|Directed by:||Alex Proyas|
|Written by:||David J. Schow, John Shirley|
|Cast:||Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Ling Bai|
|Genre:||Action, Crime, Fantasy, Thriller|
This flick blows me away every time. I remember seeing it three times when it came out in the theaters, and watching it over and over again when it came out on video, but I guess that I had lost a little bit of its significance since. Thankfully, this revisit reconfirmed this film’s overall potency to me. Dressing up like the Crow for Halloween every year might’ve been one way for me to feel closer to this movie, but the truth of the matter is that this picture is about death, love and in tandem, the love of one which goes on even after death. Unfortunately, I had someone very close to me die recently (way before her time) so the resonance of this film skyrocketed ten-fold because of that tragedy. Crying in several scenes of this film was par for the course pour moi. But before I make this out to be a truly depressing movie, the truth of the matter is that it’s a well-established combination of genres, including horror, romance, thriller and action. Director Alex Proyas handles all of these elements like a champ and gives us plenty of character development and love before we start, then switches gears into an all-out thriller, with touches of horror and action spread throughout. The best thing about it all is that it’s actually able to balance all of these fundamentals successfully, bringing the love angle back into play to reestablish the film’s true spirit, the whole way through.
The man is pissed at these dudes because they killed both he and his fiancé the night before their wedding nuptials and seeks payback. Wouldn’t you want some revenge for that as well? Well, in this case, our main man, Brandon Lee, who in a very sad and ironic twist of real life, was also killed before his time (during the filming of this very movie), turns into a full-blown avenger, and takes each killer down one-by-one, while reliving the horrible day of his demise along the way. Now I’ve always been a fan of certain romance movies, in fact, some of my favorite films are based in that genre (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL…), but this movie really sold the idea of eternal love to me, more than any other. The music, the scenery, the rain, the darkness, the settings, the characters, the melancholic mood all around…every single part of this movie sold me on this man’s mission. Add that to the film’s quick pace, awesome directing choices (way too many slick scenes to mention), far-out soundtrack, energetic action sequences and tour-de-force performance by Lee, and you’ve got a movie that continues to pay dividends years after its release. It’s even got some light-hearted humor tossed in here and there to break the ice (“Our friend T-bird won’t be joining us this evening on account of a slight case of death.”)
Ernie Hudson also adds to the film’s authenticity with a solid showing as the town’s sole beat cop who connects to the Crow’s resurrection, and Rochelle Davis who plays a youthful presence in an adult movie, without the typically annoying kid-like ticks. Incidentally, it’s to note that this movie is based on a comic book and that its entire look and feel pays true homage to those origins. I’m also not usually fond of flashbacks in movies, but in this case, Proyas somehow made it work completely, with many scenes intercut and believable within the structure of the cinematic experience. The entire environment of the movie was also very distinct, with its grungy outdoors, shadowy alleys, smoke-filled streets and dirt, scum and loud music all around. And when you speak of music, there aren’t many other films during the 90s that, in my opinion, contained a more defined and complementary soundtrack, than this ball of wax. Trent Reznor was the man behind the compilation of this disc, and every single song, stroke and ballad, was ideally inserted within.
I’ve always felt like a gothic child myself, and I suppose that my continued fancy for black attire is a strange affectation that a shrink might be able to unravel for me one day, but for now, it goes without saying that movies such as this, generally rattle me on their stylings alone. But jolting someone is one thing, while a whole other accomplishment is delivering palpable emotions to your front door, and this film does just that as well. Not only does it entertain on the very basic visceral comic book level, with plenty of guns, fights, car chases and explosions to satisfy the less discriminating fans, but it also reinforces the necessary reminder about the preciousness of our time on Earth, the power of one’s love for another and the continued question mark about what happens to us after death. And if we can take anything away from this movie, it’s that our loved ones will never die as long as we continue to propagate their memory and spirit in our own hearts. To that, I say Amen and may God bless those loves ones who still live on in our hearts.
The coolest thing about this movie is its soundtrack. There are probably more than a dozen specific scenes that I believe to be “cool” in this flick, but since I’m trying to pick only one thing from each movie, the soundtrack from this one is second to none. I must’ve listened to it for three years straight while in college, and it continues to revisit the inside of my CD player every other week. The rage, the beauty, the powerful drills all fit into this film’s musical make-up as ideally as any other part of it does. And if you’ve gotten what needed to be transmitted from this film by its final frame, you are more than likely to doubly appreciate the peaceful transition to Jane Sibbery’s beautiful rendition of “It Can’t Rain All The Time” to top things off. I usually blubber by that point, but maybe that’s just me. Whatever the case, this soundtrack is definitely one of the coolest ones in my collection, and certainly, one of the cooler elements of this awesome flick.
Interesting tidbits about the film and its stars:
Actor Brandon Lee was accidentally killed during the filming of this movie during a shooting sequence. His father, legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee, also died under mysterious circumstances about 20 years before him. Bruce’s film, ENTER THE DRAGON, also cracked my list of coolest flicks. Director Alex Proyas was terribly distraught after the tragedy which occurred on his set, and took some time to move on to his next picture called DARK CITY, which is also on my list. The success of this film obviously required that certain parties involved continue to generate sequels (read: money) for its ongoing fan-base. Being one of the bigger fans of the original, I have seen the two follow-ups to this film, and strongly recommend that anyone who likes this movie, stay away from its sequels, since they are nothing but hollow shells of this one and might just taint your memory. Basically, they suck.
NOTE: This review was originally published in my 2002 book entitled "JoBlo.com presents...The 50 Coolest Movies of All-Time". Please note that these reviews are dated, and the book actually features my own PERSONAL list of faves from 1970-2000 or so.