The Crow (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Proyas|
|Produced by||Jeff Most
Edward R. Pressman
|Screenplay by||David J. Schow
|Based on||The Crow
by James O'Barr
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Dov Hoenig
M. Scott Smith
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||102 min.|
|Box office||$144,693,129 (worldwide)|
The Crow is a 1994 American supernatural/action film directed by Alex Proyas, written by David J. Schow and John Shirley, and starring Brandon Lee. It was based on the 1989 comic book of the same name by James O'Barr. This was Brandon Lee's final film; he died on March 31, 1993 from an injury sustained during filming.
The film tells the story of Eric Draven (Lee), a rock musician who is revived from the dead to avenge his own murder, as well as that of his fiancée.
The film opened at the top of the box office and was a critical and commercial success.
On October 30, Devil's Night in Detroit, Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is at the scene of a crime, where Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) has been beaten and violated, and her fiancé, guitarist Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), has been stabbed, shot, and thrown out of the window. The couple were to be married the next day, on Halloween. As he leaves for the hospital with Shelly, Albrecht meets a young girl, Sarah (Rochelle Davis), whom Shelly and Eric took care of because her mother Darla (Anna Levine) is a negligent drug addict. Albrecht tells her that Shelly will be okay, but Sarah knows the truth: Shelly is going to die.
Exactly one year later, Sarah visits Eric's grave, and a crow taps on Eric's headstone. Later that night, Eric awakens from death and climbs frantically out of his grave, trembling and wracked with convulsions. Eric goes to his old apartment and finds it derelict. He has flashbacks of his death, remembering that he and Shelly were murdered by local thugs T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), Tin-Tin (Laurence Mason), Funboy (Michael Massee), and Skank (Angel David). Eric soon discovers that any wounds he suffers heal immediately, and that he, being dead, is now immune to physical harm. He then replaces his burial clothes with dark, imposing attire, and paints his face in a parody of a porcelain harlequin mask, decorating his lips and eyes with black, scar-like slashes. Guided by the crow, he sets out to avenge his and Shelly's deaths.
The crow helps Eric locate Tin-Tin. They engage in a one-on-one alley fight, which Eric wins by stabbing Tin-Tin with all of his own knives. He takes his coat, leaving a large crow-shaped bloodstain on the wall of the alley. He then goes to the pawn shop where Tin-Tin pawned Shelly's engagement ring the year before. Eric forces the owner, Gideon (Jon Polito), to return the ring and blows up the shop, but allows Gideon to live so that he can warn the others.
Eric finds Funboy getting high on morphine in an apartment with Darla. Funboy shoots him in the hand and watches in horror as the wound closes up before his eyes. Eric then disarms him and shoots him in the thigh. Eric then places Funboy in the tub and confronts a hysterical Darla, grabbing her arm and showing her the reflection of her track marks in the mirror as the morphine pushes its way back out of her arm. Eric tells her to quit drugs in order to be a good mother to Sarah. Seeing Darla flee the bar, Grange (Tony Todd) then goes upstairs to investigate, finding Funboy lying on the floor and dying from having multiple syringes stabbed into his chest. Eric visits Albrecht, explaining his rebirth and mission. Albrecht tells him that he watched as Shelly suffered for 30 hours before dying, and that he was demoted for asking too many questions about the crime. Eric touches Albrecht's face, and all the pain and memories of Shelly's death are transferred to Eric. Gideon goes to warn Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), the local crime boss and T-Bird's superior, who thinks Gideon is making it all up and kills him by stabbing him in the throat with a rapier.
As T-Bird and Skank stop at a convenience store to get some supplies, Eric arrives and kidnaps T-Bird. Skank follows the pair and sees Eric as he ties T-Bird to the driver's seat of a car, straps explosives to him, and lets the car drive off the pier, where it explodes in mid-air, killing T-Bird. Eric leaves a fiery symbol in the shape of a crow burning at the scene. Meanwhile, Sarah and her mother begin to repair their relationship. Sarah goes to Eric's old apartment and tells him that she misses him and Shelly. Eric explains that, even though they cannot be friends anymore, he still cares about her. Top Dollar and his lover/half-sister Myca (Bai Ling) have become aware of Eric's actions through various reports from witnesses. He holds a meeting with his associates where they discuss new plans for their Devil's Night crime spree. Eric arrives at the meeting, looking for Skank. Top Dollar orders his men to shoot Eric, and a massive gunfight ensues. Top Dollar escapes with Myca and Grange, while Eric systematically kills everyone in the room, throwing the last, Skank, out of a window to his death.
