One year following the murder of he and his fiancée, rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee, son of Bruce) comes back from the dead to avenge their deaths. His resurrection is made possible by a crow pecking atop his tombstone, which is all the explanation one gets completely sketchy, but you roll with it anyway.
Donning pancake makeup with a few well-placed streaks of black, Draven tracks down the gang of thugs to execute them one by one, with cop Ernie Hudson (in his most high-profile role post-"Ghostbusters") on the avenger's trail.
Like "Death Wish" with a strong horror vibe, "The Crow" is a dour-looking piece of pop pulp adapted artfully by Alex Proyas ("Dark City," "I, Robot") from an underground comic book, giving it more depth and pizazz than the source material may have deserved. The result is a cult classic that enjoyed mainstream success, if only for the public's curiosity factor surrounding Lee's on-set, entirely avoidable accidental death.
It's a shame he never got to see it, because he's quite good as the vengeful Draven (but quite bad in the brief flashbacks as happy-and-healthy Draven). Sad to say, but "The Crow" likely wouldn't have been anything but a box-office blip had he lived; had it crossed over, however, it would've been a kick to see him in the three sequels, only one of which got a wide theatrical release, to complete indifference. (Most weren't even aware it became a short-lived TV series.)
Like his legendary father, Brandon Lee went out on a high note, but decades prematurely. Rather than the exploitation trash that succeeded Dad's death ("Game of Death"), "The Crow" feels like a worthy tribute to a taken-too-soon talent. Rod Lott