Tag Archives: Brandon Lee

The Troubled Remake Of The Crow And My Idea

Its recently been announced that they are remaking the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.

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Well I never expected that news but as a huge Bruce Lee fan (my middle name is Lee named after him) I was brought up on his movies, I’ve read countless books about the man and watched just as many documentaries. I love me a bit of Brucie so you’d think I’d be upset about a remake of one of my favorite films of his. I’m not.

Just as a quick aside. The Enter the Dragon remake is getting some backlash over the fact they have hired a white American to direct the film in David Leitch. Errrr, the original was directed by the white American Robert Clouse, produced by white Americans Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller and written by white American Micheal Allin. Worked then didn’t it? Point is, why does the colour of a person’s skin or their race matter? Shouldn’t it be about hiring the best person for the job regardless of their race?

Back to the main point…the talk of remaking Enter the Dragon got me thinking about a similar subject, the much troubled remake of The Crow.

Yes I know there will be a certain group of people who will instantly take a disliking to any talk of a remake of The Crow. But hey, I’m not one of them and this is my blog – so tough. You want to rant and rave against it, set up your own blog.

I honestly think that, if done right a remake of The Crow could be amazing. But before I offer my idea, a quick history on the numerous troubles in getting The Crow remade…okay so before my idea and before the troubled history – maybe a quick mention of exactly what The Crow is and why some people are against it.

The Source

The Crow Comic

Originally written in the form of a comic book series and published in 1989, The Crow was born from the bitterness and anger of writer/artist James O’Barr who lost his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver. The Crow is a bloody and violent revenge tale with a hell of a lot of heart and emotion. Telling the story of Eric and his girlfriend Shelly, who one night are attacked. Eric is put in hospital fighting for his life while Shelly is killed outright. Eric holds on to life while a mysterious crow tells him to let go. Eric eventually dies but is brought back by the crow. Eric now possess supernatural powers such as invulnerability which he uses to extract revenge on those that killed both him and Shelly.

It’s a dark and moody story with a lot of rough edges and a little uneven in places for sure, but its also a brilliant and utterly enthralling story and well worth reading if you can find a copy.

The Movie

The Crow Eric

In 1994, a film adaption was released after the death of its star Brandon Lee who was accidentally shot on set while filming in 93. Director Alex Proyas was so upset by Lee’s death that he felt he couldn’t continue with the film despite the fact that Lee had already finished pretty much all of his work and his death occurred with only three days left of the film shoot. The film sat on the shelf for several months and it looked like it would never be released, until Linda Lee (Brandon’s mother) stepped in an urged Proyas to finish the film out of respect for her son.

The Crow was released in 94 and became a huge cult hit and made a star of Brandon Lee.

The Controversy

It is the death of Brandon Lee while making The Crow why many people feel it should never be remade. I’m not one of them. Look, I loved the movie back in the day – but quite honestly, it hasn’t really held up well. A film I once loved back in the 90s just feels very off after I read the comic books it was based on. The 94 film is a bastardised, diluted film that lacks so much of what made the source material so damn good. I don’t “hate” the film version at all and can quite happily sit down to watch it – but it’s just lacking in so many ways, it feels so weak after reading the comic books. And as controversial as it may seem, no film or character is bigger than any actor… alive or not.

The Crow Eric 2

Getting upset over a remake of The Crow due to the death of Lee is like boycotting any and everything involving the character of the Joker due to the death of Heath Ledger. Times change, new ideas need to be explored and above everything else – no matter if The Crow remake eventually happens or not… the 94 film will always be there. Nothing any remake does or does not do can ever take anything away from the film Brandon Lee died for while making. If the remake does happen and whether its the best film ever made or a big piece of shit, the 94 film will still be the exact same film it was before. Nothing changes, so just calm down folks.

The Troubles

So the idea of remaking The Crow has been around for quite a while, as far back as 2008 in fact. Originally Blade director Stephen Norrington was in the main man for the job until he left the project and director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo of 28 Weeks Later fame stepped in around 2011. There were talks of having Bradley Cooper play the main role too as this early concept art shows.