Eric, having finished his quest, returns to his grave. Sarah goes to say goodbye to him and he gives her Shelly's engagement ring. She is then abducted by Grange, who takes her into a nearby church where Top Dollar and Myca are waiting. Through the crow, Eric realizes what has happened and goes to the church to rescue her. Grange shoots the crow as it flies into the church, causing Eric to lose his invincibility. Just after Top Dollar shoots and wounds Eric, Albrecht arrives, intending to pay his respects to Eric, and a shootout ensues in which Grange is killed. Myca then grabs the wounded crow, intending to take its mystical power. Top Dollar ties Sarah up and climbs the bell tower with Myca. Albrecht and Eric approach the stairs, and Myca fires down at them, seriously wounding Albrecht.
When Albrecht is wounded, Eric climbs to the roof of the church on his own. On the way up, he encounters Myca, who tells him that all of the power that he ever had will soon be hers. However, just before she is about to shoot Eric, the crow escapes Myca's grip and pecks out her eyes, and then she tumbles down the bell tower to her death. Eric reaches the roof of the church and fights Top Dollar, and thanks to his weakened condition he is defeated and run-through by his foe's sword. With Eric down, Top Dollar admits ultimate responsibility for what happened to Eric and Shelly. He is about to deal a fatal blow to Eric, but Eric lunges forward and gives him the 30 hours of pain that Shelly suffered — which he absorbed from Albrecht — by squeezing his eyes in with his thumbs; the sensation overwhelms Top Dollar and sends him flying off the roof of the church to be impaled on the horns of a gargoyle. Eric makes his way to Shelly's grave next to his, where he and Shelly reunite in death.
Sarah pays a final visit to the cemetery, and sees that both Eric and Shelly's graves now lie undisturbed. The crow, perched on Eric's headstone, gives her Shelly's engagement ring, dropping it in her open hand before soaring over the city and into the night.
- Brandon Lee as Eric Draven/The Crow
- Rochelle Davis as Sarah
- Ernie Hudson as Sgt. Albrecht
- Michael Wincott as Top Dollar
- Bai Ling as Myca
- Sofia Shinas as Shelly Webster
- Anna Levine as Darla
- David Patrick Kelly as T-Bird
- Angel David as Skank
- Laurence Mason as Tin-Tin
- Michael Massee as Funboy
- Tony Todd as Grange
- Jon Polito as Gideon
- Bill Raymond as Mickey
- Marco Rodríguez as Torres
Death of Brandon Lee 
On March 31, 1993, at EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, Brandon Lee sustained an accidental gunshot wound on the set of the film. He was taken to an area hospital, where he later died. There were eight days left before shooting of the film was to be completed. The scenes involving Lee and Sofia Shinas' characters in their apartment had been saved for the end of filming so that Lee could work the final week without makeup. In the story, Lee's character Eric Draven comes home to find a gang of thugs raping his girlfriend, and he is shot and killed by Michael Massee's character Funboy.
Weeks prior to the event, a scene had been filmed that required shells to be shown being loaded into the handgun. Rather than using dummy rounds, inexperienced crew members, pressured by time constraints, purchased live ammunition, removed the bullets, dumped the gunpowder, and then replaced the bullets back into the empty cartridges with the live primers still in place. Unbeknownst to the crew, the bullet from one of the rounds became lodged in the barrel of the gun. It is believed that someone on set was playing with the gun, pulled the trigger and inadvertently caused the live primer to fire; this would have resulted in the bullet moving a couple of inches into the barrel of the gun.
