The Crow (1994): Breakdown by Rantbo
Undead goth kills drug-dealing rapists with guns, knives, swords, morphine, grenades, gothic architecture and some poetic verbal nuance.
THE CROW. A movie so good, they’ve tried remaking it 5 times. Soon to be six. And one of those times was with Edward Furlong, Tara Reid and David Boreanaz. “Can’t rain all the time” my ass. But, there is some good news. Each one of these films has been exponentially less popular then it’s predecessor, rendering the last couple all but forgotten. And this gem by visionary director Alex Proyas was before all that buggery.
“People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.”
THE CROW follows one of these rare cases, Eric Draven. A young musician robbed of both his life and true love during a vicious act of violence enacted upon them by a thuggish group of anarchist scum on the night before their wedding, All Hollow’s Eve. One year later, Eric returns from the grave for sweet revenge. And as we all know, revenge is a dish best served with dreary tid-bits of gothic literature AND BLOOD.
Back in the day (the 90s) I wouldn’t have thought twice about giving this film a 10 outta 10, but re-watching it after another decade and having seeing the seeds it so casually sowed grow, it’s hard to forgive it for almost single-handedly creating a demand for Hot Topic stores and it’s overpriced junk movie merch that I wouldn’t even piss on for laughs. So, I’d say it sits around a 9 now. Unfair? Sure, it is. But this is my fucking review, not yours. And a 9 still ain’t too fuckin’ shabby.
To me, Alex Proyas is like a reserved, (far) more talented Tim Burton. He has the dark, skewed gothic style down pat, and delivers it without cramming his contacts and arty weirdness up your ass with Johnny Depp’s insufferable kooky tongue. And I appreciate that.
The powers that be chose wisely, in casting b-list, up-and-coming action star Brandon Lee to head-line. Having always played the short-haired, straight-laced guy, the proposition of Lee donning KISS make-up and a consistently wet mop of goth-rocker hair is an odd choice, but damn if it didn’t work. Add to this some tight leather pants, oversized hobo-boots and an ever (well, sorta*) badass leather trench coat, and you have a recipe for ass-kickery.
Combining the talents of Proyas and Lee, with an archetypal revenge killer story so simple, yet fresh and stylistically original, ended up creating dark magic. I don’t know anyone who didn’t think this movie was kick-ass back in ‘94 and I don’t know anyone now that doesn’t look back on it with fondness and positive wisps of nostalgia. The score is pitch-perfect in complimenting the visuals and even the whiny complaint rock inter-strewn throughout added to the atmosphere and didn’t annoy me. The set design is perfectly saturated and dark, much like it’s comicbook cousin film, BATMAN. The supporting cast is great, especially Michael Wincott (ROBIN HOOD, ALIEN: RESURRECTION) as the Kingpin, Top Dollar, and his lead enforcer and bane of Draven’s afterlife, T-Bird, played by action industry legend, David Patrick Kelly (THE WARRIORS, COMMANDO). And they even threw in a shotgun wielding Ernie Hudson for good measure. He came, he saw, he kicked some ASS! So, needless to say, I completely recommend this flick. It’s a Reese’s Peanutbutter Cup of THE MATRIX and DEATH WISH flicks and it’s not to be missed. Especially now before they no-doubt taint it’s existence with another sure-to-be-shitty re-make next year. Ah, well. At least there is one good version out there. “Can’t rain all the time…”
*Made before THE MATRIX sub-culture of brooding 23 yr-olds decided dressing in them was the ultimate “Fuck You!” to society, thus rendering them lame and ineffective. So having Lee sport one of his victim’s was still cool and bad-ass.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Brandon Lee is Eric Draven
“You are seriously fucked up. Would you look in the mirror? I mean, you need professional help!”
“So you’re him, huh? The Avenger. The Killer of Killers. Nice outfit. I’m not sure about the face, though.”
“What are you supposed to be? A clown or something?”
Lee had really begun to hit his stride and evolve out of his father’s well-toned shadow, and I think that had he survived this film, he would have been in a Keanu-after-The Matrix situation of new ground, status and opportunity. Would he have fucked it up like Reeves? Who knows, but I can’t help but think he would have been considered for the role of Neo, which is tragically thought provoking in and of itself.
As for the character, if Charles Bronson were a twenty-something emo-rocker, he’d be Eric Draven. And I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not. Paul Kersey is bad-ass, and Eric Draven is cool, despite the culture he wroth, so I think his defining adjective falls somewhere in-between.
On the downside, he’s a brooding, poetry spewing, furlong lover, but on the plus, Lee plays him as a fuckin’ psycho… Plus, he is impervious to all physical damage and possessed with a rockstar’s penchant for theatrics, and he never resists the urge to go apeshit on his girlfriend’s torturers… Alright, I’ve talked myself into it. Eric Draven is most definitely a bad-ass mother-fucker.
