There's something particularly eerie about the way the late Brandon Lee makes his entrance in "The Crow." As you may recall, he was accidentally shot to death during the filming of this picture last year. And his first moment on screen has him pushing his way up through a patch of dirt as he rises from his grave.
That lends a level of texture that was not intended by the filmmakers, of course, to this already ethereal tale of a man who comes back from the dead to avenge his own death and the death of his girlfriend.
Lee plays Eric Draven, who is murdered along with his fiancee by a bunch of depraved, drugged-out killers on Halloween night. One year later he rises up and wreaks havoc on those who committed the act, though the only explanation for his returning from the dead is a vague bit of mumbo-jumbo about a crow calling up his spirit.
The character, who paints his face to look like "a mime from hell," as one character describes him, is characterized as an innocent victim. But his after-death mission is clearly to bring an unpleasant end to the killers and he does so with a Freddy Krueger glee and inventiveness, complete with wisecracks, that causes the movie to inevitably become just another vigilante picture, a nastier blend of "Batman" and "Ghost."
The violence is typically gross-out and the special effects are just OK, while the ambience is wet Gotham City. But the film is much more interesting visually than in story, which is merely a superficial excuse for the violent dispatching of bad guys. And the performances are nothing special, either.
In fact, there's nothing that distinguishes this film from several dozen others cut from the same cloth. And it's fair to say that without the unique circumstances under which it has undergone scrutiny, "The Crow" would likely be treated as little more than just another run-of-the-mill fantasy thriller with horror overtones.
"The Crow" is rated R for considerable violence, gore and mayhem, as well as profanity, sex and nudity.