The Crow: The Death of Brandon Lee
The Crow was filmed in Wilmington, NC, and the conditions that the actors were subjected to were not ideal; Brandon Lee was often forced to film barefoot in freezing conditions. Additionally, because the film had a dark mood, the actors had to film while it was raining. If it was not raining, then a rainmaker was used to fix the problem.
Lee’s filming schedule usually consisted of waking up at 4 p.m. in the afternoon to film, and going to bed around 9 a.m., which would quickly exhaust anyone. The real disaster began on March 31 at 12:30 a.m. when a gun scene commenced. The scene is supposed to have portrayed Lee’s character, Eric, coming through a door with a grocery bag, being shot multiple times. Michael Massee, who played Fanboy, the movie rival of Lee’s character, was supposed to shoot his .44-caliber revolver from about 15-feet away. After this shot, Lee was supposed to ignite a squib, an explosive effect, that would make it seem as if the grocery bag that Lee was holding was shot. Unfortunately, The Crow’s weapon specialist had left the set because the film’s use of semi-automatic weapons had already ended.
Massee then fired the .44-caliber revolver and shot Lee, with the squib exploding just as expected. Lee fell to the ground, but no one realized that he had actually been shot until the cast and crew realized that he was bleeding heavily from his side. Lee was then rushed to Wilmington’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center at about 1 am. Lee was on the table for about five hours and suffered from vascular and intestinal damage, in addition to stem bleeding. Lee’s condition was so severe that he received 60 pints of blood transfusions.
Lee was then transferred to the Trauma-Neuro intensive care unit, and died at about 1 pm, with his fiancée, Eliza Hutton, by his side. Hutton flew in from Los Angeles as soon as she heard what had happened. The official cause of Lee’s death was disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, which is a complex way of saying that Lee was facing constant internal hemorrhaging due to the inability for his blood to clot.
Interesting enough, Brandon Lee’s father, Bruce Lee, also died young, at the age of 32. Brandon Lee was just 28 years old when he died.
Brandon Lee was then replaced by a stunt double, Chad Stahelski.
One of the main causes of Lee’s death was that because of a lack of dummy cartridges to fill the .44-caliber revolver with, one of the prop masters decided to remove the gunpowder from some of the live rounds, also replacing the bullet tips. This was supposedly thought to have made the set of dummy rounds needed for shooting. Upon shooting, the bullet tip was accidentally freed and became wedged in either the cylinder or barrel of the gun.
A firearms consultant was soon hired. Filming continued, and the film was released on May 11, 1994.
There does not appear to have been any changes in gun regulations as a result of Lee’s death. This is probably because the dummy used for the .44-caliber revolver was faulty to begin with.