Concept Art

The film was moving along nicely but a few legal matters between the production company of the remake, Relativity Media and creator of The Crow James O’Barr that had not been fully sorted out surfaced. This eventually put the project on hold and led to scheduling conflicts with Cooper who then had to drop out. Producers needed a new lead and looked at Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling and James McAvoy as possible replacements. Around this time, director Fresnadillo also left the project. So they were back at square one.

This was when the then unknown Spanish director Francisco Javier Gutiérrez became attached. New actors were considered including Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, and finally, Luke Evans. The film even got to a point where Evans was officially announced to star and the remake was once more going ahead around 2015. Not too long after the announcement though and Evans dropped out to be replaced with Jack Huston…who also dropped out soon after being announced as lead actor. New actors were being suggested with both Nicholas Hoult and Jack O’Connell but director Gutiérrez eventually left. Yes, back at square one… again.

Jason Momoa and Corin Hardy

Enter English director Corin Hardy who relished the idea of remaking The Crow and began working on the film in 2015. However, Relativity Media who were set to produce the film filed for bankruptcy, so Hardy left. Still, Relativity Media carried on with the project despite their money troubles and Hardy unexpectedly returned to the film with Game of Thrones and Aquaman actor Jason Momoa signing to play the lead. It seemed a little strange that a studio filing for bankruptcy were still trying to get a big budget film  made and in 2016 Davis Films, Highland Film Group, and Electric Shadow banded together and bought the rights to the film from Relativity Media. Both Hardy and Momoa stayed on board and in 2017 Sony agreed to distribute the film. Things were looking good once more and the remake was going full steam ahead. Production was set to begin in early 2018 in Budapest. This was the furthest the remake had ever gotten. There were even start dates announced for filming.

Yet around May of this year and it all fell apart… again. Even though Sony announced an 11th of October, 2019 release date, both director Hardy and lead actor Momoa left the project. Which all brings us up to date with this decade long attempt to remake The Crow. Once more, the remake is back at square one. And its a damn shame too as it had been said that James O’Barr was fully on board with this remake and aimed to make it a much more faithful adaption of his original source material… which is exactly what I’m so hungry to see.

My Idea

I fucking love the original The Crow comics and as I said earlier, I feel they are far more powerful and with more depth than the 94 film version which I think is massively diluted over its source material. I have a far simpler and I think much better idea for the remake than any of the attempts over the last ten years too. Just take the comic books and animate them.

The Crow Comic 2

Same art style, same characters, same plot. Use the comics as storyboards and bring the whole thing to life via animation. I’ll even allow some creative license with the material to a point. Much like Robert Rodriguez did when he made Sin City. Be about 90% faithful to the source, but still tweak things enough to allow the director to put their own stamp on it. Alter and switch some of the dialogue, tinker with colours in the stark black and white world to emphasise blood, etc. But still remain as true to the comics as you can. James O’Barr could be story and art director but give the main directing job to a great animator/director such as Brad Bird, Dorota Kobiela, Sylvain Chomet, Gil Kenan or how about giving one of the old guard a chance to return to their roots with Don Bluth or Tim Burton?

Holly fuck-balls. An adult based Tim Burton directed animated film closely based off The Crow comics. That has to be the best idea since someone said “I think I’ll put some Jack Daniels into this glass of Coke.”.

The Crow Comic 3

I’d love to see an adult, uber violent, bloody but still with all the heart and emotion animated attempt at The Crow and finally see one of the finest comic book series brought to life on film full of life. Make it happen Sony.

The Lee Family ‘Curse’

Movie curses and the stories behind them fascinate me – call it morbid curiosity if you will. There are quite a few ‘curses’ I want to take a look at from those linked to movies, characters and even actors. Now I did take a look at a supposed curse connected to a film script that still has never been made a while back. I really enjoyed researching and writing that one up. So I plan on writing more articles connected to curses over the next few months.

