There’s a long history in Hollywood of shelved projects, abandoned franchise dreams, stalled careers, and entire genres that lost favor or profitability. 9 times out 10 these problems and failures are the result of a myriad of complex issues and contributing factors. Sometimes though… Sometimes you can pretty much pin everything on one film that fucked it up for everyone. Whether it’s a movie that killed a rival project, destroyed a filmmaker’s career, squashed some brilliant idea, or took the shine off of an entire genre, this CHUD List will catalog the films that were just total, unapologetic Cockblocks.
Day 2 (Brandon Lee’s Future Cockblocked!)
THE COCK: Brandon Lee’s Everything: Future, Career, Marriage, Life
The story’s a well-known Hollywood tragedy: Brandon Lee, the 28-year-old son of the legendary martial arts master, Bruce Lee, followed in his father’s footsteps to become an actor. After a couple of action films, including Showdown in Little Tokyo, with Dolph Lundgren and Rapid Fire with Powers Boothe, Lee signed on to star in an adaptation of a dark comic book written by James O’Barr in what promised to become a breakout role. He later signed a multi-picture deal with 20th century Fox. Sadly, though, like his father, he would die young before seeing the success that that breakout role would bring. At the time Lee was engaged to be married to fiancee Eliza Hutton, whom he had met three years prior.
THE BLOCK: The Crow (1994)
The aforementioned adaptation and subsequent cause of Lee’s untimely death via a piece of a dislodged bullet from an improperly maintained gun used as a prop. Ironically, the film concerned a protagonist who was also shot, but returned from the grave to seek revenge for himself and his likewise murdered fiance. The Crow was directed by Australian filmmaker, Alex Proyas, written by David J. Schow and John Shirley, and featured cinematography by Dariusz Wolski and production design by Alex McDowell. At a budget of approximately $15 million, the film would go on to gross a total of $50 million, in spite of – or due to – the specter of Lee’s tragedy hanging over it even to this day. But Lee’s performance was widely praised, as was other elements of the film such as the as the look, tone, camera work and action. To date The Crow is still widely considered to be a genre classic.
How it Went Down:
On March, 31, 1993, the film was late into the shooting schedule, with most of the principal photography completed. A scene where Lee’s character, Eric Draven, was to walk into his apartment to see his fiancee, Shelley Webster (Sofia Shinas) being attacked by four hoodlums was being filmed. In the scene, Lee was to walk in and be shot by one of the thugs, Funboy (Michael Massee). Reportedly, the second unit was behind schedule and decided to make dummy slugs from real cartridges by removing bullets from the slug casings, emptying the gunpowder, then replacing the bullets into the casings. Earlier, the dummy slugs were used in a closeup scene of bullets being loaded into the same gun that was later used in the fateful scene with Lee. Later, as the gun was being loaded with blanks for the scene, one of the dummy bullets, or a piece of it, had become lodged into the barrel. So when the gun was loaded with blanks for the scene with Lee, and one was fired, the lodged bullet was propelled into Lee’s abdomen. He was rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC, where he died despite a six-hour operation to remove the bullet.
How the bullet actually became lodged in the gun was never clearly determined. After the investigation was completed, Lee’s mother and Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, settled a lawsuit against the production company. However, she supported Proyas’ decision to complete the film, which was done via the use of body doubles, some rewriting and digitization of Lee’s face in some scenes. Michael Massee was the actor who fired the gun and spoke about the experience to Extra in 2005 (go to the 1:16 mark) for the first time:
Bullet Dodged, or Greatness Robbed:
After the accident, conspiracy theories sprang up that Lee was the subject of the same curse as his father. Another was that he was possibly murdered. Yet another rumor was that Lee knew something was going to happen during the shooting of the film. A less salacious rumor was that, had he lived, Lee was to be up for a role in Mortal Kombat. What is certain, however, is that this remains one of the more notable tragedies in move history, made all the worse by the fact that it was a very preventable accident that took the life of a talented young man needlessly. A bullet that shouldn’t have been there was and tremendous potential was snuffed out as a result.
Verdict: Greatness Robbed.
The Alternate Universe:
Brandon Lee didn’t take the obvious path expected of him. For instance, he was offered the role of his father in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story but turned it down. However, assuming he liked working with Proyas, maybe we could have had the following:
was never as good as
DISCUSS THIS on the CHUD Message Board
Like / Share it on Facebook (above or below) if you think it’s great!