Goth children rejoice! The last costume you will EVER need is here!
"Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever."
The Crow, released in 1994, adapts James O'Barr's comic book of the same name for the silver screen. David J. Schow and John Shirley wrote the screenplay, Alex Proyas directed, and Brandon Lee starred in the film (his final role; see below).The writers made several alterations to the comic's story for the adaptation — including the creation of a mythology in which the crow serves as a Magical Guide who both leads souls to the afterlife and resurrects a 'lost soul' if they suffered an unjust death in need of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The film shows Eric coming back to life (and clawing his way out of his grave), and his supernatural ability to resist mortal injury becomes linked to the crow (if someone hurts the crow, Eric gets hurt all the same). Other pragmatic alterations to the story included development/expansion of both the supporting characters and Eric, who comes off as more human and relatable than the comic's Eric. (Eric also received a meaningful surname as a result of the changes.)The accidental death of lead actor Brandon Lee during filming ended up overshadowing the film; because of this (and the somewhat easier accessability of film in comparison to comics), The Crow became another example of Adaptation Displacement in action. Even now, some fans don't know that the lead character in the comic is a mechanic named Eric (not an indie rock guitarist named Eric Draven) or that the "resurrected soul putting the wrong things right" mythology doesn't exist in the comic.Numerous plans for a reboot to the film franchise have dropped into Development Hell. At various points, writers such as Nick Cave had their names attached to the screenplay and actors such as Mark Wahlburg, Bradley Cooper, and Channing Tatum all came up in talks over who would play the role of Eric. As of March 2013, the reboot has a director (Francisco Javier Gutierrez) and a lead actor (Luke Evans) attached; Edward R. Pressman, who produced the three sequel films in the franchise, will produce this one as well.The 1996 sequel The Crow: City of Angels features a new protagonist and an adult Sarah; fan reaction proved...mixed. The TV series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven also followed the plot of the movie, though it returned Eric Draven (played by a new actor, natch) to life so he could serve as its protagonist.Subsequent sequels The Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer have no relation to the plots and characters of the first two films.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
Eric and Shelly aren't the random victims of a drive-by crime. In the film, they are brutalised and killed after Shelly protests against wrongful tenant relocation.
Top Dollar was changed from just being a low-level drug dealer to being a twisted crime overlord with the gang as his hit squad and Myca and Grange backing him up.
Sherri in the comic book becomes Sarah in the film, and has a much larger role. She was friends with Eric and Shelly while they were alive, and at the climax of the film Eric has to save her life when she is threatened by Top Dollar and Myca. Sarah's drug-addicted mother (now called Darla) is much the same character in the comic, but a scene shows her having turned over a new leaf after Eric confronts her over her neglect of Sarah, and hints a reconciliation between mother and daughter.
A lot of drama was added to the climax, unlike in the comic where Eric just rampages unstoppably through the criminal underworld. On the other hand, Tom-Tom was removed, Funboy was given a much smaller role and any scenes of Eric in the afterlife were excised.
Agony Beam: Eric defeats the Big Bad with this trope by Agony Beaming his fiancée's experience of being gang raped, beaten and dying from her injuries over 30 hours later into the Big Bad, rendering the Big Bad incapacitated and vulnerable to the final death-dealing blow.
Ascended Extra: Sarah has much more focus in the movie than her comic counterpart, Sherri; also, Sherri never knew Eric while he was alive, and called him "Mr. Clown Face". See also Adaptation Expansion above.
Brother-Sister Team: Top Dollar and Myca are a villainous variation of this. They're the closest members in Top Dollar's criminal syndicate, and she serves as his advisor on supernatural matters. Because they're villains, their relationship is openly incestuous.
Officer Albrecht in the comic is a white rookie patrolman, and reports to a black detective by the name of Captain Hook (ha, ha). If you're gonna pay for Ernie Hudson, you might as well use him.
Top Dollar in the film was also sort of a mash-up of several gangster characters from the comic - though his role in the story mostly stands him in for T-Bird (who, in turn, was relegated to being Top Dollar's lieutenant) and turns him from a drug kingpin into an almost ludicrously depraved monster.
Cool Old Guy: Mickey, who runs a hotdog stand across the street from Gideon's pawn shop.
Deadpan Snarker: Eric in Gideon's shop. Gideon himself too. And Top Dollar. And Albrecht. You know what, pretty much everybody.
