The Crow (1994)

Again as part of my project to get relatively caught up with the superhero film genre (and regularly sharing about it with several friends who share the same interest), I watched The Crow during breaks at work on the iPad via Amazon Prime.

I won’t bother retelling the plot in any depth. I’ll just note briefly that Bruce Lee’s son Brandon plays the protagonist, Eric Draven, who through some mysterious supernatural force rises from the grave with powers to avenge his and his fiancé’s brutal murder at the hands of hoodlums under the employ of the city’s crime lord. Eric, who as such becomes The Crow, heals virtually instantly from any wound, has tactile telepathy, and can move and fight with supernatural skill that is basically ninja-like. He can also see things through the eyes of a crow that is evidently a spirit animal for him.

This is a favorite film of my friends Matt and Brian, so I was hopeful that I would enjoy it. And sure enough, I did basically find it fun to watch–although I would add that it did not strike quite as strong a chord with me as for them.

The Crow is a simple tale, and a rather modest film. It aims for the Moon not the stars. And I think it helps that it avoids avoids overreaching as such.

Brandon Lee’s performance is a bit amateurish but he is charismatic; and there is in fact something oddly believable and endearing about how unpolished his acting is. At the end of the day, he was very convincing and managed to “own” the role, I would say.

The supporting cast was pretty strong. It was amusing to see the cinematic wink of casting Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame as Eric’s police officer ally.

It is a convention in both comic books and superhero films for villains often to be overdrawn in their sheer delight of evil. There’s a point at which it becomes a bit ridiculous, though–and this film’s villains arguably cross the line into that territory. The incestuous sibling crime lord pair Top Dollar and Bai Ling, and all but one of their underlings (Grange), are pretty over-the-top. Based on Bai Ling’s use of the Dark Arts, I wondered if Top Dollar and Bai Ling might have been devil worshippers (and having a shared father, hmm; also the association of Devil’s Night). If that were so it would make the Crow all the more interesting as their nemesis come to mete out karmic payback. A ghost taking on the minions of Satan is actually a fairly neat concept.

I think what prevents me from greatly liking this film is that it is clearly geared towards a Goth crowd–and I feel no affinity with that world at all. The Gothic aspects of Batman kind of leave me a little cold as well. (Interesting that I mostly enjoyed Van Helsing (2004)–maybe one of the few who did?–but that was despite the Gothic ambience.)

So in sum, The Crow is, for me, not a bad little flick. It ends up somewhere in the middle of the pack for my ‘most enjoyed’ list of films for the American Superhero Film genre.

The Crow (1994)

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