THE CROW is a gorgeous black valentine that captures the essence of adolescent misery, coupled with a wildly romantic vision of the power of pure love to overcome all obstacles--even the grave. Based on the bleak comic books of James O'Barr, the film scores high on the morbid curiosity

scale because star Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was accidentally killed during production.

The streets are rain-slicked and littered with filth, smokey fires burn in the distance and daylight never seems to shine in the industrial slum where tough little street waif Sarah (Rochelle Davis) lives, and where aspiring rock star Eric Draven (Lee) and his angelic fiancee Shelley (Sofia

Shinas) are brutally slaughtered by hoods in the employ of crime boss/slumlord Top Dollar (Michael Wincott). A year after he and Shelley have been laid to rest, Draven claws his way out of the grave. He's met by a crow perched on his headstone, his guide between the worlds of the living and the

dead, and sets about tracking down and killing those responsible for the murders.

THE CROW aims higher than the average revenge tale, but the pallid Lee--all ferocious black hair and scary clown make-up--is almost the whole show. Michael Wincott steals some of the thunder as the Luciferesque Top Dollar; director Alex Proyas and production designer Alex McDowell stay

impressively true to the look and feel of the original comic book (which, believe it or not, quotes liberally from Rimbaud).