"Is that gasoline I smell?" said by Eric just before destroying Gideon's shop with the gasoline he spilled all over the counter.
Digital Head Swap: Brandon Lee's face was digitally grafted onto a stunt performer's body for a small smattering of scenes not yet shot at the time of his death. Most notable is the Becoming the Mask scene. From the time Eric enters the apartment until the end of the obligatory "runs along the rooftops" scene, a stunt man was playing Brandon Lee.
Dragon Lady: Top Dollar's incestuous consort (whose back is seen to sport a giant, colorful dragon tattoo during her character's introduction) is played by Bai Ling. Enough said.
Dragon Their Feet: Eric kills off the gang who attacked him and Shelly, eventually killing the leader, T-Bird. Skank, his right hand man, is the last member of the gang to die. While the gang might be considered a Quirky Miniboss Squad to Top Dollar, they were Eric's initial targets.
Possibly justified, in that Eric is deliberately going after them in the order they raped and attacked Shelly.
Empathic Environment: It finally stops raining after Top-Dollar is dead, and Eric returns to his grave at peace.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: The criminal gangs in the various movies were pretty ethnically diverse. Even the brother/sister team in the first film were of different ethnicities (they were half-siblings).
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In a rather twisted way. Top Dollar, as depraved a villain as he already is, seems to genuinely love his sister despite the incestuous nature of their relationship.
Although this is subverted at the end. When she dies he express no grief or sadness showing that is still a selfish monster with no sympathy for anyone expect himself.
Eye Scream: Myca has a fondness for eyes. The first eyes she cuts out were from somebody already dead, making it a slightly less horrific example. We later see two eyeballs which are hopefully from this person, otherwise it means she's cut out even more eyes.
Flaming Emblem: Eric did this using explosives and gasoline to turn T-Bird's own car into a bomb. When the car explodes, a trail of flames spread across the pier in a pattern created by Draven's accelerant, creating the crow emblem. This is an interesting case in that the character did not really have an emblem in-universe. The emblem was used in marketing and the film's logo.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Eric Draven's return from the grave gifts him with a healing factor that prevents him from gaining any new scars - but the scars from the bullet wounds that killed him remain clearly visible on his chest when shirtless.
Good Thing You Can Heal: Eric's default strategy despite his fighting prowess. Officer Albrecht even lampshades this when his plan is for Eric to draw the bad guys' fire until they run out of ammo. Too bad his Healing Factor has been disabled at this point.
Groin Attack: Where does Eric place the stick of dynamite when he blows up one of Shelly's rapist-murderers? Between the legs, of course.
Guns Akimbo: Eric blasts off with both guns blazing during the boardroom shootout, while Top Dollar gets his moment during the church shootout near the end of the movie.
Also, Tin Tin is killed by his own knives, Fun Boy by his own gun and syringes, and T-Bird by his T-Bird and explosives. The only member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad who isn't Hoist by His Own Petard is Skank, who's merely thrown out a window
Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Eric's death and return from the grave take place on Devil's Night. City of Angels had its resurrection scene on All Saints' Day, and its climax at a Day of the Dead festival.
I Am Becoming Song: The Cure's "Burn" (the movie's unofficial anthem) thunders on during the sequence where Eric makes himself into the Crow.
Although if you listen to the lyrics closely, it's clear that the song was written from the comic's plot, not the movie's.
Impaled Palm: Eric Draven first demonstrates his regenerating powers by getting shot through the middle of the palm of his hand.
Improvised Weapon: During his final duel with Top Dollar on the roof of a cathedral, Eric rips off an ornate iron spire to use as an improvised sword against Top Dollar's katana.
In the Back: During Eric and Top Dollar's battle on the church rooftops, Eric is momentarily distracted by a distressed Sarah. Top Dollar takes a cheap shot by sneaking up behind him and stabbing Eric through the back with his sword.
Just Between You and Me: At the end, crime lord Top Dollar gives the avenging Eric Draven the speech after he impales him through the back. He admits that he's ultimately responsible for the death of Eric and his girlfriend Shelly, and expresses admiration for what he considered a Worthy Opponent. As he gets ready to slit Eric's throat, Eric gives back what Top Dollar's owed - the combined memories of 30 hours of pain as Eric lay dying from his wounds.
Karmic Death: "I have something for you, I don't want it anymore".
Also, the Crow pecking out Myka's eyes.