Full disclosure. While I enjoy reading and writing about these things, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I personally do not believe in curses. I believe in unfortunate accidents and eerie coincidence. No matter how bizarre or macabre a situation may seem, to me it’s an accident/coincidence with a possible and reasonable explanation.

So with that out of the way, on with the article.

Today (1st of February) would have been Brandon Lee’s 53rd birthday. Yeah its kind of hard to imagine a half century old Brandon Lee isn’t it? Brandon was a charismatic and charming man, not that I ever met him, I’m just going off interviews I have seen and so on. I still remember the day I picked up a newspaper on 1st of April 1993 to be met with a front page headline that read: “SON OF BRUCE LEE DEAD AT 28”. Given the date of the news, I was expecting it to be some kind of sick April Fools joke – sadly, it wasn’t. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. In order to get into this curse, I need to go back to his father and where the curse was supposedly born.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

A man who really needs little to no introduction. Bruce Lee changed martial arts/Kung-fu cinema forever. Born in San Francisco on the 27th of November, 1940 while his father was there touring with the Cantonese opera as an actor. Bruce was originally given the name Sai-fon which was a feminine name meaning ‘small phoenix’ by his mother. She chose to give her son a female name due to the fact she had previously given birth to a son who died, Bruce’s mother was deeply superstitious so gave Bruce a girls name in an attempt to fool any evil spirits into thinking her son was actually a daughter. This is pretty much the origin of the whole ‘Lee family curse’ thing. More on that later…

His parents moved back to Hong Kong when Bruce was around three months old. As a teenager, Bruce often found himself involved in numerous street fights – so his father  decided that he should to be trained in the martial arts. This is when Bruce was first introduced to Wing Chun and the legendary Yip Man. He also started to feature in several Chinese films as a child and in his teenage years following in his father’s acting footsteps.

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But his street fighting ways would still follow him and after a particularly violent fight where Bruce was said to have viciously beaten the son of a feared Triad family boss, the police were called in. Bruce’s father believed his son’s life was in danger so sent his then eighteen year old son back to his place of birth, San Francisco to stay with his older sister Agnes Lee who was already living out there. While in America, Bruce began teaching martial arts to Americans. He also met and later married Linda Emery and they had two children, Brandon and Shannon Lee.

One Inch Punch

While taking part in several demonstrations at numerous karate championships, Bruce caught the attention of TV producers and landed a role in the show The Green Hornet. This lead to more roles in TV shows including Marlowe and Ironside among others. Bruce became frustrated with only getting small TV roles so returned to Hong Kong where he got his first leading role in The Big Boss. The film was a huge success that catapulted Bruce into super-stardom in China and several more film roles came along.

Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon were his next two films and they both became huge hits. In 1972, Bruce began work on his next film, Game of Death a film he envisioned would offer viewers a deep and meaningful look into the world of martial arts. He filmed scenes and had several minutes of footage ready for editing, but before he could complete work on the film Bruce was approached by Warner Brothers who offered him a chance to make a big American film – something Bruce had previously been chasing for years. He returned to America once more to work on this new film putting Game of Death on hold. This big American movie was Enter the Dragon which began filming in early 1973. Enter the Dragon was completed and Bruce decided to go back to Hong Kong and take some time off before returning to work on Game of Death.

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Sadly, Bruce never got to finish his opus, Game of Death, nor did he ever see the release of his big American flick Enter the Dragon as shortly before the film was due to be released – Bruce Lee unexpectedly died.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee

Born 1st of February, 1965 in Oakland, California. Brandon was the first of two children of Bruce Lee and Linda Lee Cadwell. Between the years of 1971-1973, the Lee family lived in Hong Kong. But Linda moved the family back to California following the sad death of her husband. Brandon attended Chadwick School in Los Angeles but was forced to leave due to insubordination. He then went to Bishop Montgomery High School and when Brandon turned eighteen, he attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in theater. Brandon sought acting lessons the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. As a child and through his teenage years, he was being taught martial arts by close, personal friend of his father – Dan Inosanto.

