It’s with both joy and deep sadness that we celebrate the birth of BRANDON LEE, who would have been 54 today. A man who didn’t seem to mind being born in the shadow of his legendary father Bruce Lee. A man with a big heart, a gentle soul, phenomenal martial arts skills, and the charisma of a rising star who was poised for greatness. Despite being the son of one of the most iconic figures in cinema history, he soared to stardom at a young age with highly memorable roles in martial arts films Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and Rapid Fire (1992). His skills were undeniable and his likability was off the charts. Thanks to these wildly entertaining thrill rides, and characters that demanded your attention and adoration, he landed the role that he knew would be the dream role that put him on the map. That role was THE CROW.
He was so excited to be part of this project that he ignored numerous warnings from friends who insisted the production was cursed after a series of accidents and complications that plagued the film. He got through the most grueling part of filming that included performing with no shirt or shoes in the rain in 30 degree weather and several elaborate stunts and fight scenes. He was counting the days until he could finish the last few minor scenes and marry his fiance Eliza Hutton. Sadly and tragically; carelessness on the set led to Lee’s untimely death. Apparently, a chunk of lead was lodged in a gun that was supposed to contain only blanks. The gun was used in the scene where Eric Draven (Lee) walks in on a gang of thugs who have broken into his apartment. Actor Michael Massee (Funboy) fired the gun and Brandon hit the floor. He lay there writhing in pain and the crew thought it was part of the scene. They soon realized, to their horror, that the lead from the gun had hit him in the stomach. It was later learned that it tore through his stomach and was lodged in his spine. He was pronounced dead March 31, 1993. His wedding was to be a little over 2 weeks later on April 17th.
I must admit; I’m writing this article because the films of Brandon Lee have made a huge impact on me. Something about Lee and his very few films grabbed me and I knew that he was going to be a huge star. His death hit me harder than any other artist’s death in my lifetime and I cannot fully understand why it still affects me so deeply to this day. I followed the career of Brandon before he was ever considered for The Crow. RAPID FIRE was (and still remains) one of my favorite action films of all time. I was over the moon with excitement when I learned that he was poised to play the title role in a Gothic horror tale, based on the comic, about a rock musician who is murdered and his soul is brought back from the grave by a Crow to exact brutal revenge on the men who murdered him. I followed the pitfalls of production every week in Entertainment Weekly (back when it was good) rooting for my favorite action star to complete his dream role and give me a movie that is much closer to my personal tastes than any of his previous films.
News of his death was like a punch to the gut that I still feel to this day. The potential he had. The achingly personal performance he brought to such a fun and stylized action film. His words of wisdom that he seemed to speak directly to me. His excitement for his future with the love of his life. All of it came crashing down because of tragic and avoidable accident. He doesn’t need any help being remembered because THE CROW is a beloved genre masterpiece, but he deserves to be introduced to every new generation of movie fans because he was the real thing. An immensely talented man with the world at his feet and he deserves to live on in the hearts minds of everyone who has the privilege of watching his films.