The Film - Facts and Rumors

There are many misconceptions revolving around various aspects of the production of the Crow, something which is understandable considering the tragic nature of the film's production. This section is designed to put to bed some of the most stubborn rumors that continue to circulate about the film to this day.

The Rumors:

All of the statements below in italics are completely untrue:

    * Brandon was shot and killed during the "Big Moby" gun-fight scene.

    * Brandon was shot and killed during the scene in Gideon's Pawn.

    * Brandon was shot in the head.

    * There is footage of Brandon's fatal shooting.

The Facts:

Brandon Lee died during an accident on the set. Several events seem to have culminated in this tragedy.

    A few days before the fatal accident, a scene called for a gun (A .44 Magnum revolver) to be loaded, cocked, and then pointed at the camera. Because of the close-range of the camera shot, the bullets loaded had real brass caps, but no powder. These bullets, which look whole but have no powder, are often termed "dummy" bullets. This way, the chamber of the revolver appears to be loaded with real shells.

    This is where things start to go wrong. After the cut, the propsmaster (not the armsmaster, James Moyer - he had been sent away from the set for the day) dry-fired the gun to get the cock off. This evidently knocked the slug off of one of the empty cartridges, and into the barrel of the gun. For all intents and purposes the gun was now loaded. Why the propmaster didn't notice this is unkown. Moyer would likely have noticed this - its his job to do so. Why was he sent away? An excerpt from a People magazine article about the accident sheds some light on that reasoning.

    * 'On March 30, one of the few remaining scenes to be filmed involved a single shooting. After so many complex scenes involving blazing machine guns, this trigger squeeze seemed no cause for worry, and the people in charge of production at Wilmington's Carolco Studios told their free-lance firearms consultant, James Moyer, that his services would no longer be required.'

    It must also be noted that corners had been cut throughout the filming of "The Crow" to save money. This was likely another reason why Moyer was sent home.

    The next scene to be filmed involving that gun was the rape of Shelly, and the death of Eric Draven. The gun was loaded with blanks (which can often contain double or triple the powder of a normal bullet to make a louder noise and a bigger flash). Lee entered the set carrying a bag of groceries containing the explosive blood pack. The script called for Funboy (Actor Michael Massey) to shoot Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) as he entered the room, setting off the blood pack. However, something entirely different occured.

    When Massey pulled the trigger, the slug that was stuck in the barrel of the gun was fired at Lee with the force of an actual .44 Magnum shell. The slug penetrated the bag he was carrying, and hit Lee in the abdomen, leaving a wound approxamately the size of a quarter. Within seconds, the cast and crew knew something had gone horribly wrong. Clyde Baisey, the EMT assigned to the set, ordered someone to call an ambulance. Then he began to administer CPR.

    Once again, the same article from People magazine best explains what happened after the accident.

    * 'It was clear by the time he arrived at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, some 30 minutes following the accident, that something had ripped through his body with great force. Dr. Warren W. McMurry began desperately trying to stanch the bleeding, but at the end of the five-hour operation, Lee's condition had not improved. "There was so much blood loss, " McMurry says. "It wouldn't clot. It was oozing from everywhere."

    At 1:04 p.m. Thursday, a little more than 12 hours after Lee had been shot, and nearly 5 hours before Linda, who was flying from Boise, Idaho, where she lives with her husband, businessman Bruce Caldwell, could reach her son's bedside in intensive care, Brandon was declared dead. At an autopsy the following day, medical examiners extracted what appeared to be a .44 caliber bullet that had lodged against the actor's spine.

    After all the talk of ominous forces and star-crossed legacies, the theory emerged that Lee's death was nothing more mysterious than a tragic oversight. According to weapons expert Moyer, the metal tip of one of the dummy bullets, which had been loaded into the gun for the close-up, had somehow pulled loose from its brass casing. When the dummies were unloaded and replaced with blanks, the metal tip remained behind in the gun's cylinder. As soon as the blank went off, its explosive force propelled the dummy tip through the gun barrel--and into Lee's body.'

    Contrary to rumor, the footage of Lee's fatal shooting was destroyed without ever being developed.