When the time came to film the scene where Funboy shoots Eric, the same gun was loaded with blank cartridges. As the production company had sent the firearms specialist home early, responsibility for the guns was given to a prop assistant who was not aware of the rule for checking all firearms before and after any handling. Therefore, the barrel was not checked for obstructions when it came time to load it with the blank rounds. When the gun was fired, the propellant in the blank round – which is used to give the visible effect of a gunshot – dislodged the bullet and propelled it through Lee's abdomen and into his spine, where it lodged. The injury caused massive blood loss.
Soon after the accident, Lee was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, where he died about 12 hours later, at 1:04 p.m. After Lee's death, the producers were faced with the decision of whether or not to continue with the film. Sofia Shinas, who had witnessed the accident, did not want to continue and went home to Los Angeles. The rest of the cast and crew, except for Ernie Hudson, whose brother-in-law had just died, stayed in Wilmington. Paramount, who were initially interested in distributing The Crow theatrically (originally a direct-to-video feature), opted out of involvement due to delays in filming and some controversy over the violent content being inappropriate given Lee's death. However, Miramax picked it up with the intention of releasing it in theatres and injected a further $8 million to complete the production, taking its budget to approximately $23 million. The cast and crew then took a break for script rewrites of the flashback scenes that had yet to be completed.
The Crow was well received by critics; review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a "fresh" rating of 83% based on 40 reviews. Reviewers praised the action and visual style. Rolling Stone called it a "dazzling fever dream of a movie", Caryn James writing for The New York Times called it "a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth", and Roger Ebert called it "a stunning work of visual style". The Los Angeles Times praised the movie also.
Lee's death was alleged to have a melancholy effect on viewers; Desson Howe of The Washington Post wrote that Lee "haunts every frame" and James Berardinelli called the film "a case of 'art imitating death', and that specter will always hang over The Crow". Berardinelli called it an appropriate epitaph to Lee, Howe called it an appropriate sendoff, and Ebert stated that not only was this Lee's best film, but it was better than any of his father's (Bruce Lee). Critics generally thought that this would have been a breakthrough film for Lee, although James disagreed. The changes made to the film after Lee's death were noted by reviewers, most of whom saw them as an improvement. Howe said that it had been transformed into something compelling. James, although terming it a genre film, said that it had become more mainstream because of the changes.
The film was widely compared to other films, particularly Tim Burton's Batman movies and Blade Runner. Critics described The Crow as a darker film than the others; Ebert called it a grungier and more forbidding story than those of Batman and Blade Runner, and Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the generic inner city of Detroit portrayed in The Crow "makes Gotham City look like the Emerald City".
The distinctive features of the film for most critics were the fast-paced action and visual style. The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski and the production design by Alex McDowell were praised. While the plot and characterization were found to be lacking, these faults were considered to be overcome by the action and visual style. The cityscape designed by McDowell and the production team was described by McCarthy as rendered imaginatively. The film's comic book origins were noted, and Ebert called it the best version of a comic book universe he had seen. McCarthy agreed, calling it "one of the most effective live-actioners ever derived from a comic strip". Critics felt that the soundtrack complemented this visual style, calling it blistering, edgy and boisterous. Graeme Revell was praised for his "moody" score; Howe said that it "drapes the story in a postmodern pall."
Negative reviews of the film were generally similar in theme to the positive ones but said that the interesting and "OK" special effects did not make up for the "superficial" plot, "badly-written" screenplay and "one-dimensional" characters.
Box office 
The film grossed $50,693,129 in the United States, $94,000,000 worldwide. In the United States, it opened at #1 with $11,774,332 in its opening weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, it ranked at 24 for all films released in the US in 1994 and 10 for R-rated films released that year.
In 1995, Graeme Revell won a BMI film music award for his score and the Stone Temple Pilots won the MTV Movie Award for Best Song for "Big Empty". Also at the MTV Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Best Film, and Brandon Lee was nominated for Best Male Performance. The film received four Saturn Award nominations from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, for Best Costumes, Best Director, Best Horror film and Best Special Effects.
