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The Crow (Arrow Recommends)

The Crow (Arrow Recommends)
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Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site.

PLOT: On Halloween night Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his bride to be are savagely murdered by a gang of merciless thugs. A year later on the same night a crow visits Erc’s grave and somehow brings him back from the dead. The reason? To exact retribution.  And he goes about doing just that in hardcore ways! Sing it with me now! “Just paint your face, the shadows smile - Slipping me away from you.”

LOWDOWN: I still remember the first time that I saw THE CROW (GET THE BLU-RAY HERE) on the big screen. I was completely floored by the manner in which Director Alex Proyas blended music video, graphic novel and Gothic aesthetics together to offer up such a visual feast. Throughout my watch I kept getting chills up my spine – and I came out of that theater emotionally drained. The movie changed the way that I looked at cinema in terms how one can use imagery, sound and music to tell a story and affect an audience.

The experience was made even more powerful by the fact that its lead Brandon Lee (son of Bruce) had passed on (3 days before the end of the shoot) due to an on set accident (shot with a prop gun that had a dummy bullet fragment lodged in its barrel). The parallels between Lee and his character of Eric Draven were borderline creepy. I mean Lee died filming his character’s death scene. And Lee was also engaged (to Eliza Hutton ) before passing on, just like Draven. That didn’t go unnoticed and it made the onscreen happenings even more visceral. Being that it’s Halloween season, I couldn’t help revisit this gem and thankfully it still held up today!

Based on James O Barr’s underground comic book THE CROW (excellent read, give it a whirl), THE CROW was just as powerful today as it was upon its initial release. The flick moved at a supercharged pace, dealt with base human instincts themes that we can all relate to (love, death and revenge) and it conveyed its grim tale via masterstroke visual motifs. I’m talking washed out colors for present day events (Proyas wanted black and white – Studio said no dice, he did next best thing), popping colors for flashbacks, brilliant use of slow motion, freeze frames, inventive angles and kinetic camera movements. The flick kicked ass AUDIO wise as well! With impactful sound design (to this day I remember so many of the audio cues), a morose score by Graeme Revell (great score to write screenplays to BTW) and a slew of hard hitting rock songs (with the use of Burn by The Cure being my fav).

Acting wise; the movie was well populated!  Ernie Hudson was affable as the good cop that cares, Rochelle Davis was convincing as Draven’s young friend, Bai Ling gave a chilling show as the main bad girl while David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Jon Polito and (the late) Michael Massee all had a blast playing convincing “scum and loving it” dirtbags. On that, two performances truly stood out for me here, starting with Michael Wincott’s evil yet beyond charismatic turn as head baddie Top Dollar. Everything about Wincott’s showcase greased me right! His long hair, his chill, cocky, cold demeanor, his rapsy voice, his dark sense of humor… dude owned every scene he was in. He took a “meh” role on paper and lifted it off the page! Well done.

And then there was of course Brandon Lee’s turn as Eric Draven. I had seen other Lee films before like Rapid Fire, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Laser Mission and Legacy of Rage but none of those had any meat to them. The Crow was the first time that Lee had a character with layers, one to sink his teeth in. And his performance here was not only intense and simply riveting but it was also endearing and moving. It was a hefty glimpse at the greatness that Lee could’ve achieved if he wasn’t taken from us so damn young.  Add to all that exquisitely Ghotic and creative set designs, a handful of well choreographed action scenes (with the epic "meeting" shoot-out being my fav) and memorable bits of dialogue that have stayed with me ever since I first saw the film (“Is that gasoline I smell?” “I'm sorry if I spoiled your wedding plans there,friend. But, if it's any consolation to you, you have put a smile on my face.”) and you get a bleak and poetic little genre masterpiece!

On the downside, I had the same nit-picks with the film on this watch that I've always had. I could have done without the random comic relief from Hudson's character (Albrecht) that was there to lighten up the tone. It’s a dark film – embrace it 100%!  Moreover, some of the dialogue was a tad cheesy in places and a handful of plot devices didn’t work for me (reading minds with touch, the way the main bad guy was defeated).  Ernie Hudson’s odd cigarette smoking tendencies (holds it ike a joint – doesn’t inhale) grated me once more and this question did pop up this time: Why is Sergeant Torres (Marco Rodríguez) such an a-hole? Talk about a one-note and useless character. On that, the excellence the movie achieved made its faults trivial to me. 

Looking back THE CROW was lightning in a bottle. They tried to re-create the magic that was the film via 3 sequels and one TV show and all of them failed (on that I’d love to see the work-print of City of Angels – I hear Miramax really f*cked that movie). They’ve been threatening us with a remake for a while now, but it keeps on falling through – see that as a sign Mr. Studio. Some film should be left alone and in my useless opinion THE CROW is one of them. If you're gonna do anything, release the initial directors' cut (aka the work print) which is filled with extra footage i.e. an extended opening, further gore, the Skull Cowboy subplot (played by Michael Berryman) and so much more!

In the mood for a heavy dose of death, sadness, rock and roll, insanity, revenge and a f*ckload of bullets? Tap The Crow this Halloween! Does it for me every time!

Source: AITH

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