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There are few stories in Hollywood as tragic as the death of Brandon Lee. The young actor was filming the movie The Crow in 1993 when a problem with a prop gun caused him to be shot by a squib load. Lee would die from his wound. Most of the production on The Crow had been completed and so what filming remained had Lee's stunt double stand in for him. That stunt double was named Chad Stahelski, and he would go on to direct movies of his own, like the John Wick franchise.
Chad Stahelski had been friends with Brandon Lee before making The Crow, and so the death certainly had an impact on him. He doesn't blame anybody specifically for the accident, saying that it was a combination of several small mistakes, rather than an individual screw up. According to Stahelski...
Brandon’s accident was a lot of little dumb things that got by, but it’s groupthink. All the people involved were very, very smart. You just get tired, you make one little mistake, it compounds.
There's an interesting irony in the fact that both The Crow and the first John Wick movie are about characters who act as avenging angels punishing those that did them wrong.
While it's been 25 years since Brandon Lee's death, the event still has had reverberations through Hollywood. Stahelski's own John Wick movies use a lot of guns, and thus safety is a major concern in order to be sure nothing like what happened to Lee happens again. According to the director's comments to Yahoo, a lot of the safety protocols that are in use today exist because of the accident.
You know where that leads to? John Wick is 90% guns, firearms. A lot of the safety or the methodology we use, it came about because of that accident. It’s retroactive, which sucks, it’s like most fucking things in life. No one wants to change anything until something bad happens. But I know a great deal about that story, and there’s no one thing that you could point a finger at, it was a lot of little dumb mistakes that shouldn’t have happened.
Brandon Lee clearly had talent and a lot of promise and a wonderful career in front of him when this terrible random act took all that away. The Crow was evidence of that if nothing else.
There's been an ongoing attempt to remake The Crow in recent years but the project has been perpetually stalled for one reason or another. The original film's tragic history is clearly part of the reason many fans are against the concept of a remake. Whatever actor tries to take on that role has huge shoes to fill.
I can't help but notice that if Brandon Lee were still with us he'd be the same age as Keanu Reeves. Someplace there's an alternate universe where Chad Stahelski is directing his friend Brandon Lee in the John Wick franchise, and the third entry is about to hit theaters.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum opens tonight.