy just to go to the bank or something.

  23. I loved The Crow soundtrack. Lots of great bands on it. This movie came out when I was in high school but I wasn’t allowed to see it because it was rated R and I was a mormon. I’ve since caught parts of it on TV but it has never really appealed to me.

    As for Brandon Lee: I recently caught Rapid Fire on Encore. That is an amazingly bad film. Anyone who hasn’t seen it needs to watch it just for Powers Booth’s over-the-top cop character. It also has some pretty dope shootouts and lots of soft lens moments. Did you review this, Vern? For some reason I can’t access your old reviews on this new site.

  24. I can get to them now. Must have been a glitch on my end.

  25. Surprising review, I still like this movie. I would actually put this in the category of one of my favorites. I love the atmosphere and the overacting villains. I think if you look at while thinking about columbine you probably would take the movie the wrong way. I don’t watch Death Wish and think about Bernard Goetz or Taxi Driver thinking about John Hinckley, Jr. . The Crow takes place in what is basically an alternate reality and is a complete fantasy. It’s a great movie with a very good performance by Brandon Lee and one that seems very close to Heath Ledgers joker performance.

  26. BTW, has anybody watched Proyas’ “Garage Days”? That was an independent comedy that he did between “Dark City” and “I, Robot”. I got the DVD here for ages, but for any reason didn’t find the time to watch it yet (together with the around 300 other DVDs that I bought over the years, without having the time to watch them.)

  27. I’ve seen Garage Days – I was intrigued that it was a struggling rock band comedy that was said to have “strong sexual content” on the cable guide. I remember there being some inventive scenes and camerawork (it wasn’t as generic, as say, Linklater’s work in School of Rock), but it was just meh. I hate to say it, but I’ve never seen an Australian comedy that works for me. (Young Einstein, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, etc…) I think Australian comedy gets lost in translation in a way Australian action doesn’t.

  28. Hey Vern,

    Just out of curiosity, what have you got against Ernie Hudson?

  29. Ernie Hudson’s performance in The Crow is Oscar worthy if you use Congo as your starting point.

  30. Unfortunately I’ve seen Garage Days. I honestly can’t watch Proyas’s films the same way any more. Every time I see the guys name I think “the guy who did Garage Days”.

    If I were you I would throw the disc and never think about it again.

  31. i saw this more than once in the theater when it cam out, which was rare for me. i use the line “look… what you’ve done… to my sheets” at least once a month. it seemed like a fantastic revenge film when i first saw it, but looking back it seems pretty sad–it’s wish fulfillment for someone who was completely unable to respond at a pivotal moment, getting to turn the tables and be invincible. which is of course the origin of the comic. but brandon lee was amazingly cool. never forget the shot of him stalking into the cathedral at the end. thanks for reviewing this one vern.

  32. I always heard that Lee’s on-set “accident” was actually some kind of Yakuza hit or something. Like they didn’t like that he and his father were using martial arts in movies? It was all kind of vaguely explained to me by a series of questionable characters while I was working at a video store. Anyone know if there’s any truth to that?

  33. Alex Proyas explained in an interview, that the production was at that time already way over budget* and someone made the bad decision to save money on a weapon handler (or whatever the right term for this job is. The man on set who knows how weapons work). For a close up, they had to load a gun with some real bullets, but when they filled it for the next scenes with blanks, there was one of the real bullets still stuck in the barrell. If they would have had someone who knew how to handle weapons right, he would have checked that. But so the blank hit the real bullet in the barrell when fired, and shot it at Brandon Lee.
    That’s at least the version of the story that I know.

    *Because of the impressive visuals and all the story’s of the CGI Lee, that was used after his death to complete some scenes, people forget that it was just a low budget film.

  34. That Yakuza story was actually the Triads, and it was the rumor that circulated about Bruce’s death, not Brandon’s.

  35. neal2zod – What he did he whisper?

    “Psst, Hogan can wrestle better than you.”

  36. as a 11-13 yr old i would tell you this was my favourite movie. there wasn’t a question in my mind. i probably still know every line of dialogue, even though it’s been years since i last watched it. for the record I also hated the silly goth kids at school who claimed they could connect to the character, and blah blah blah. wankers.

    sorry you didn’t like it Vern, for me the nostalgia is turned all the way up to 11 here, and there’s no way I could possibly look at it objectively.

    fuck, i should watch this movie again.

  37. sorry for the double post, but i forgot to commend you for reviewing films featuring my all time favourite soundtracks. someone’s riffling through my collection. if i see a Lost Highway review next I’ll know something’s up.

  38. Christian Brimo

    July 17th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    “Anyway, as bad as the bad guys are, as much as they deserve it, it still comes off as a pretty sadistic fantasy. He has magic powers. They shoot him and nothing happens, he just makes fun of them for trying. They’re fish in a barrel. He torments them like a kid picking on animals. It’s not until the end that the movie introduces the idea that he could lose his invincibility, so there’s not much tension about him pulling it off or not, it’s just “ha ha, take that, bad guy.””