In 1985, Brandon returned to Los Angeles and began working as a script reader for low budget film company Ruddy Morgan Productions where he also landed his first on screen appearance as an uncredited cameo in the film Crime Killer. His first credited role came rather ironically in the TV movie Kung Fu: The Movie, which was based on the TV show of the same name. If you know the history of how the TV show Kung Fu the show came about, then you’d understand the irony – even more so seeing as Brandon was playing the son of the lead character. The movie that gave Brandon his first real leading role was Legacy of Rage the only film he made in Hong Kong. The flick also featured iconic martial arts movie actor Bolo Yeung, who also appeared in Enter the Dragon alongside his father, Bruce.

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Brandon returned to TV in America with Kung Fu: The Next Generation a pilot made as another followup to the original TV show. Brandon appeared in other TV shows and low budget films through the late 80s but it was in 1991 when he starred in the action film Showdown in Little Tokyo alongside Dolph Lundgren that Brandon got his big break and signed a multi-picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Rapid Fire was his next film released in 1992, also in 92 Brandon landed the lead role in the film adaption of the cult, underground comic book series – The Crow. It was while filming The Crow in 1993 that Brandon Lee was killed on set via a tragic accident.

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Brandon’s heartbreaking death and the unexpected death of his father almost twenty years earlier is what helpt cement the idea of a ‘Lee family curse’.

The Curse

Lee Curse Newspaper

The deaths of both father and son has raised many questions over the years. With Bruce it was mainly how could a young man as physically fit as he was just die so suddenly? With Brandon, the questions were related to the safety (or lack of) during a film’s production. These questions have been answered, but many people refuse to accept them and instead try to look for alternate reasons for their deaths and creating a puzzle they can’t solve. Conspiracy theories that include both Bruce and Brandon being killed by Triads due to the actions of Bruce when he was a teenager are also mentioned. Perhaps the biggest theory is known as the ‘Lee Family Curse’ or ‘Bruce Lee Curse’.

Bruce Lee Family

As I mentioned earlier, the idea of this curse seems to come from the fact that Bruce had an older brother who died as a baby before Bruce was even born. It has been said that Bruce’s family were deeply superstitious and believed an evil spirit was following them and targeting their children. But if this is true, then why is Shannon Lee alive while her brother Brandon is not? Well its also said that the evil spirit only targets the males in the family. But this theory hardly holds water itself, if an evil spirit really is killing the males of the Lee family…then why is Bruce’s younger brother Robert Lee still very much alive and will turn seventy years old later this year (as of writing) and why did his older brother, Peter Lee live until 2008 when he passed away at sixty nine? Is it an incredibly slow moving curse?

Another reason why some people believe there is a curse on the family is due to the eerie similarities between Bruce Lee’s final film, Game of Death and the tragic accident that killed Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow. For those not in the know, after Bruce died it became popular knowledge that he was working on another film and that he had already filmed several scenes for it. Fans wanted to see his final film brought to the big screen. So a team of film-makers were assembled to piece together Game of Death and finish the work Bruce started. If you have ever seen the film, then you know what a shameless and insulting mess of a movie it is. From using actual footage of Bruce’s real funeral complete with Bruce Lee himself dead in his casket to completely ignoring his original vision and message he wanted to convey just to make a bog-standard, cookie-cutter Kung-fu flick to cash in on the superstar’s popularity. Anyway, in the butchered Game of Death flick – there is a scene where Bruce Lee’s character is shot and (supposedly) killed while making a film. Something that would very sadly become true for his son Brandon Lee.

Bruce and Brandon 3

Then of course there are the other bizarre coincidences while Brandon was shooting The Crow too. You see, Brandon was engaged and due to marry his fiancée Eliza Hutton after filming had finished on The Crow and they were in the final week of the film when the tragedy happened too. Eric Draven, the character Brandon played in the film was set to marry his fiancée within the film too – but was killed before that could happen. Its this kind of food that feeds the conspiracy and ‘curse’ theorists.