Katanas Are Just Better: Top Dollar has an entire cabinet full of swords, but uses a katana to fight Eric during the climax. Eric grabs one from the cabinet himself during the gang boss massacre. Ironic since Michael Wincott, the actor who plays Top Dollar, is an accomplished fencer in real life. The trope is somewhat averted earlier in the film, when a rapier (the Six Finger Sword) is shown to be the centrally placed in Top Dollar's sword cabinet, and is selected to kill Gideon.
Lack of Empathy: Top Dollar cares absolutley nothing of the pain he causes to others. It's is shown in his treatment towards Gideon and the fact he sadistically confess to Eric that he's responsible for his death and Shelly's. Even when Myca, his own sister and lover, dies he sheds no tears and on the contrary showing enjoyment for the thrill.
Eric himself on occasion, such as when he tortures Gideon for information
T-Bird and his gang.
Le Parkour: Eric leaps and sprints across the city rooftops in two highly atmospheric scenes.
Lighter and Softer: Comparably speaking. The movie is very dark, but the character is less manically sociopathic than his comic book counterpart, and the violence is less extreme. This does not imply that the movie is not violent, edgy, and pathos-filled though, merely that the comic it adapts would have reckoned some kind of world-breaking NC-25 rating if it had been adapted in full.
Put it this way: the film has a touching scene where Eric gives Albrecht a meaningful speech about how "nothing is trivial" and how you have to treasure each moment as they come. In the comic he shoots up drugs and self-mutilates in a frenzy of grief and anger. Repeatedly.
Madness Mantra: T-Bird's "There ain't no comin' back, there ain't no comin' back...." And for him, this was true.
No Name Given: Top Dollar, Myca and Grange are not referred to by name until the end credits.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Myca (Top Dollar's Chinese half-sister, played by Bai Ling) normally speaks in a childish idiom that suggests a Cloudcuckoolander and sometimes borders on You No Take Candle. ("I like the pretty lights.") Yet she is really every bit as crafty as her brother, and she even comes up with a scheme to blunt Eric's supernatural power. Plus, she proves herself a capable Dark Action Girl when she shoots Lieutenant Albrecht.
One Last Smoke: Subverted. Eric helps a wounded Albrecht have one, but he survives. And (supposedly) quits smoking.
Eric's "You shouldn't smoke these, they'll kill ya" line after taking a puff was ad-libbed by Brandon.
One-Man Army: Eric, when taking out the gangsters in Top Dollar's headquarters. Being invincible probably helped.
Quirky Miniboss Squad: The gang who killed Eric and Shelly were employees of Top Dollar. Played with in that while Top Dollar is technically the Big Bad of the film, they are the targets of Eric's revenge.
Percussive Therapy: Eric plays his guitar and then smashes it in a fit of grief and anger.
Pet the Dog: A rare anti-hero centric example, as Eric's relationships with Sarah and Officer Albericht humanizes him and keeps him from becoming the borderline monster that he is in the comics.
Post Humous Character: Eric's girlfriend Shelly Webster was given this treatment, both in flashbacks and from the other characters, such as Eric himself, who came Back from the Dead in order to avenge them both:
Eric: Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I always thought they were kind of trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.
Post Rape Taunt: Tin-Tin taunts Eric Draven, whose girlfriend was raped by him and his friends. He comes to regret these words.
Properly Paranoid: Skank while not very smart and a coward. The Second he sees a picture of Eric without the make up he instantly knows who it is and is reacts in fear.
Psycho for Hire: Tin-Tin, Funboy, T-Bird and Skank, Eric Draven's targets of vengeance, who do particularly brutal jobs for the city's kingpin, Top Dollar. In something of a subversion of the trope, Top Dollar is far more evil than even these psychotic killers.
Pyro Maniac: Crime lord Top Dollar is a gangster who institutionalized the yearly arsons of Devil's Night that plague Detroit by starting the first fires and then expanding the idea each year while reaping profits on the side. At a conference between the major gang leaders he announces that he's grown bored of it all, and to top himself declares that he's going to burn down the whole city purely for his own amusement.
Tranquil Fury: The beginning of Eric's fight with Tin Tin, he never says a single word or expresses a sound, even when Tin Tin punches him. Then when he finally has Tin Tin pin to the walls he expresses his rage in three words with fury that would make Bruce Lee and Samuel L. Jackson proud.