    Yeah… i saw this weird Blaxplotation voodoo revenge film that had the same problem. This chick just raised zombies and killed evil white people with no opposition until the movie ended

    and yeah i HATED Garage Days. i hang around the inner city Sydney rock and roll scene and in addition to being unfunny and forced and kinda stupid it just felt unrealistic, tho i did like how the ‘climax’ wasn’t ‘they’re the biggest band in the world’ but ‘they play an opening spot at Homebake’, which isn’t really that big

    i dunno maybe things were different in the 90s

  39. Vern, I have been following you for years and just realized that it seems you have never reviewed “Last Prayer of the Rollerboys” I would be curious to hear your thoughts so I humbly submit that film as one to consider for review.

  40. Yo Vern…

    since you reviewed this thing, I feel obligated to wonder again if you might review “Watchmen” when it comes out on DVD. If you ever do fulfill my dream and write a full book on nerd cinema, you’ll have to watch it anyway… and, despite my problems with it, its an absolutely unique movie which I think you’d have a lot to say about. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can at least promise you its worth your time, and I think a review from your perspective would be a fresh and worthwhile perspective.

  41. Darckitydarkcitydarkcitydarkcitydarkciy…please?

  42. Strangely enough I just saw this again for the first time in years a few weeks ago and also felt it had not aged well. It used to be my favorite film when I was 15 or so, now it seems kind of empty and not well thought out.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t a teenager until way into the OO’s so I was alone in my love for the movie as most kids my age were more obsessed with Family Guy and Donnie Darko. Anyway I did love it an remembered it as being really deep which it isn’t at all. On the plus side I got a chance to rewatch Dark City recently and that is one movie that has aged well. If anything I like it more than I used to. Filled with some plotholes that no one ever seems to bring up but I didn’t mind because the movie was so beautiful and filled with such huge ideas. I wonder if the movie would have the reputation it does if it had been a big success at the box-office. Not sure if it could withstand a Dark Knight style nitpicking.

  43. Marlow: CONGO was an ugly mess for all concerned, and Hudson will one day stand before his maker and atone for that accent.

    I’ve no huge feelings for him one way or the other, but Vern’s line implied that he had some history with the guy or something.

    Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

  44. No, no grudge against Ernie Hudson, I just associate him mostly with cheesy movies like THE SUBSTITUTE. But then again I’ve been meaning to watch that one again because I remember it as pretty much the greatest concept for a movie possible (inner city teacher movie meets Seagal movie).

    By the way, I looked up the writer of the comic on wikipedia, his fiancee was actually killed by a drunk driver, not murdered like in the story. But it’s a real bum out reading about him because he made the comic to deal with that tragedy and then wished he never wrote it when Brandon Lee died too. And it says he felt guilty making money off the movie so he gave it to charity.

  45. RE: CJ Holden

    “(Same with “Nightmare Before Christmas”. Or when teenaged potheads took “Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas” and “The Big Lebowski”, like they were Cheech & Chong movies.)”

    What about guys like me? I’m NAMED after Hunter S. Thompson and I watched NMBC 300+ times when I was 6-7 years old. Am I allowed to still love those movies?

  46. Yeah James O’Barr I think. He had a really sad life and when he finally found someone that made him happy she died.

  47. Hunter, you can watch every movie as much as you want. It just drives me insane when emo kids wear Jack Skellington Shirts, because “they feel the sadness of the character” (Really?) or if you treat “Fear & Loathing” like it would be “Half Baked” and reduce it to a string of “Ha ha, he is high” jokes.
    (And even than you can watch them, but please don’t rub it in my face.)

  48. I would be careful about interpreting the motives of every kid wearing a Jack Skeleton shirt though. Unless you’re quizzing every one of them. In the ’70s and ’80s alot of people wore that same Mickey Mouse shirt but it would be stupid to get mad at them. It’s a part of our culture. I mean, who doesn’t like that movie anyway? Little skeletons running around, everybody loves that shit. I don’t think you should take it personally.

    That said I don’t know what the fuck is up with the eyeliner and those god damn skinny pants.

  49. It’s not when someone just wears a Skellington shirt. It’s when I see all these kids, completely in Goth outfit, with pale face make up, eyeliner, black lipstick AND a Jack Skellington! It just tells me that they a.) didn’t understood the movie or b.) have no idea about being Goth and are maybe just wearing it to be cool.

  50. A few years back, my friends and I rented all of the Substitute movies the store had (1, 2, and 3) on the strength of having nearly choked laughing at the first one. The third one wasn’t good or very funny, but the second one completely slayed me. It has this very clear moment where they’ve decided that the setup is over and they’re going to start the movie proper [not really a spoiler, but a good moment]: the hero walks towards a car involved in a drive-by, somersaults, and breaks a gunman’s arm. If there’s one thing and one thing only you can give Treat Williams over Seagal, it’s probably that completely unnecessary somersault.

    It’s always interesting to see a series where the second movie is better than the first (though this is often because the only way is up for some series). If you ever see Deathstalker, you have to follow it up with Deathstalker II. Deathstalker III is maybe slightly better than the first, but still not very good. Maybe there are better things to watch than the Deathstalker series.

