Brandon Lee as Eric Draven in The Crow

This Crow is Draven Mad

It's an unfortunate fact but when a star suddenly dies either whilst making a movie or before it's due to be released it inadvertently helps promote the movie, raising its profile. It happened a few years ago when Heath Ledger suddenly died before the release of "The Dark Knight" and it also happened back in the 90s when Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was accidentally killed whilst making "The Crow". Because of this a lot more people watched "The Crow" than probably would have and experienced what turned out not only to be a very good movie but in some ways a fitting epitaph to a young actor so often under-rated.

A year after Eric Draven (Brandon Lee - Rapid Fire) and his fiancée are brutally murdered on Devil's Night, by Top Dollar's (Michael Wincott) henchman, Tin-tin, Funboy, T-Bird and Skank, he returns from the dead. Having had his soul carried about by a crow for a year, Eric has unfinished business and now wants vengeance for his and his fiancée's death and sets about seeking out Tin-tin, Funboy, T-Bird and Skank. But when his friend from his past life Sarah (Rochelle Davis) is drawn into his battle Eric must take on Top Dollar as well.

Michael Wincott as Top Dollar in The Crow

The roots of "The Crow" lie in a comic book, a comic book which I have never read and so couldn't tell you how authentic the movie is. But that doesn't matter as it has a good storyline, dark, occasionally humorous, action packed and paced at such a speed that there are barely seconds between one major scene to the next. "The Crow" starts on Devil's Night, October 30th where we meet both Sergeant Albrecht and Sarah at the scene of the murder of Eric Draven and his fiancee Shelly. It's a minor point but sets up the two important characters who come into play later on. We then jump a year and after his soul is carried away by a Crow Draven returns from the dead to sort out unfinished business. Now I will be frank, it's not the greatest storyline as it's basically a vengeance movie. But it works it well and embellishes it nicely.

One of those embellishments which immediately hits you is that "The Crow" is a gothic movie and puts the like of Batman" to shame as it paints a dark picture of a town which is filthy and full of evil. From the sodden streets through to the wonderful architecture it's visually resplendent and that carries onto the scenes in the clubs full of dark, creepiness. The gothic also extends to the characters especially Top Dollar the vampire like man who basically runs all the gangs within the city.

The gothic styling also impacts the action which it has to be said is quite brutal. The glimpse we get of when Eric and Shelley are murdered is surprisingly violent as are the beatings which Eric dishes out on each of those involved when he returns. And it's not violent in an over the top 80s action movie sort of way, this is real violence, painful, dirty and demanding. Yes being a tale of fantasy with a man who returns from the death there is that element of unbelievability, Eric gets shot but his wounds heal, but it makes it all the more special even magical.

As for the acting, well you have to say Brandon Lee was brilliant as Eric Draven creating such a memorable character, a cool vigilante, a character with his white face and straggly hair feels like it could have been the inspiration for Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight". But it's not just the look of Draven which makes it great, there is real emotion coming from Lee when a scene demands it and as you would expect those action sequences are brilliant, even though they are not overly reliant on Brandon's martial arts expertise.

Aside from Brandon Lee well Ernie Hudson is solid as Sergeant Albrecht and Rochelle Davis in her only movie is good as Sarah. But it is Michael Wincott who delivers a performance as Top Dollar which equals that of Lee's. He makes a vampirish sort of character, pale faced, long haired and thoroughly menacing. And David Patrick Kelly is quite impressive as T-Bird delivering a performance which at times feel a bit like a menacing Dennis Hopper performance.

What this all boils down to is that "The Crow" is a very good movie full of action and style yet still delivering a simple but strong storyline. It is very much Brandon lee's performance as Eric Draven which makes it so good and in a sad way it turned out to be a fitting epitaph to such a talented young actor taken far too soon from this world.