For me, there is no ‘curse’ and never was. We have just sadly been robbed of two amazingly talented and charismatic people during the prime of their lives. Two people who were both on the cusp of becoming the movie stars they so badly wanted to be.

The best way to sum all of this up is by using a quote Bruce’s wife, Linda used to describe her late husband. A quote that I feel can now be used for both father and son:

“All these years later, people still wonder about how Bruce died. I prefer to remember how he lived.”

I could not agree more.

For Bruce and Brandon…

Bruce and Brandon 4

Bruce Lee: “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

Brandon Lee: “Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.”

Birth Of The Dragon

Birth of the Dragon

Just as a little bonus, my mini-review of the latest ‘Bruce Lee film’ Birth of the Dragon.

For those not in the know this flick is getting slated by Bruce Lee fans for being an insult to the man himself. Look, I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan, my middle name is Lee named after the great man himself. I grew up watching his movies and still massively enjoy them today. I read and listen to his philosophical teachings – I try to “be like water my friend”. But I wish to offer an alternate view of this film.

Okay so one of the main reasons the picture is getting slated is because pretty much everyone is saying how its not an accurate biopic. I can’t argue against this – most probably because its not meant to be a biopic. Birth of the Dragon is a fictional film inspired by true events…not based on true events and there is a big difference between ‘inspired by’ and ‘based on’. This film was shot in the same style of movies that Bruce was making in his heyday – its made as a love letter to that genre of film. Its not meant to be a biopic at all. Once you get that into your head and view it as an action/Kung-fu flick…there’s a lot of fun to be had with this one.

Birth of the Dragon 2

Quick synopsis. The film tells the story of a younger Bruce Lee before he became a worldwide phenomenon, before he created Jeet Kune Do and concentrates his infamous fight with Kung-fu master Wong Jack Man and their relationship after the fight. As previously mentioned, the film is inspired by real events – but not based on them so there is a lot of fiction in this one.

I enjoyed it for what it is. A throwback to Kung-fu flicks of the 70s a genre that really is  hardly made anymore. The direction is solid throughout, the action scenes are well shot as is the big fight between Bruce and Wong Jack Man. There are fun nods and references to some of Bruce’s work to spot along the way.

Philip Ng who plays Bruce Lee is pretty good in the role bearing in mind that is a fictional Bruce Lee being depicted before he became the Bruce Lee the world would come to know. The film spends a lot of time following a student a of Bruce – Billy Magnussen as Steve McKee (inspired by Steve McQueen) and most of these scenes tend to drag as he’s just not as interesting a character as Bruce. But overall, its a good Kung-fu flick worth watching…as long as you know what it is and don’t go into it believing that its a biopic.

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I find it hard to argue against a lot of the criticism this film has been generating because the negative comments do ring true. But if you do read reviews of this, then you’ll find pretty much everyone is calling it a biopic when its not. Their displeasure of the film is coming from the fact they are viewing the flick in the wrong light. Sit down and watch this one knowing you are going to see a fictional, 70s style Kung-fu flick and I think you’ll enjoy it. Look at it this way, it a hell of a lot better and far less insulting than Game of Death was and still is.

Film production deaths

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Yes, I’m going to write about celebrity deaths. Something about 2016 that has just got me thinking about famous people that have died for some reason…

Films and TV shows are an amazing piece of entertainment, they can make us laugh, cry, excited and so on. We get passionate about films/shows in various ways. We can hold in depth discussions on our own personal interpretations of characters and plots. Yet no matter how passionate we get over everything, they are just entertainment, little wastes of time we watch to amuse ourselves with.

Yet people have lost their lives while making films/shows and that is what I’m going to take a look at here. Things are going to get a little morbid as I look at some instances where people have died just trying to keep us entertained for a few minutes. From horrific accidents to negligence to plain old stupidity. These are people that are no longer with us due to their deaths during production.

I’ll start off with a little known name and face.