The original soundtrack album for The Crow features songs from the film, and was a chart-topping album. It included work by The Cure (their song, "Burn", became the film's main theme), The Jesus and Mary Chain, Rage Against the Machine, and Helmet, among many others.
Several groups contributed covers. Nine Inch Nails rendered Joy Division's "Dead Souls", Rollins Band covered Suicide's "Ghost Rider", and Pantera performed Poison Idea's "The Badge". The song "Big Empty" was not the Stone Temple Pilots' original choice for the soundtrack. They first recorded a version of "Only Dying", which they had recorded earlier as Mighty Joe Young in demo form, but it was replaced following Lee's death.
In 1996, a sequel was released, called The Crow: City of Angels. In this movie, Vincent Pérez plays Ashe Corven, who, along with his son Danny, is killed by criminals. Ashe is resurrected as a new Crow. The character of Sarah (Mia Kirshner) reappears in this film and assists Ashe. The film was followed by a television series and two direct-to-video sequels, each with a different person as The Crow.
The Crow: Stairway to Heaven was a 1998 Canadian television series created by Bryce Zabel and starring Mark Dacascos in the lead role as Eric Draven, reprising the role originally played by Brandon Lee.
The second sequel, The Crow: Salvation, was released in 2000. Directed by Bharat Nalluri, it stars Eric Mabius, Kirsten Dunst, Fred Ward, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and William Atherton. It is loosely based on Poppy Z. Brite's novel The Lazarus Heart. After its distributor cancelled the intended theatrical release due to The Crow: City of Angels receiving negative critical reception, The Crow: Salvation was released directly to video with mixed reviews.
The third sequel, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, was released in 2005. Directed by Lance Mungia, it stars Edward Furlong, David Boreanaz, Tara Reid, Tito Ortiz, Dennis Hopper, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Danny Trejo. It was inspired by Norman Partridge's novel of the same title. It had a one-week theatrical première on June 3, 2005, at AMC Pacific Place Theatre in Seattle, Washington, before being released to video on July 19, 2005. Like the other sequels to the cult movie, it had a poor critical reception, and it was considered the worst of the four films.
On December 14, 2008, Stephen Norrington announced in Variety that he planned to write and direct a "reinvention" of The Crow. Norrington distinguished between the original and his remake: "Whereas Proyas' original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style." Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media is currently negotiating with Edward R. Pressman for both the film's rights and financing.
Norrington later stepped out of the project and, on April 7, 2011, it was announced that 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo had been chosen to direct the film, which has since been regarded as a reboot. Relativity Media's Tooley will serve as executive producer, while Jose Ibanez, Jon Katz and Jesus de la Vega will serve as co-producers. Bradley Cooper was in talks to play the lead. It was reported on April 20, 2011, that the project is undergoing some legal battles. In late June 2011, Relativity Media announced their plans to continue in mid-lawsuit and had tapped Alex Tse, who co-wrote the film adaptation of Watchmen. In mid-August 2011, it was announced that Cooper had dropped out due to scheduling difficulties and Mark Wahlberg, who was originally in talks for the lead in 2010, is up for the part, with additional rumors of Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling possibly taking the role, as well James McAvoy. In October 2011 it was reported that Fresnadillo had departed the project as well. It was confirmed in January 2012 that Francisco Javier Gutiérrez had signed on to direct the remake, with Edward R. Pressman and Jeff Most on producing duties. On April 1, 2012, it was announced as an April Fools' joke that Skrillex was going to be starring as Eric.
According to Edward R. Pressman, "The original 1994 Crow film holds a special place in my heart. The current film is a 'reinvention' of James O'Barr's graphic novel for the 21st century. We're thrilled to have teamed with director Javier Gutiérrez and screenwriter Jesse Wigutow on this story, which remains true to the core of Eric Draven's plight for revenge. Giving too much away wouldn't be any fun. 'Disorder, chaos, anarchy — now that's fun!'".
