Should I Watch..? 'The Crow'

Updated on May 13, 2019
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online for over fifteen years.

Poster for the film
Poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

The Crow is a dark fantasy action film released in 1994 and is based on the 1989 graphic novel of the same name by James O'Barr. The film stars Brandon Lee in his final film appearance as Eric Draven, a rock star resurrected by powerful forces to avenge his own murder and that of his girlfriend. The film has lived in infamy due to the accidental death of Lee on set due to a faulty prop gun, resulting in reshoots and the careful use of stunt doubles and CG to complete the picture. Despite this, the film became an instant cult hit with critics and audiences with takings in the US more than double the film's budget. The film's popularity led to a number of poorly received straight-to-video sequels and a short-lived TV series although rumours persist of a remake stuck in development hell.


5 stars for The Crow

What's it about?

Devil's Night in Detroit - the day before Halloween - and police officer Sergeant Albrecht is dispatched to deal with a particularly gruesome crime. Eric Draven, a local rock musician, is found dead on the street beneath his apartment after being shot and thrown through a window. His fiancé Shelly Webster is also dead, having been beaten and raped by a number of gang members. At the scene, Albrecht meets a young girl named Sarah who says that she was a friend of the murdered pair.

A year later, Sarah visits the graves of Eric and Shelly but is unaware of a crow resting on Eric's tombstone. As the night goes on, Eric crawls out of his grave and finds himself resurrected, guided by the mysterious crow back to his old apartment where the memories of his death haunt him. Meanwhile, across town, Devil's Night is starting up once again and low-level thug T-Bird heads out to have some fun, oblivious to the vengeful spirit about to start hunting him down...

Trailer for the Blu-Ray

Main Cast

Brandon Lee
Eric Draven / The Crow
Michael Wincott
Top Dollar
Ernie Hudson
Sgt. Albrecht
Rochelle Davis
Bai Ling
Tony Todd
David Patrick Kelly

Technical Info

Alex Proyas
David J. Schow & John Shirley *
Running Time
102 minutes
Release Date (UK)
10th June, 1994
Action, Fantasy
*based on the book by James O'Barr
Despite many trying to take on the role after his death, Lee embodies the character like nobody else and has become synonymous with the part.
Despite many trying to take on the role after his death, Lee embodies the character like nobody else and has become synonymous with the part. | Source

What's to like?

Given the film's unique place in history, it's easy to forget that The Crow still has a job to do besides acting as Brandon Lee's epitaph. It still has to be an explosive action film with enough Goth imagery to satisfy an army of navel-gazers. And it is - Proyas has a powerful vision and manages to fill the screen with a movie that is far more engaging and memorable than it has any right to be. This is, to all intents and purposes, a dark but disposable action B-movie. However, combining Proyas' direction and Lee's central performance as the tortured hero, the film suddenly becomes much more interesting.

The film is beautifully shot with just about enough lighting to prevent the film's story being lost in shadow. The action is imaginative and different enough to stop the film feeling like any number of action clones while Lee's appearance as Draven is both shocking and brilliant. He is both an avenging angel overconfident in his abilities and also a wounded soul searching for a way to be with his true love again. The film's soundtrack, a symphony of crunching guitar riffs and alternative rock, is also first class and reinforces the film's appeal to Goths and other youthful subdivisions of culture.

Fun Facts

  • Lee was shot and killed during the scene of Shelly's rape when Funboy (played by Michael Massee) shoots Draven through a grocery bag he's carrying. The footage was used in the investigation into Lee's death and subsequently destroyed. Massee was so devastated by the incident that he took a year out from acting and still has not seen the finished film. In 2005, he admitted to still having nightmares about the incident.
  • James O'Barr was told by studio executives that they wanted to make the film a musical starring Michael Jackson. Bursting into uncontrollable laughter, he was horrified to find that they were quite serious.
  • Lee's accident was not the only on-set mishap. A carpenter suffered burns after his crane struck power cables, a crew member accidentally drove a screwdriver through his hand and a grip truck caught fire. Production was so troubled that a neighbouring production began taking bets on what would happen next until a fire took out several of their sets as well!

What's not to like?

As unforgettable as Lee is as the unfortunate Eric Draven, he shines far brighter than anyone else on screen. Wincott leads a fairly familiar bunch of thugs, hoodlums and drug dealers who haven't a hope in hell of surviving the movie, given the extent of Draven's powers. Let's be honest, you know that the bad guys have been poorly cast if Tony Todd is there - not that he's bad but that's all he ever plays. The film can't keep up with Lee's electric performance - if anything, the gloomy cityscapes and skyscrapers provide more background colour than the supporting cast, much like Gotham City did in Tim Burton's Batman.

Other than a little bit more light to illuminate proceedings, there's not much I can fault with The Crow which stakes a realistic claim to be the greatest film ever based on a comic strip. It is a supremely dark revenge tale but one invigorated by a central performance so strong that it would have made Lee an instant A-list star had he lived. The tragic nature of the piece as well as the dreadful irony of Lee's passing meant that this is one film that will forever live in infamy and that is a shame. Even without the drama and tragedy behind it, this still stands up as one of the best action films of the Nineties.

The film can feel like a music video which is where Proyas cut his teeth - the film's imagery and style are very strong and memorable.
The film can feel like a music video which is where Proyas cut his teeth - the film's imagery and style are very strong and memorable. | Source

Should I watch it?

You don't have to wear black leather or excessive amounts of eye liner to enjoy the film - The Crow is a deeply atmospheric and brilliantly shot action thriller with a lead character for the ages in Lee's Eric Draven. Combining stunning technical wizardry with an unforgettable lead actor, the film offers something a little different and a little smarter than many of its contemporaries. And the fact that none of the sequels have come remotely close to the standard of this first film should tell you all you need to know right there.

Great For: Goths, fans of The Cure, action fans, rockers, Lee's legacy

Not So Great For: the visually impaired, Detroit residents

What else should I watch?

Ignoring the dozens of films based on Marvel or DC characters, The Crow still stands favourably when compared to many of its contemporaries. 300 is a visceral and brutal retelling of Frank Miller's interpretation of the famous Battle of Thermopylae that utilises CG over traditional film-making techniques and therefore, loses a little much-needed grit. Even the great Alan Moore has found himself burnt by Hollywood so much that he refuses to have his name attached to any adaptation of his work - the best such film remains Zach Snyder's inconsistent Watchmen although this damns the film with faint praise. The less said about middling efforts like From Hell and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the better.

Of course, Marvel are currently running riot at the box office due to the phenomenal success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. Starting with Iron Man, the franchise celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2018 with the predictable flood of films like Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man And The Wasp, a sequel to the disappointing Ant-Man. DC, by contrast, are lagging even further behind with only Wonder Woman standing out from their own frustrating line-up by being a superhero film with a female lead. Marvel, take note...

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Benjamin Cox

    Soap Box

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)