JEHexum 1

Jon-Erik Hexum: Hexum was a multi talented young man, he played the violin in his school orchestra and could also play the piano. He attended both Case Western Reserve University and Michigan State University studying bio-medical engineering and then switching over to philosophy later. When he wasn’t busy studying, he used to DJ at several local radio stations in the late 70s/early 80s and it was around this time when he was discovered by Bob LeMond, the manager of then box office gold; John Travolta.

LeMond convinced Hexum to move to Los Angeles to start auditioning for movie roles. Hexum’s early career was a slow one as he lost several parts to other actors. Eventually, he landed a role in a pilot called; Voyager from the Unknown (1982) which was then turned into a TV series called; Voyagers! (1982-1983) where Hexum played a time traveller; Phineas Bogg. The series was short lived and only lasted one season, but Jon-Erik Hexum’s good looks made an impression and he was cast in the TV movie; Making of a Male Model (1983).

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He would then land a role in the TV series; Hotel (1984) and even got his first major role in a film when he was cast in; The Bear (1984) a biopic telling the real life story of college football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. By 1984, Hexum was slowly emerging as a talent worth investing in and started to get more and more offers. He decided to take on the role of Mac Harper in the TV series; Cover Up (1984-1985). Mac Harper (Jon-Erik Hexum) was an undercover CIA operative posing as a male model.

On 12th October 1984, they were filming the seventh episode of the show at the 20th Century Fox lot. A scene for this episode required Hexum’s character to load a .44 Magnum handgun and he was given a working gun with some blank cartridges to practise his scene during breaks in filming. Under the supervision of a prop master who instructed Hexum on the correct way to hold and load the gun. After several attempts at loading and unloading the gun, Hexum decided to lighten to mood on the film set and play a little joke. He unloaded all but one of the blanks from the gun and pretended to play Russian roulette. At 5:15 PM, Hexum held the gun to his temple and reportedly said: “Oh well, what the Hell!” and pulled the trigger.

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While there are no bullets in blanks, wadding is used in the cartridges to seal in a small amount of gunpowder to still give the effect of a real gunshot. The close range of the shot meant the distance was short enough to still create damage, even from a blank. The wadding from the blank cartridge hit Hexum’s temple, shattered his skull and the shattered pieces of his skull penetrated his brain causing massive haemorrhaging. Jon-Erik Hexum was rushed to Beverly Hills Medical Center and underwent five hours of surgery to repair his wounds. His injuries proved too severe and six days later on 18th October, Hexum was declared brain dead.

The episode of Cover Up that Hexum had been working on aired two weeks after his death. The show carried on without Hexum’s character and on the 24th November 1984, it was written into the show that Mac Harper (Jon-Erik Hexum) had died while on an assignment.
The episode ended with a memoriam written by (producer) Glen Larson: “They say when a star dies, its light continues to shine across the universe for millenniums. Jon-Erik Hexum died in October of this year, but his light will continue to brighten our lives forever…and ever.

Jon-Erik Hexum death was ruled accidental and died aged 26.

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Jon-Erik Hexum:One of my strongest traits is confidence; at times I’m amazed at my confidence, even when it doesn’t make sense that I should be.

Next up is one of the most famous film production deaths and one with some similarities to Jon-Erik Hexum.

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Brandon Bruce Lee: The son of legendary martial artist and charismatic film star, Bruce Lee. At the age of 18 Brandon attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in theatre. A year later, he moved to New York City where he took acting lessons at the famed Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Brandon always refused to live in the shadow of his globally famous father and wanted to carve his own career his own way. Lee got his first credited acting role in; Kung Fu: The Movie (1986) which was a made for TV movie sequel to the famous 1970s TV series Kung Fu.

Legacy of Rage (1986) was Lee’s first role as a lead. This was the only film Brandon would make in Hong Kong. He would also return to the Kung Fu franchise when he starred in the TV pilot; Kung Fu: The Next Generation (1987). Slowly starting to emerge as a movie star, Lee began taking on more and more roles. He also starred in low budget action film; Laser Mission (1989).