– Is undead.
– Played guitar for a band called Hangman’s Joke. And subsequently wrote himself one bad-ass piece of theme music, which he plays before trashing his one-man set. Totally METAL!
– Pioneer of Parkour.
– Bitchslaps an airborne knife away from his chest.
– Get shot, hundreds of times AND stabbed through the mid-section with a katana before becoming incapacitated.
– And, lest we forget, HE ROSE FROM THE GRAVE TO KILL THE BASTARDS THAT DARED FUCK WITH HIM!
[THE BODY COUNT: 31]
Draven sends 25 souls down to the pits of Hell in a grab-bag of gruesome ways. Watch. As for the other 6, you have Shelly and Eric (of course) then Top Dollar takes out Gideon the pawnshop owner and a whore, Ernie Hudson takes out Tony Todd and the Crow even gets a kill by blinding Dollar’s psycho bitch sister and causing her to fall down a bell-tower. Ding Dong!…
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Fun-Boy Takes His Shot(s)
Creeping in through the window of T-Bird’s resident heroin junky soldier’s 2nd floor apartment, Draven calls to Funboy as though he were a lost house pet, while rubbing his painted forehead in circles around the rooms hanging light bulb, successfully scaring the shit outta his prey. Fun-Boy pulls a gun and Draven pulls up a chair. Placing his palm on the pointed barrel, Draven tells him to “Take your shot, Funboy. You got me dead bang!”. Funboy does, but begins his celebration a little too soon, as Draven’s hand heals almost instantly while he laughs and hollers back to the now disconcerted junkie.
Funboy: “Jesus—Christ !”
Draven: “Jesus Christ? Stop me if you heard this one. Jesus Christ walks into a hotel…
Fun-Boy’s Gun: “BANG!”
Draven: “Ow. He hands the innkeeper three nails and he asks…”
Fun-Boy’s Gun: “BANG!”
Funboy: “Don’t chu ever fuckin’ die!”
Draven: “…could you put me up for the night!”
Then Draven proceeds to disarm Funboy and stab a handful of illicit-substance filled needles directly into his heart. MEH-TALL!!!
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
While he does meander around shirtless after unearthing himself, is more ripped than Jesus AND wears make-up and black leather, the fact remains that Draven is here on Earth to kill for his lost love. A woman. And a good looking one at that. But where this film lacks in gayness, it over exemplifies in unabashed degradation of all things feminine…
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Beginning with the beating, stabbing and raping of Shelly (Draven’s fiancé), ending with an evil sexual deviant getting her eyes torn outta her sockets by the crow, and enough in-between to make even the Little Rascals cry, this film is unrelenting.
The other women in the picture are Sarah, a young girl who was pretty much raised by Eric and Shelly (we know how that panned out); her mother, a barroom whore; some woman that gets sexually abused to death by Bai Ling and her brother (yes, BROTHER). And Ernie Hudson’s wife, seen only in a picture as she left him in the backstory.
So, lets do the math: Woman tortured and raped to death the day before her wedding + a sexual black-widow + a 48th trimester aborted girl + her druggie-slut mom + some dead skank + an apathetic, abandoner wife = One Bleak World For Womankind.
And I didn’t even mention the nudity…
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: …It’s A Lovely Way To Shop…
Draven crashes a dubious local pawnshop after learning it’s stock includes his dead fiance’s pawned engagement ring. And I mean, CRASHES it. After beating the scumbag owner, Gideon, and stabbing his hand to the counter, Draven regains his lost bobble and begins to soak every last inch of the store with petrol. All while lecturing Gideon about the lives he helped ruin by knowingly accepting stolen merchandise. On the way out, Draven grabs a shotgun and fills the barrel with the other stolen engagement rings, walks outside and discharges a round of diamond infused justice unto the building. Badda-BOOM, MOTHA-FUCKA!
That is some cold blooded shit to say to a dude seconds before you use his own knives to stab him in all his major organs. In alphabetical order, no less.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
I learned all sorts of stuff! For instance:
“This is the really real world, THERE AIN’T NO COMIN’ BACK!”
“Mother is name for God on the lips and hearts of all children… Morphine is bad for you.”
And onions make you fart. “Big time!”
[THE CHECKLIST: 19 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” [Brandon Lee]
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)*
[X] Manly Embrace(s)**
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Devil’s Night & Halloween]
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
*Facepaint? I’ll allow it.
**FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
The Crow (1994) © Crowvision, Inc. and Miramax/Dimension Home Entertainment