There are varying theories on the cause of death surrounding Brandon Lee, but I am only going to focus on one which is the one police have concluded to be the most accurate and probable.
It is March 30th, 1993, Wilmington, North Carolina. Brandon prepares to complete what is expected to be the last night of scenes that involve weapons. After this night, there is only 8 more working nights before, what is to be his star launching film, is complete. Brandon speaks to his mother on the phone. After indicating his joy in this being the final night of weapons scenes, he ends the conversation with the words "love you momzos" and heads to the set. It is after midnight, the first few minutes of March 31st signify the start of another shooting night and tragically, the count down to the end of Brandon's life. The scene in which Eric Draven walks in on his beloved Shelly being raped is to be shot. After several walk-through sequences, it is decided to go for real. Everyone is in place. Michael Massee (FunBoy) is handed the pistol, which he is to point and fire at Brandon (Eric Draven) as we walks into the room. Alex Proyas calls for "quiet" and then "action". Brandon walks in, Michael Massee pulls the trigger, Brandon falls to the ground and Alex Proyas calls "cut". Everyone relaxes and starts moving around. Brandon, however, is still on the ground. Known for his practical jokes, Brandon is thought to be extending the scene in his usual comical fashion. However, it becomes apparent that this is no joke and tragedy has just occurred.
The Official Investigation Investigators have summarized that a slug (tip of a bullet) was lodged in the chamber of the gun Michael Massee (FunBoy) fired. It is believed this occurred when the weapon had been unloaded weeks prior to the flashback scene. In a previously shot scene, the weapon was loaded with dummy bullets. These are cartridges, which have no gunpowder, but still have the slug at the end. The center pin, or the primer, is pre-fired by tapping it in so there is no chance of the slug being fired when the trigger is pulled and the firing hammer hits the primer. Dummy bullets are used for front view, close-up scenes of the weapon to give an appearance that it is loaded with real bullets. Point of interest here, the production staff purchased real ammo and created their own dummy rounds. Live ammo should never be used for creating dummy rounds. During this particular scene, the trigger was pulled and the gun made a strange sound. The chamber as well as all the primers had been checked. The barrel, however, was not checked. All the primers were depressed in, so the gun was put up, thought to be cleared properly. It is theorized the sound heard by the crew was a live primer that had not been pre-fired. When the primer fired off, there was just enough force or powder left to dislodge the slug from the cartridge and lodge it in the barrel. The next time it was used was the night Brandon was shot. On the night of the rape scenes, the pistol was loaded with blanks. Blanks are cartridges that have no slug, but have twice the gunpowder in them to emit a loud noise and fire flash. In the process of readying the weapon for the rape scene, the slug lodged in the barrel was undetected by the prop-master who neglected to check the barrel prior to it being used. Point of interest here, the prop-master should not have been the one checking the weapon. Rather, a weapons-master should have been on-sight to do this check, but had been sent home to cut back on costs. The scene was started and Brandon walked through the door as scripted, with a grocery bag that contained a blood balloon, which would burst once the weapon was fired. As scripted, Michael Masse pointed the weapon in the direction of Brandon entering the room. Massee pulled the trigger and Brandon fell to the floor as scripted. It would be found out later that Brandon was struck in the lower abdomen area by a slug, his aorta artery severed. Point of interest here, Massee did not completely aim away from Brandon as is common safety practice. First aid was administered on the set until paramedics arrived to take Brandon to a hospital. Doctor's were unable to stop the bleeding after several operations and Brandon passed away a little after 1pm on March 31st.
This is an excerpt from the official investigation findings as detailed in official documents and in the Bridget Baiss book "The Crow: The story behind the film".
Eric Draven: It can't rain all the time.
Eric Draven: Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all childern. Do you understand? Your daughter is waiting for you out on the streets.
Sarah: If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn. People die. But real love lives forever.
Sarah: People used to think that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes... only sometimes the crow brings that soul back to set the wrong things right.
Albrecht: You, don't move!
Eric Draven: I thought cops always said, "Freeze!"
Albrecht: Well, I say "don't move." Move, Snow White, and you're dead!
Eric Draven: And I say I am dead... and I move.
Eric Draven: Little things use to mean so much to Shelley...I thought they were kind of trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.
[gazing at falling-snow crystal ball containing a mini-cemetary]
Top Dollar: Dad gave me this. Fifth birthday. He said, "Childhood's over the moment you know you're gonna die."
[Last on-camera interview]
Brandon Lee: "Because we don't know when we will die, We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens 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 thatís 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."
Directed by Alex Proyas(Dark City)
Brandon Lee ......Eric Draven
Ernie Hudson ......Albrecht
Michael Wincott ......Top Dollar
David Patrick Kelly ......T-Bird
Angel David ......Skank
Rochelle Davis ......Sarah
Bai Ling ......Myca
Laurence Mason ......Tin Tin
Michael Massey ......Funboy
Bill Raymond ......Mickey
Marco Rodriguez ......Torres
Sofia Shinas ......Shelly
Anna Thomson ......Darla
Tony Todd ......Grange
Jon Polito ......Gideon
Kim Sykes ......Annabella
Rock Taulbee ......Lead Cop
Norman Maxwell ......Roscoe
Jeff Cadiente ......Waldo
Henry Kingi ......MJ
Eric Stabenau ......Speeg
Cassandra Lawton ......Newscaster
Lou Criscuolo ......Uniform Cop #1
Todd Brenner ......Paramedic #1
Joe West ......Paramedic #2
Tom Rosales ......Sanchez
Jeff Imada ......Braeden
Tierre Turner ......Jugger
Tim Parati ......Bad Ass Criminal
James Goodall ......Medicine
Brad Laner ......Medicine
James Putnam ......Medicine
Eddie Ruscha ......Medicine
Elizabeth Thompson ......Medicine
Marston Daley ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Laura Gomel ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Rachel Hollingsworth ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Charles Levi ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Mark McCabe ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Frank Nardiello ......My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Cast not in the final version of the film
Michael Berryman ......Skull Cowboy
James O'Barr (graphic novel)
David J. Schow
Production designed by
Costume design by
Edward R. Pressman