The Crow

The Crow

1994, R, 100 min. Directed by Alex Proyas. Starring Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly, Rochelle Davis.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 13, 1994

First the bad news: The Crow has the thinnest plotting and characterizations of any recent film I can think of. As befits its comic-book origins, it's little more than a videographic series of flashy scenes strung together with the thinnest of motivations to make a Nineties-style industrial actioner. Now the good news: it rocks. There's no better way to put it. Brandon Lee's swan song is a kinetic, pounding, adrenalized feast for the senses, if not the psyche. Bursting with startling images, eclectic staging, and gorgeous neo-gothic set design (not to mention a brilliant, brooding soundtrack that, for once, actually feels like it belongs here), it looks and feels truer to its roots than any dozen Batmans or Dick Tracys. Lee plays musician, Eric Draven, who, one year to the day after his brutal murder and the murder/rape of his fiancee, returns to the land of the living to avenge the atrocities of crime boss Top Dollar (Wincott) and his gang of psychotic, drug-addled lackies. Plotwise, that's all she wrote, but director Proyas (previously known for his award-winning work on television commercials and music videos, and it shows) beats the remarkably bad odds -- Lee was killed three-quarters of the way through filming when a supposedly unloaded gun discharged on the set -- and turns in a genuinely affecting piece of Nineties-style film noir that, despite its overall transparency, has more going for it than 95 percent of the action/suspense drivel that passes for entertainment these days. Top-flight splatterpunk/cyberpunk authors David J. Schow and John Shirley's screenplay makes the most of the story's inherently gothic nature, simultaneously playing up both the undying love aspects of the story and The Crow's supernatural horror show themes. For his part, Lee's performance is striking, nuanced, and subtle. You get the feeling that Eric Draven would much rather be in the ground beside his betrothed, worms or not. He's a tired and tireless avenging angel, at once devoid of mercy toward his attackers and able to reach out to his living friends and comfort them as the proverbial city burns. Unlike the character he plays here, Lee is unfortunately gone for good; still, I can't think of a better epitaph to leave behind than this one.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Alex Proyas Films
Gods of Egypt
We already have a strong contender for the worst film of 2016

Steve Davis, March 4, 2016

It's up to Nicolas Cage to save the world in this movie about a man who deciphers a cryptic artifact that predicts major disasters, past and future.

Josh Rosenblatt, March 27, 2009

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022


The Crow, Alex Proyas, Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly, Rochelle Davis

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle