The Crow (1994)
By: Devon B. on August 15, 2013 | Comments
EuroVideo | Region B | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 101 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott
Screenplay: David J. Schow, John Shirley
Country: USA
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I still vividly remember the news report that Brandon Lee had been accidentally killed while filming The Crow. I was incredibly saddened by the news, but was also bewildered by the newscaster saying Lee had been hoping The Crow would elevate him out of the type of movies he'd been making. I couldn't understand, because I loved Showdown in Little Tokyo and Rapid Fire. The moment where Lee kicks through a stairwell to get a villain in Rapid Fire is still one of my favourite action manoeuvres of all time. Okay, so back then Jackie Chan hadn't cracked the States and so maybe I didn't know that Rapid Fire is at times derivative of Chan's work, but whatever, 'cause Lee kicked THROUGH a stairwell and hit the guy on the stairs! I awaited The Crow with a bittersweet feeling, wanting to see Lee's swan song, but also not wanting his career to be over. Upon release it was clear Lee gave the performance of his life, and while the film might not have received the same attention if Lee had survived the shooting, in a just world it still would've been a massive hit and made Lee a superstar in everyone's eyes like he already was in mine. Despite loving The Crow, the sense of tragedy around the film has always been difficult for me, so I hadn't seen it since the 90s. I recently decided that not watching the movie was a disservice to Lee's memory, and ordered a Blu-ray.

The film begins with a young girl explaining the film's premise, that a crow can bring back the soul of someone who has been grievously wronged. A couple are murdered on the eve of their wedding, and a crow returns the male (Lee) a year later. Disoriented, Lee struggles to work out what has happened to him, but quickly starts to seek vengeance for the murders. People don't seem to have much trouble accepting Lee has returned from the dead, like his young friend who is still in mourning or a cop (everyone's favourite Ghostbuster, Ernie Hudson) who suffered through the aftermath of the assault – hell, even his killers seem to take this resurrection in stride.

The Crow had a massive effect on pop culture, and when a movie is this influential its impact can be diluted by later films borrowing heavily from it, but The Crow still holds up. I found some of the foo foo stuff a bit tedious, but I thought the foo foo stuff was foo foo at the time, so it's not like the movie got more foo foo. Aside from some dated and dodgy optical FX the film is still amazing and it has aged very well. Style is virtually dripping from every frame, but the style enhances the story rather than getting in the way of it. As I said before, Lee definitely gave the performance of his career, but sadly that's not saying too much. Lee didn't have a lot to do here acting wise rather than cut a striking figure, and he does that admirably, but this isn't the same situation as The Dark Knight being released after Heath Ledger's death. Perhaps The Crow is all the more tragic in that rather than going out on a pinnacle, what we really got was a glimpse of what Lee might've become.

Perhaps the sadness of The Crow was a bit stronger where I grew up, given that Brandon is buried there. The permanent feature the film left was a talented son being prematurely laid to rest next to his iconic father. As I've grown older, I've come to love Brandon's earlier films in a different way than I used to. I still think Showdown in Little Tokyo is great, but I doubt I'd still describe it as kick ass, and now view it as a fun, hugely homoerotic, stroll down nonsense lane. I guess I finally understand what Brandon meant when he said he hoped The Crow would break him out of the type of films he was doing. I like to think it would have, but even if it hadn't The Crow is a bleak masterpiece that he could've been really goddamn proud of.
The Disc
This is where things get tough. The Crow has been released on Blu-ray in a few different countries and every release seems to have it supporters and detractors. This German Blu-ray has a few spots, a bit of edge enhancement and a few inconsistencies within scenes. It's a dark movie, and the disc handles the darkness well. The film looks better in its few well lit scenes, but still has a softness to it that obscures fine detail. However, there're two things I kept in mind while viewing this Blu. Firstly, despite The Crow's legendary status, it was a cheaper movie so can't be compared to Forrest Gump. The second is that The Crow was initially going to be black and white to match the comic book. When the studio nixed that, director Alex Proyas used filters to drain the movie of colour, which may account for some of the softness. Overall the Blu is better than a DVD, but it's not mind blowing. It would be a tough film to get right, but I think there is room for improvement.

No question about the audio quality, because it's great. The disc has both English and German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes, and they are both of a similar excellent quality. The surrounds are used well, with bullets, cars and explosions rocking past the viewer.

The cover reverses, and the other side doesn't have the big red FSK logo. The disc has a making of that runs about a quarter of an hour, and features Lee discussing aspects of the film, which naturally includes topics like death since he's playing a crow zombie. I was hoping to hear from Proyas or writer David J. Schow, but no dice. There's also a 32 minute with comic creator James O'Barr; three extended scenes; five minutes of alternate takes and b-roll footage; sets and design drawings; and storyboards for five scenes including Scull Cowboy's. Scull was played by Michael Berryman, so I was hoping this deleted scene would appear on the disc, but it doesn't. The film's German trailer is also included, as well as trailers for Lost Island, The Heavy and Schwerkraft. Lastly is a commentary track with producer Jeff Most and co-author John Shirley. The track is a good one that is full of information, and the speakers do a good job of taking things seriously (given the incident that happened while filming) yet not letting the track get too dry or boring. The disc also has some BD Live features, but my player's not online so I'm not sure what they include.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The Crow introduced me to one of my most used swears ("for fuck's sake") and because people were talking about the Lees so much I learned that one of my high school teachers trained at Bruce's martial arts studio and got to meet Bruce once. These two things greatly enhanced my life, and I'm sure the film did other things for other people, too. It's probably been 17 years between drinks for me with this one, and I won't make that mistake again. There's also a steelbook edition of this Blu-ray available that comes with a German language booklet, but presumably that one's cover isn't reversible.
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