Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Crow (1994)

Devil's Night - Halloween Eve - is a night with a reputation of arson and murder for inner city Detroit. On this night Eric Draven and his fiance Shelly Webster were brutally murdered and she brutally raped. Leaving behind a grieving surrogate-esque daughter, Sarah, and a fearful city. The gang composed of TinTin, Skank, Funboy and T-Bird are free without even an arrest. A year later though the Crow, which has been said to carry you to the afterlife, brings back Draven in his grief. He seeks revenge on the four men who killed Shelly but is unbeknownst that the gang is part of a larger criminal empire run by the high class katana wielding Top Dollar. When Top Dollar finds out about Draven's invincibility and the Crow's powers he seeks after Draven with the only thing he has left, Sarah.

I'm not sure if it's because of the on set tragedy (Lee was accidentally shot in the making of the film) or just the somber context of the script but The Crow has a drear veil in its viewing. That's not to attest it as uninteresting but rather the opposite as I'm always drawn into the tenebrous subject matter in that it never fails to evoke emotions from me. The film borders revenge flick to Gothic thriller, tending to shy away from the more violent scenes, but not denying us the final product; the gun shoot out felt more like it belonged in a action film than it did with the rest. Towards the hour mark it drags some and I lose focus for a minute or two, whenever I watch it. And as goes the plot is a bit absent minded and one dimensional. But I've always attribute character to surpass plot and I love Draven's character so I could care less if the plot was less attended too. The special effects are not great, even for its time and likely standout the most in the film.

Inevitability praise for Lee's work has been questioned by the close occurrence of his death on set, similar to Heath Ledger's Joker, many claim that the only reason the film is known and his performance accredited is because of the tragic accident. I make no mistake in saying that's absolutely wrong, tragedy or not Brandon Lee is immense in the role of Eric Draven. The sinister clown exteriors the broken angel, both which make for a memorable character. Draven's one liners and his depression from his and Shelly's death create a character that is to stay with you, despite an unstable plot. Ernie Hudson is good at being Ernie Hudson...that's a little harsh, I honestly don't mean it as a negative. His self portrayed likable cop is a nice character to relax on, you always know he's going to be the good guy in that sense it relives the tension from the dark script. And Michael Wincott is great as the baleful Top Dollar. This is a Gothic visual stimuli in a more natural approach than Tim Burton's inspired work. The prominent color of black is painted on nearly everything but it never hides or darkens the screen. Instead it blends with the gray skies and red flashbacks to bleed a comely cinematographic show. Attribute to director Alex Proyas and director of Photography Dariusz Wolski, who I hold this to be his best work.

The film like most of my favorites is a beautiful flaw, not perfect but hits my right notes. I consider it a great piece similar to Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, not strong on plot but excels in character development and visuals. I love the soundtrack as well with a mix of rock songs and romantic scores to capture the dense sadness and angst. Another thing I picked up was Lee's usual of martial arts in his stance and actions. They didn't really need a stunt double as the martial arts expert was able to do most of the stunts himself. Not necessarily a martial arts fan (odd considering my favorite movie is Kill Bill Vol 2) but I love when it's present in outside genre films. The Crow conceived quite a bit of sequels and a TV spin off; the films holding under a five star rating on IMDB. I believe one of them even has Edward Furlong in it. I can't speak for the sequels as I have not seen them myself but the 1994 film The Crow is a stunning Gothic entry in the horror genre. A must watch but be weary of the black subject matter as it's not for a light viewing.

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