On the news of future remakes, O'Barr stated, "[...] I don't have great expectations. I think the reality is, no matter who you get to star in it, or if you get Ridley Scott to direct it and spend 200 million dollars, you're still not gonna top what Brandon Lee and Alex Proyas did in that first ten million dollar movie." On April 19, 2013, it was announced that Tom Hiddleston is in talks to play Eric. That same month, there were reports that Hiddleston is not doing the film but Alexander Skarsgård is being eyed for the part. A week later Skarsgård said he's not attached to the film.
Home video 
First released onto VHS in 1994. On October 18, 2011, The Crow was released on Blu-ray. The consensus among high-definition enthusiast sites is that the video and audio quality are excellent.
See also 
- Brennan, Judy (April 29, 1994), "Miramax's 'Crow' Quietly Takes Flight", Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (May 13, 1994), "How the Crow Flew", Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Conner & Zuckerman, pp. 35–36
- Brown, Dave, "Behind the Death of Brandon Lee", Dave Brown: Firearms Safety Specialist, retrieved March 12, 2011
- Howe, Desson (May 13, 1994), "'The Crow' (R)", The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Ebert, Roger (May 13, 1994), "The Crow", Chicago Sun-Times (Sun-Times Media Group), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Travers, Peter (May 11, 1994), "The Crow", Rolling Stone (Wenner Media), retrieved March 12, 2011
- James, Caryn (May 11, 1994), "Eerie Links Between Living and Dead", The New York Times (The New York Times Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Rainer, Peter (May 11, 1994), "Movie Review: 'The Crow' Flies With Grim Glee", Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Welkos, Robert W. (May 11, 1994), "Movie Review: Life After Death: A Hit in the Offing?", Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Berardinelli, James (1994), "Review: the Crow", ReelViews, retrieved March 12, 2011
- McCarthy, Todd (April 28, 1994), "The Crow", Variety (Reed Business Information), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Hicks, Chris (September 20, 2001), "The Crow", Deseret News (Deseret News Publishing Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- "The Crow", Montreal Film Journal, retrieved March 12, 2011
- "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time", Empire (Bauer Media Group), retrieved March 12, 2011
- Fox, David J. (May 16, 1994), "'The Crow' Takes Off at Box Office", Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company), retrieved March 12, 2011
- "The Crow (1994)", Box Office Mojo (Amazon.com), retrieved March 12, 2011
- "Content International's Film Library", Content International, archived from the original on April 7, 2008, retrieved March 12, 2011
- "Below Empty — Frequently Asked Questions", StoneTemplePilots.net, archived from the original on December 17, 2007, retrieved March 12, 2011
- The Crow: City of Angels at the Internet Movie Database
- Fleming, Michael (2008-12-14). "Norrington flies with 'Crow' franchise". Variety.
- The Crow Relaunch Moves Forward With Casting, i09, retrieved 2009-11-25
- Kit, Borys (April 7, 2011). "'The Crow' to Be Remade by '28 Weeks Later' Director". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "The Crow Flies Into A Legal Battle - The Playlist". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "BD Horror News - Lawsuit or Not, 'The Crow' Will Fly". Bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Kit, Borys (2011-08-15). "Bradley Cooper Exits 'The Crow' as Other Actors Circle (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Exclusive: We’ve Telepathically Learned Who May Star In ‘The Crow’!
- "James McAvoy to star in The Crow remake". The Independent. 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
- "Crow Reboot Left Without A Director". Screenrant.com. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "‘The Crow’ Reboot Snags New Director and Writer". Screenrant.com. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
- "Skrillex to star in remake of 'The Crow'". 1 April 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- "The Crow remake true to original, says producer". 28 June 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "O'Barr Resurrects "The Crow: Curare", Writes & Draws "Engines of Despair"". 15 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- 'Avengers' Star Tom Hiddleston in Early Talks to Lead Relativity's 'The Crow' (Exclusive)
- Alex Pettyfer In ‘50 Shades Of Grey’? Tom Hiddleston In ‘The Crow’? Dont Dress For Either
- ‘The Crow’ Flies With Luke Evans
- Luke Evans Updates on The Crow
- "The Crow - High-Def Digest". Bluray.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
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- Official website
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