Haunted by the horrific murder of his wife, and his own brutal killing, Eric Draven is reborn as an angel of vengeance, hellbent on bringing those to justice who robbed him of everything. Alex Proya’s adaptation of the James O’Barr comic stars Brandon Lee as the unkillable, undead and greatly poetic grease-paint-wearing spirit of vengeance. Although he walks around with a large black bird and even quotes the Edgar Allen Poe classic The Raven, he is less about “rapping on the door” and more about “stabbing on the floor”. The run-down and hellish landscape of Detroit creates a sombre environment for Draven to navigate, the near constant rainfall and litter-strewn streets perfectly capturing the mood of a city ruled by the terror of gangs. But as Draven says, it can’t always rain… The film was a modest success on release, applauded for its visual style and emotional depth and was sadly notable for the accidental death of star Brandon Lee on set prior to the film being completed. A cult classic, and spawning sequels and near constant talk of a reboot, the film continues to have a strong legacy — after all, where else will you find a film where Winston from the Ghostbusters fights the Candyman?
But did you know…
1) This was unfortunately Brandon Lee’s last film. The son of cinema legend Bruce Lee (and a rising star at the time) was tragically killed on-set when a prop gun was not checked properly before use. The gun had a bullet from a dummy round which was accidentally lodged in the barrel. When it was loaded with blank rounds (that feature gunpowder and a primer, but no bullet) and fired the force was enough to launch the lodged bullet at Lee hitting him in the abdomen and proving fatal. The film is dedicated to Lee and his fiancée Eliza.
2) The bulk of the film had already been completed, apart from the opening sequence, when Lee died. The filmmakers, deciding to carry on and release the film in Lee’s honour, re-wrote the opening and used a mixture of CGI and stunt doubles to get the shots they needed.
3) Much like Heath Ledger would do a decade later for his role as the Joker, Brandon Lee would apply his own make-up and sleep in it overnight to prevent it from looking too clean, considered and applied.