    As for the Crow’s invincibility, I think it’s still possible to have a lot of tension with an effectively invincible character if it’s done right. I mean, take the movie Ghost and forget almost everything about it for a moment. Patrick Swayze’s situation is actually sort of interesting: it’s basically impossible for his enemies to perceive or affect him, but he can’t affect them much either and has his wife to protect. You can get a lot of tension out of a story where the protagonist isn’t in physical danger but has something incredibly important at stake. I’m not necessarily saying that the Crow got this right, but it is a wrinkle in his revenge worth a moment’s thought. How much of his murder spree was motivated by stopping his enemies before they could kill more people?

  51. CJ Holden, I thinkyou’re wrong about how the accident happened. They didn’t use real bullets in the movie. What happened was that they had fired blanks out of the pistol and some of the wadding got stuck in the barrel. No one checked the barrel between takes, and when they fired at Brandon for the next take, the wadding flew out and killed him. The shouldn’t
    t have pointed the gun directly at him. But the way you describe is basically impossible, a real bullet isn’t going to get stuck in a barrel.

    I love this movie and don’t care that the character’s invincible. This movie isn’t really about “tension” in the regard of whether or not the hero will be killed…it’s about the inevitability of what’s coming, and I think that makes it better and kind of more poignant.

    And Todd G is right…Crow is as tension-filled as the average Punisher, Seagal, Van Damme movie, etc…you know the hero is going to make it, and hell, Brandon Lee takes more punishment in the last few minutes of The Crow than Seagal has in his entire career. Has Seagal been punched moe the four or five times in all of his movies combined?

  52. With the risk of being executed, but I actually like The Crow II better. After all, it has an insanely OTT-Iggy Pop in it. Plus an early appearance by Thomas Jane (whom has an excellent death scene).

  53. Iggy Pop’s in Crow II?

    Did not know that. Although I will always most fondly remember him for his bath scene in “Crybaby” I guess I’ll have to check that fucker out now.

  54. Wasn’t CROW 2 the one that was horribly fucked up by the studio in post-production?

    It would explain why the movie makes absolutely not much sense at all.

  55. I heard that there is a Director’s Cut of Crow 2 available, which makes more sense. But I haven’t seen it.
    And as much as I enjoy Iggy Pop as a musician, for any reason I REALLY enjoy him as actor. He is not a great one, but always fun to watch. (Also in the one Star Trek: DS9 episode, where he is in. He plays the most sickly looking Vorta ever…)

  56. I can see where Thomas is coming from – part of me likes Crow II better as well. It’s definitely sloppier and not as artistic as part I, but it works on a simple, primal level for me in ways The Crow didn’t. I guess it’s like how people really connected with the simplicity of Taken earlier this year. And for some reason I sympathized with the lead in Crow II more, which is odd since I was a HUGE Brandon Lee fan.

    Bonus Points for Hole’s “Gold Dust Woman”, one of the best cover-for-a-movie-soundtrack songs ever.

  57. I always thought The Crow owed a pretty big debt to that crappy eighties film, Wraith. Except the Crow didn’t have a magic ghost car.

  58. Nick Cave has been brought in to rewrite the script to a CROW remake? That is kinda the best idea ever, except for the remaking part. Also check out the awesome description of his proposed GLADIATOR sequel.

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/45928

  59. It’s funny RRA mentioned professional wrestler Sting using the character as a way to re-invent his gimmick. More recently in TNA, his gimmick was clearly (and painfully) more based on Ledger’s Joker. Hopefully he’s seen DRIVE and can dye his hair blonde again, ditch the makeup and come out wearing a jacket with the scorpion on the back.

  60. Knox Harrington

    August 4th, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Thanks for that link, Vern.

    Can’t help thinking you would have enjoyed this more if you didn’t have Death Wish on the brain while watching this.

  61. Isn’t it weird that all 3 Crow Sequels recycled the female psychic/sorceress/witch character Bai Ling played in The Crow? Yes, even part 3 where the bad guys are all dirty cops, one of the cops is inexplicably a hot witch-cop. I suspect it’s mainly for exposition reasons, (i.e. to inform the bad guy that he needs to hurt the Crow’s pet bird to hurt the man – and yes, this happens in all 4 movies)

    Yet none of the sequels recycled the Ernie Hudson character, who I think is surprisingly the most missed ingredient (after the production design of course). Rewatching Crow 1 after the other 3 made me realize how nice it is to have a sympathetic, grounded, regular-guy character, especially in a series where the main hero is always pretty underdeveloped and doesn’t have much interesting dialogue besides poetry and one-liners. I guess it’s like how The Prequels suffered a bit from not having a Han Solo character.

    Anyways, yeah The Crow still isn’t that great of a movie but I can see why people like it. It looks cool, the soundtrack is fun, and Michael Wincott’s main bad guy (who I didn’t care for back then) is better than most bad guys today. At the end of the day it’s a nice time capsule of the 90s, even though yeah, it’s definitely no Rapid Fire.

  62. Michael Massee passed away.

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