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written by david j . schow and john shirley , based on the comic book series and comic book strip by james o'barr .
cast brandon lee , ernie hudson , michael wincott , david patrick kelly , rochelle davis , and jon polito .
mpaa rating " r " ( presumably for rape , language , and violence )
running time 100 minutes
" looks like he zigged when he should've zagged . "
- ernie hudson , as a police officer commenting on a suspicious death .
comic book translations are notorious tricky-- anyone up for a double-bill of the punisher and captain america ? -- and the crow proves no exception .
despite a gross of good intentions , brandon lee's final film doesn't fly very high .
the story opens on halloween eve , better known as devil's night .
wilmington-as-detroit is in flames and the police are tending to at least * one * murder : young rock-musician-turned-pavement-artist eric draven ( lee ) , found on a sidewalk six-stories below the apartment he was thrown from .
the cops are also upstairs , administering aid to his fiance who was assaulted and raped and not necessarily in that order .
she dies , the perps .
escape , and , exactly one year later , draven rises from the grave to wreak revenge .
sound familiar ?
unlike charles bronson , whose only known superpower involves an inability to refrain from filming death wish sequels , lee's character has supernatural strength and amazing agility and can even reheal from gunshot wounds faster than robert patrick in terminator 2 . by his side is his crow , the presumable source of his powers as related in the narration .
wearing what appears to be alice cooper's leftover make-up , lee is plopped into an underlit urban landscape that was obviously modeled after batman and blade runner .
but no number of red-lit , rain-soaked streets can compensate for cheap fx that make the crow seem closer to darkman than batman .
( the glaring miniatures should show better on video , though .
: )
a nod to darkman is an insult to sam raimi , though , because alex proyas can't film a decent action scene to save his life .
his two " best " set-pieces-- some banzai board-room butchery and a cool church- roof sword fight-- are also undercut by the awful editing of dov hoenig and scott smith .
blame said editors for the film's frightful flashbacks , as well .
but the pace is quick , thank god , and every good-idea-turned-bad is over before it begins .
the cast is better than it should be .
ernie hudson is a good choice as a friendly policeman and he gets off most of the film's funnier lines .
newcomer rochelle davis does well as both the narrator and draven's scrappy ward .
jon polito has a small , succulent role as pungent pawnbroker .
and michael wincott makes a distinct impression as a long-haired mr . big whose collection of ancient-swords makes him seem like he walked into the film from the trailer to highlander iii .
there can be only one .
finally , there's brandon lee , son of bruce lee , and a 28-year-old rising-star who was fatally shot during shooting .
lee had four films to his name-- kung fu : the movie , laser mission , showdown in little toyko , and rapid fire-- and the crow would've been a nice feather in his belt and that's about it .
there's nothing great from him here-- just a good performance that owes as much to presence as ability .
when the echo of that gunshot finally fades , watching the crow should prove an even * less * remarkable experience .
despite a healthy dose of humor and some surprising sincerity , the crow is still just a couple notches above its straight-to-video brethren .
for now , maybe it's an appropriate eulogy to an actor who could only get better .