Once people believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes something so bad happens, that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul cannot rest. And sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring the soul back to set things right.
- Opening monologue
The Crow was Brandon Lee's1 last film... he died on the set. This probably accounts for the film's cult status. Many different rumours, theories and versions of Lee's demise abound, and many can be found on the Internet.
The film is a dark thriller... boy meets girl, girl gets murdered, boy gets murdered, boy comes back from the dead with supernatural powers and kills everybody who had anything to do with spoiling the good thing he had going with the girl; the story is based on the underworld comic series of the same name. These comics have been bound together and sold as a 'graphic novel' and there was also a television series on the Fox network in the USA.
The basic premise is stated in the opening monologue. Up and coming rock star Erik Draven (Brandon Lee) and his girlfriend, Shelly are to be wed. Unfortunately, they become the victims of a double murder on what is known as Devil's Night - the night before Halloween. Erik is thrown from a 16th storey window and Shelly is raped repeatedly and left for dead by a gang called the Firestarters, which terrorizes the city by setting as many random fires as possible every Devil's Night.
Erik returns from the dead a year later, dazed and confused at first, but soon settling in to the deadly business of revenge. He is not a monster, however, as is shown by the gentleness with which he treats Sarah, a young child of the streets, whom he and Shelly had raised, and by the way he sets her alcoholic/drug addict mother on the road to healing.
The Crow - City of Angels
This movie is the sequel to The Crow. Rumour was that it was not nearly as good as the first, so many ardent fans of the original elected not to view it. If you're looking for Eric Draven to return from the dead (again) to wreak havoc on more bad guys, you're not going to like this movie; or if you're looking for a nice normal movie where a lot of things go bang and you don't have to wonder why, you're not going to like this movie either... even though there are plenty of things that go bang.
The Crow - City of Angels is darker than the first film; but if you look past the glimpses of BDSM party scenes and the brief nudity (thrown in because 'sex sells'), you will see an interesting story line that challenges the audience to think about what is going on.
The sequel does have a lot in common with the original: the crow is still the hero's link between both worlds, just as before, and the hero is back again to kill those who were involved in his and a loved one's death. Both films deal with darker forces within the inner city, and they both take place around Halloween. Even Sarah is back, but she's all grown up now and her character in adulthood may surprise you.
If, as Brandon Lee said in his last on-camera interview, The Crow balanced the many facets of Eric's character, then City of Angels brings them each into clearer focus... and they contrast well.
The Crow - Stairway To Heaven
I've searched a thousand lifetimes to find a soul like yours...
The television series doesn't really presume you have seen the movies, although the producers hope you have of course. The first episode recaps the original movie quite nicely. It remains far truer to the original plot than most spin-offs. It brings the character of Erik Draven back, and this time he isn't killed at the end, and Mark Dacascos, the actor cast as Erik Draven, even looks a lot like Brandon Lee (with an inch of make-up on, anyway).
Stairway melds the personalities of the two movie heroes - if you can call a dead man on a killing spree a hero - giving Erik some of the tenderness seen in the second movie. Erik now rides a motorcycle and Shelly (Sabine Karsenti) is a more central character than she was on the big screen. As the series progresses, we see his character grow, learning from mistakes and opening up to those around him; though he's still not exactly an angel.