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Esha Knows Stuff

just a  little bit of everything
 

Paying Homage To The Crow's Brandon Lee On His 57th Birthday




Honestly, where do I even begin..


Brandon Lee is someone special. Not just to me, but a lot of people. Today is February 1, 2022 which marks what would have been his 57th birthday on this crazed Earth planet. Born in Oakland, CA REPRESENTTTTT in 1965, we already knew being Bruce Lee's only son was either going to be a burden or a blessing. Ever since I was a little girl I just remember being so obsessed with Brandon Lee.


He would always train with his Dad growing up and avidly talking about martial arts. Then from eight years old, he moved to Seattle to Boston to New York, but always found himself back in the sunny side of Los Angeles, CA. After Bruce Lee died on the set of one of his movies from swelling of the brain, his legacy still lives on.





Brandon was known to be very smart in English and writing, but being a pure actor was more of his thing over martial arts. Yet, landing debut roles like Kung Fu: The Movie kinda hinted where being an action star could go.


Remember Chung Wang?? OOP. I know that's right.





Or even a superhero star?


At the time, Marvel's Stan Lee showed high interest in the potential of Brandon Lee. He saw Lee portraying Shang Chi, from comics to the big screen. Mostly because Marvel couldn't get rights to the hit tv show Kung Fu, they said, WHY NOT? Even though Lee was interested, the project never game to light.





Years later in 2021 during the rise of the pandemic, Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings, portrayed by actor Simu Liu, was released and set for immediate success on the charts. Especially given the rise of accurate culture representation, which is ever so important these days


ANYWAY... back to the birthday boy.





Back in 1994, when The Crow graced my television screen, I was hooked. There was something in my young little soul that gravitated to the deep yet tragic story written from the mind of James O' Barr. The origin story begins with O'Barr losing his girlfriend to a tragic car accident. They planned on getting married after just graduating high school. He's remarried now, but it's well known that she was the true love of his life. To be brokenhearted is an understatement of emotions from what O'Barr probably felt that that.


It led him to create The Crow comic book series. Eric Draven was James O'Barr in the story. What he felt aligned up rather quickly. The adaption led to the big screen where the magic of Brandon Lee appeared. The first time I purchased his entire series in one graphic novel YEARS ago during my first job working at the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco. Since then a dear old friend spilt beer on it, but I still carry it around like my own episode of My Strange Addiction.





The character Brandon Lee portrays in The Crow is my personal favorite. The sounds of Eric Draven's band, Hangman's Joke would pierce my ears in the best way possible. Including the original movie soundtrack. I mean:


THE CURE

NINE INCH NAILS

VIOLENT FEMMES

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE


OK.. OK.. but really. SUCH an amazing soundtrack.





When I was young, my mother sat me at the dinner table. She asked why I was so obsessed with Brandon Lee because he was dead and not alive LOL. "Make me understand." Haha, true story. I wish I could remember in detail what I said, but eight year old me with tears and a runny nose probably went something liiiiiike:


Dearest Mother,
I feel the connection of Brandon Lee as Eric Draven so clear. The Crow is a story about unconditional love, violence and timed vendetta's. When someone you love gets tortured and murdered before your eyes, I can only imagine how overwhelming that could be. Not only do you want to seek unforgivable revenge in someway at the highest limit, you're trying to mask the pain through assertive justice. Ya, there might be a fair share of rage, blood, sweat, and tears along the way, however Eric Draven is all of us. I feel his pain. We all feel his pain.

It's the balance of good and evil for meeeee.





The sad part is Brandon Lee's death could've been avoided. Michael Massee was the actor on set to grab the .44 caliber revolver filled with blanks and shoot it. At the time Lee was holding a grocery bag that had a small explosive charge inside and was only to bend and snap basically down to the ground in reaction. It all looked too perfect, but the only negative is Lee never got up from the ground as blood was leaking from his abdomen. As he was being rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, after five hours of surgery, the surgeons found a .44 caliber blank in his spine.


Sadly, on March 31, 1993, the world suffered a tragic loss due to blood loss. Brandon Lee was 28 years old.


I remember confirming this story with the one and only Ernie Hudson at my first comic book convention during a time when TV documentaries left me more confused. I really just wanted the truth just like a lot of people.





Filming proceeded with a body double. CRAZY but when all the scenes aren't filmed, I suppose business as usual. Even though Lee had a body double, Jeff Cadiente, at the time after his death, Chad Stahelski stepped in fully because he just moved and looked more like Brandon Lee on screen.





Knowing the story of James O'Barr, Eric Draven, and then Brandon Lee is painful. Because not only did Brandon Lee pass, but outside of filming, he was engaged to the beautiful, Eliza Hutton, in October 1992 in Venice, Italy.


They were set to get married after filming wrapped up for The Crow on April 17, 1993. Not even a month after Lee's sudden death.





The whole story is tragic all around. But given Brandon Lee has been such an asset in my personal life when it comes to storytelling, it only makes sense to honor him on one of his special days.


In 2018, I traveled to Seattle, WA on a work trip for two months. On Christmas Day, a friend and I went to visit the gravesite where Brandon Lee is buried. Right next to his father, Bruce Lee, the moment felt like an out of body experience. After writing my personal letter to him and setting it down on his gravestone, it was amazing to know the true impact Brandon Lee really had on a generation.


Still till this day.





Written on his gravestone is a passage from writer of The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles.


"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. 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, some afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even 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."




Brandon Lee also recites this during his last TV interview before his death.





Sometimes people who we've never met can have such an impact on us growing up from books, movies, and television. And with Brandon Lee, we are reminding that in a world where "nothing is trivial", love is something always worth fighting for.




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