Cuts and edits made because of Brandon Lee's death:

  • As Draven first enters the apartment after digging himself out of his grave: footage of Lee walking through an alley in the rain was digitally composited by (ILM) into the scene where he walks through the doorway. Computer technology added drops of water to the door frame and around him to make the water on his back not seem out of place. Amazingly, at the time this technology was completely new and somewhat untested...if this had been attempted just months before, the software needed for playing such digital trickery would not have yet existed.

  • It was once rumored that the scenes of Draven falling from the window was made by digitally compositing Lee's face onto a body double. However, the surfacing of the Crow "workprint" tape has shattered that rumor. Brandon Lee himself actually performed the bluescreen shot of his character falling to his death.

  • The scene where Draven puts on his make-up was filmed using a double. The face in the smashed mirror was indeed computer-augmented by superimposing Brandon's face on to a body double. This and several other of the post-accident 'enhancements' are seen on the the show Movie Magic a series seen on the Discovery Channel.

  • It was once rumored that the image of Draven walking towards the window with the crow on his shoulder was cut from another scene, with a computer-generated crow added. That is not the case. Once again, the "workprint" tape shows its actually Brandon's Body-Double. However, at the point where his character appears in the broken window, they do use some computer imagery to superimpose Brandon's face over that of the double.

  • When Sarah visits the apartment, we never see Draven's face as it is a body double. In the Crow "workprint", he speaks Draven's line, and its clear it is not Brandon Lee speaking.

Cuts made unrelated to Brandon Lee's death:

  • The scene where T-Bird and his cronies blow up an Arcade had some extras which were removed. In the original version of the scene, the gang victimizes a woman, and leave here there as the bomb goes off. As the Arcade explodes, the resurrected Eric Draven stumbles through the alley and is knocked down by the force of the blast. He gets up, and the badly-burned woman stumbles from the debris. Eric goes to support her as she falls, and when he makes contact he "sees" the last moments of her life. This was the first instance of his "touch telepathy", a power he would use several times in the film. These cut scenes appear in the "workprint" version.

  • Scenes featuring Michael Berryman the "Skull Cowboy" were cut. When Eric is brought back, he is visited by the skeletal character. In early scenes, he merely tells Eric to "Follow the crow", but later he explains why Draven is "alive", namely, to kill the bad guys, even the scales, and reunite with Shelly. Eric is told "You work for the living and you bleed." After Sarah is kidnapped, the Skull Cowboy appears to Eric for the final time on the stairs of the church.

    Cowboy: "Quit screwin' around...your job is done. The problems of the living are not your concern."
    Eric: "Its not that easy. Get out of my way!"
    Cowboy: "You risk everything! I took that risk and lost!"
    Eric: "That's your story."
    Cowboy: "You'll go in, as a mortal...alone."
    Eric: "I'm already alone."
    Cowboy: "Then choose. Choose and be damned!"

    That said, the Skull Cowboy vanishes in a swirl of wind and fallen leaves, and Eric enters the church.

    This is why Eric gets hurt at the end, not because of the crow being shot. It was once rumored that these scenes were cut because of Lee's death. However, that is not the case. The producers decided that the effects used to create the character were unsatisfactory, and decided to cut the character from the film, much to the chagrin of Michael Berryman.

  • A scene was written in which Eric ties a spent shell in his hair after killing an enemy, but it did not appear in the film. However, you can see the shell in his hair if you look close enough. This symbolism was taken straight from the original Crow comics.

  • When Eric helps Darla he opens himself up to injury (remember the warning of the Skull Cowboy). Funboy gets out of the bathtub, inhales a large amount of cocaine, grabs the razor that Darla had dropped from attacking Eric. Because of him dealing with Darla his wounds did not heal. The scene with Eric pulling Funboy from the bathtub was a body double. This scene is discussed in detail in the pages of the Crow movie book.

  • The scene of Skank getting smokes and road beers at a convenience store was edited. The shop is robbed by two youths, who shoot Skank in his shoulder as he runs out after seeing T-Bird take off in his car. This is the reason why he is messed up to a greater degree then a simple collision with a car can account for. This scene appears in the Crow "workprint".


This site is maintained by Randall Lilly
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Last Revised: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 16:54:12

The CROW, and all related Characters, photos and concepts are copyright © Pressman Films or James O'Barr (unless otherwise stated), and are used here without permission.