The Crow 30th Anniversary 4K UHD Review

Alex Proyas’ The Crow hits its 30th anniversary – and with a remake (or retooling of the original graphic novel) heading our way soon, the studio that now has the rights to the original has blessed us with the 4k UHD home release of the film. There are various packing available – but for the purpose of this review we will be looking at the steelbook version.

The Film

For the uninitiated: The Crow is an action/tragedy comic book adaptation about a rock singer who, in the opening moments of the film, has been murdered along with his fiancé. A year after his death a crow brings him back from the grave to “put the wrong things right” and so our anti-hero Eric Draven (Brandon Lee – in a role now infamous for being the one he was killed on set whilst making in a tragic accident), focuses his mind on the task at hand, dresses in a particular manner, covers himself with make-up and sets about hunting down the gang responsible one at a time.

The film has a hardened noir-gothic edge to it. It’s a strong visual style featuring some impressive model work, stunts, use of hard lighting and shadows, and visual trickery supported by a totally banging soundtrack of largely industrial rock. The soundtrack is complemented by a very soulful and beautifully angelic score from Graeme Revell. So, it looks great, it sounds great and has the script to match it.  It hadn’t been since Blade Runner that a script has taken a fairly basic set-up and turned it into poetry throughout.  Every character in this film has quotable lines and just about everyone puts in their best work on screen to date. All of these performances are headed up by Brandon Lee’s superbly portrayed Eric Draven, a character equally in love as he is in pain, with sympathy for the innocents and retribution in mind for the guilty. Lee balances the torment as his ghostly figure makes his way from dark destination to dark destination.

As for the action: It’s never repetitive and changes the stakes when it needs to. We didn’t get this kind of revenge-tragedy-action again and done so beautifully until 2014’s John Wick (that’s a 20-year gap!). This is apt as the director of those films doubled Lee on set in this film.  (You know that early moment when he jumps and swings upwards out of his loft window?  That’s him!).

The film has had a strong cult following, and by today’s standards, it’s simply just a very well-respected piece of work. But for many, it’s an absolute favourite that has yet to be even remotely equalled.


The packaging features a plastic sleeve that slides over the steel book. It features a crow image that you can see through to the steelbook underneath so that the main character’s eyes show through. The sleeve is also where you will find the letter for the front and sides of the set and also an adjacent J-card covering the back with the release information on it.

The steelbook itself features a close-up of the main character’s face in full makeup and the reverse side features a rendition of the flaming crow design ignited by the character in the film after taking out the T-Bird opponent. The side of the tin features the crow lettering from the poster.  On the inside behind the embedded plastic is the close-up of the crow/eyes design also from the original posters. 


We are treated to a set of 3 art cards featuring Eric Draven. They are all fairly decent shots from the film and feature a character quote on the reverse side.

There is also a single-sided poster to pull out and unravel (this is the original poster design).

There are two discs in the set, a Blu-ray and a 4K disc. Both feature the same content.

Disc Features

Collectors of the film on previous formats since DVD have been teased over the years with initial vanilla discs to rough extra content such as extended footage montage reels, extended scenes, a short featurette on the bird itself being wrangled on set, short interviews with Brandon Lee on the set of the film, a decent interview with the original comic book creator, and eventually even a couple of commentaries.  Not until now do we have all of this additional material together on the one set. It certainly feels like completion to have it all here, but there are sadly only two brand new features on the film.

The best of these is a three-part interview with the production designer Alex McDowell. His insight into the creation of the sets and the models is informative and well-articulated.  It’s strange that the interview is spread into three parts instead of just being one feature. And it’s also very annoying that each part starts with almost a minute of footage from the film before they begin.  Looking at the timer you really do lose time in these featurettes with unnecessary loaded clips from the film.  It’s a shabby practice done by shabby documentarians to bolster the running time of their material, but very unnecessary and very annoying for the consumer to have to sit through.

The other interview seems to have come in from a different source and features producer Ed Pressman being interviewed. It’s a much lesser interview – partially because Pressman is getting on and has trouble being engaging, but also the interviewer isn’t very good at leading either.

The commentaries are probably where you will get the best knowledge of the making of the film. The first is by Producer Jeff Most and writer John Shirley, and the second more recent is from director Proyas. Both pay tribute to Lee and are well worth listening to if you are interested in the film, but don’t expect anything even remotely akin to bad taste as they avoid steeping too deep into melancholia.

The English audio for the film is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. It’s good if not quite being great. The picture on the other hand is a real step up from previous releases. This is a good example of a film where you can look at the detail and textures of what is going on, and being such a visual film they really did themselves proud with this first bash at the 4k!

And that’s it! It’s very strange that nobody seems to have thought to reach out to anyone else on the project – like the very impressive ensemble cast (Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson, David Patrick Kelly, Rochelle Davis, Anna Thomson, Bai Ling, Laurence Mason, Angel David, Tony Todd).  We want to hear from all of them!

Similarly with the cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, or an interview with composer Graeme Revell would have been outstanding!  But that’s it.  We can now hope that in the future (near future!) Shout Factory or Arrow video or somebody fills in some of those blanks.


This is the best set available on the film and a worthy upgrade for anyone who already has a previous version – but one still with plenty of room for future improvement. The film may have been released with a dark cloud that hovered over it with the passing of its leading man during filming, but enough time has passed now for people to be able to focus on the art itself as there is top-quality work coming out of every department in this film.  The written words, the visuals, sets, models, performances, music and songs are all subjects worth talking about in greater detail for a film that has stood beyond the test of time and continues to endure as a mature comic book action tragedy classic.

Steven Hurst

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