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As the 90s came around, Brandon started to get noticed and appeared in several notable action films. Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) marked Lee’s first American film début where he stared alongside Dolph Lundgren. 1991 was also when Brandon signed a three picture deal with 20th Century Fox with his first film for the studio being; Rapid Fire (1992). Also in 1992, Lee signed on to star in his big breakthrough film; The Crow.

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The Crow was a supernatural/action/thriller based on the James O’ Barr graphic novel of the same name. Lee played Eric Draven, a musician brought back from the dead by a mysterious crow to extract revenge after he and his fiancée are attacked and murdered in their home the day before they are set to be married. One scene in the film had Eric (Brandon Lee) return home to find his fiancée being raped. Draven interrupts the intrusion but is overpowered by the gang of attackers and is shot. It was during this scene when Brandon received the injury that would lead to his death.

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The scene was shot near the end of production on 31st March, 1993. As Eric returns home to find his fiancée being raped, one of the gang members, Funboy (Michael Massee) points a .44 Magnum at Eric and fires. A previously filmed scene required using the same gun loaded with dummy cartridges fitted with real bullets but no powder or primer, to be loaded in the revolver for a close-up shot to show the gun was actually loaded. The gun was not checked properly for the scene where Eric is shot and at some point during production, one of the bullets became lodged in the barrel of the gun. The gun was reloaded with blanks for the shooting scene with a live powder charge and primer, but no actual bullet. As Michael Massee fired the gun at Brandon Lee, the blank cartridge exploded with force similar to firing a real bullet and as a bullet was lodged in the barrel of the gun, this caused the .44 Magnum to work as a fully operational and loaded gun. The previously lodged bullet hit Lee in the abdomen and he fell backwards as the cast and crew believed he was acting and were unaware he was shot for real. When the crew realised there had been a problem, Brandon was rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington and underwent 6 hours of surgery and he was pronounced dead at 1:03 P.M on April 1st.

Most of The Crow had been completed when Brandon died as the film was in the final week of production. However, director, Alex Proyas felt he didn’t want to continue with the movie and it sat on the self for several months. It was Lee’s fiancée, Eliza Hutton and his mother, Linda Lee Cadwell who urged Proyas to finish the film. As doubles, clever CGI and editing were employed to finish up the last few shots of the film and The Crow was finally released in 1994.

Brandon Lee’s death was ruled an accident after a lengthy investigation and died he aged 28.

Now here, I’d like to point out some strange coincidences/connections related to Brandon’s death…

The same make of gun was used in both of the Jon-Erik Hexum and Brandon Lee deaths, a .44 Magnum. The two deaths were also caused via the use of blank cartridges.

Part of the plot of The Crow is a couple who’s lives are ended just before they are due to be married. Brandon and his fiancée Eliza we set to be married on April 17 1993, a little over two weeks after Brandon died.

Brandon Lee plays a character who is shot and killed in The Crow and Brandon himself died via a gunshot received on a film set. In the re-edited version of his father, Bruce Lee’s film; Game of Death (1978). Bruce’s character is shot and believed to be killed while on a film set.

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Brandon Lee:Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

I have saved the worst for last as I look at the deaths of three people killed at the same time during one of the most infamous and horrific on set tragedies ever.

VMorrow 1 Vic Morrow kids

Vic Morrow, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen: This really is a tough one to write about as it involves the death of not only a respected film actor, but also the death of two very innocent children. All while including some major names working in films during the 80s.

Vic Morrow’s acting carer began with the film; Blackboard Jungle (1955) and he even appeared alongside Elvis Presley in the movie King Creole (1958). By the late 50s/early 60s, Vic had moved into TV and had roles in shows like; The Restless Gun (1957-1959), The Lawless Years (1959-1961), The Outlaws (1960-1962) as well as other popular TV shows of the time. It was Morrow being cast in the lead role of Sergeant “Chip” Saunders in the World War II drama TV series; Combat! (1962-1967) that put him on the map, he even directed a few episodes of the show himself.

