The media industry has long ago tapped into that infinite well of dreams. While the advertisers continue to mass-market secret monkey spunk formula anti-ageing creams and happy pills, Hollywood reminds us that James Dean, River Phoenix and Heath Ledger live on. In Hollywood, in fact anywhere you die young and famous, you live forever. Music legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Ronnie Van Zant, Tupac Shakur, Kurt Cobain and Dimebag Darrell proved that.
Caught somewhere between is Brandon Lee, who shared the same fate as his father, the immortalised martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Today, we aim to define the cultural impact of a very important film made twenty years ago...
The nineties were a bad time for the likes of Marvel and DC, especially when you look at their movie fare back then. Beyond Batman Returns lay failed attempts such as Captain America and Steel, while independent publishers such as 2000AD, Image and Dark Horse scored with Judge Dredd, Spawn and The Mask. The Crow was one such adaptation that thrived, and yet it didn't succeed merely because its lead star was accidentally killed during filming.
It tells the tale of rock band guitarist Eric Draven, who is already dead by the opening credits; brutally attacked, stabbed and thrown from the window of his apartment before his fiancee is raped and left for dead. They were set to get married on Halloween, but this Devil's Night, the city burns and chaos reigns. A year later, Eric is risen from the grave by the titular big black bird. Driven to despair and anger, and in possession of supernatural powers, he sets out on a dark and bloody journey to hunt down those responsible before Devil's Night comes to a close once more.
|The one and only Eric Draven, Brandon Lee|
|"Warriors, come out to pla... oh, fuck me!"|
Essentially, it's a action movie at its core, with a love of horror theatrics, over the top characters and engaging drama. I'd even go so far as to call it a rock opera. Not only does it have the same sort of pace, humour and grim set design as the likes of Walter Hill's Streets of Fire, you can see the same intentions in countless comic book adaptations and action movies to this day. If you're naive enough to argue, you probably think that leather pants and trenchcoats were made popular by The Matrix. A lot of music video directors owe Alex Proyas a huge thank you. In fact, there are many directors who have Proyas to thank for their careers.
|"What about the Twinkie?"|
Up until then, he had been cast in forgettable fare such as Rapid Fire and Showdown in Little Tokyo. Not only would The Crow had seen him go beyond his father's legacy, it would have made him an unlikely sex symbol. Tragically, just like his character, Brandon was engaged to marry, before his untimely death. An accident with a stunt gun caused a projectile to shatter his spine and he was pronounced dead after five desperate hours of emergency surgery. It proved to be an event that totally devastated James O'Barr, who was well aware of the similarities between real life and fictional tragedies.
When you think of that and watch the movie over again, there are moments that so easily cause you to well up, making it such a dynamic and powerful little gem. On the opening subject of immortality, it's something you can reach out to, but you can't touch. It's a dream. I can't imagine the pain it causes those close to Lee to see his character reaching out to Shelly, no longer able to touch her. That ending just makes you want to fall to pieces and I'm sure a lot of people did.
|"Call me the Punisher... Goddammit, it worked in the car park!"|
Please feel free to share your favourite Crow moments below and thanks for reading. Stay tuned this week for a bit of classic Danny Boyle!