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As the 70s rolled around, Morrow had established himself as a worthy actor and director, plying his skills as a writer and director with the Spaghetti Western; A Man Called Sledge (1970). He also made a very memorable appearance as the local sheriff in the classic road movie; Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974). In; The Bad News Bears (1976), Morrow showed his more comedic talent. While now making movies, Vic never forgot his TV roots and still made appearances in various shows through the 70s including; Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, McCloud, Charlie’s Angels and Sarge. In 1982, Vic Morrow was cast in; Twilight Zone: The Movie, an anthology movie based off the classic TV series of the same name.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie used four stories inspired by episodes of TV series and updated them for the 80s. Each of the four stories were helmed by famous movie directors of the time, John Landis (Time Out), Steven Spielberg (Kick the Can), Joe Dante (It’s a Good Life), George Miller (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet). Bill Connor (Vic Morrow) was a racist, bigot in the first segment of the film; Time Out. Bill becomes enraged when he is passed over for a promotion at work for a Jewish co-worker and while at a bar drinking with a few friends, he becomes outspoken and beings a tirade of racial slurs against various races. As he leaves the bar, the supernatural tone of the story begins as Bill finds himself in various time lines and locales including; World War II where he is believed to be a Jewish man being pursued by Nazi SS officers, rural South during the 1940s where he is seen as a black man by a group of Ku Klux Klansmen and finally, he finds himself in a jungle during the Vietnam War. It was during filming this section of the story where the tragedy that lead to the three deaths occurred.

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On 23rd July, 1982 in Valencia, Santa Clarita they were filming a very dangerous stunt where Bill Connor (Vic Morrow) had to try to save two Vietnamese children (7-year-old Myca Dinh Le and 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen) from American troops and a low hovering helicopter that was terrorising the village they were trapped in. The stunt required Morrow to run trough a river and underneath the low hovering helicopter with the two children under his arms, all during a 2 o’ clock in the morning shoot. It has been reported that Morrow, while holding two children and waiting for the start of filming said; “How did I let them talk me into doing this scene? I should have asked for a stunt double” Everything was set up for the tricky stunt and camera began to roll, Vic’s direction was to run under the helicopter, through the river to the other side all while there was gunfire and explosions going on near by. Morrow held both Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi under his arms and began the dangerous stunt. As he ran under the helicopter through the river, director John Landis kept ordering the the helicopter the hover lower and lower to get a more exciting shot. Just as Vic was directly under the helicopter, a large mortar effect was ordered to explode but the effect was detonated while the helicopter’s tail was directly above it. This caused the tail rotor of the helicopter to fail and the helicopter began to fall. At the same time, Morrow had accidentally dropped one of the children, Renee Shin-Yi Chen, Morrow tried to reach out to grab Chen as the helicopter fell to the ground. Vic Morrow and Myca Dinh Le were decapitated and mutilated by the helicopter’s top rotor blades while Shin-Yi Chen was crushed to death by one of the helicopter’s skids.

To be honest, there is a hell of a lot to cover with this whole accident, there was civil and criminal action against the film-makers that lasted almost 10 years, the two children were hired illegally, there was massive fallout from the accident and it changed the way films were made forever. Too much to cover here, but I may do a more in-depth look at the accident later. But anyway, it was a terrible, horrific accident that resulted in the unnecessary death of three people.

The three deaths were ruled as an accident. Vic Morrow was 53, Myca Dinh Le was 7 and Renee Shin-Yi Chen was 6.

There is a little addition to this story I’d like to point out though. Just going back to the Brandon Lee accident for a second. The scene in which Brandon was shot was actually caught on film, however the footage was destroyed after the investigation into his death. I bring this up as the the scene of this accident was also filmed, but unlike the Brandon Lee footage…it was never destroyed. In fact, the video is all too easy to find via a simple internet search. I did find the clip myself just to see how easy it was to get hold of. Though I decided not to watch the clip, I was just curious how easy it was to find…no, I’m not posting it here.

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Vic Morrow:Sure, the reviews were great…but you would’ve thought they’d picked me up out of an ashtray, and made me a star. Hell, I’d already done Shakespeare and Chekhov and all those other cats.

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