The resulting film was disliked by most Stateside genre reviewers and did poor box-office. Which is a shame as The Shadow mythos has much to it and the film is not at all a bad one. Although owing an undeniable debt of inspiration to the cinematic Dark Knight fad inspired by Batman (1989), The Shadow is certainly one of the best of the post-Batman dark avenging superhero films. It never quite inhabits the same dark recesses that the Tim Burton Batman films did it never takes us along with it into the darkness that inhabits mens souls, it only talks about it. As a result, The Shadow is more of a comic-book adventure than ironically the Batman films were it moves more like Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) than the Tim Burton Batman.
The Shadow has been put together with much care and attention. It is a surprisingly long film over two hours. Russell Mulcahy creates some wonderful visual images there is one perfect shot that could have been taken direct from a comic-book panel where The Shadow turns on the stairs before heading up into the rest of the hotel and a huge cape billows up around behind him. There are fabulous effects of the Shadow moving about in digitized blurs and transforming back into Alec Baldwin, of living daggers and billboards coming to life, and one superb piece where an entire hotel manifests out of thin air. Jerry Goldsmith turns in a wonderfully haunting score.
The script comes from David Koepp, best known for writing films like Jurassic Park (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), Spider-Man (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005), and later as director of films such as The Trigger Effect (1996), Stir of Echoes (1999), Secret Window (2004), Ghost Town (2008) and Premium Rush (2012). Koepp displays a love for the paraphernalia of juvenile spy fiction invisible ink messages, a network of compressed air message tubes around the city, streetwise spies, an ordinary alleyway whose dirty walls and fire-escapes turn around to reveal the entrance to a secret hideout. The production design is rich and opulent, especially the interiors of Cranstons house and the Monolith hotel, while the exteriors create a dark stylized version of 1930s New York.
Alec Baldwin does well, bringing out the expression of tightly controlled anger that he can do well. Although, when it comes to the rest of the role, Baldwin is not as expressive as it needs him to be he certainly lacks conviction in the part of Yingko. Penelope Ann Miller is annoyingly vapid too much of a modern woman and Tim Curry irritatingly craven. However, the film has a great performance from John Lone, known for excellent work in films like Iceman (1984), The Year of the Dragon (1986), The Last Emperor (1987) and M. Butterfly (1993). John Lone is an actor who has never been the major star he is eminently capable of being but who never fails to command the show every time he appears in a film. The role of Shiwan Khan is one that could have gone one-note but Lone makes it at turns dangerous, monomaniacal and genial. He gets some great lines I would no more destroy you than I would a Rembrandt and handles them beautifully. The screen lights up whenever he and Alec Baldwin are placed up against each other.
Russell Mulcahys other films of interest have been: the killer boar saga Razorback (1984); Highlander (1986) and Highlander II: The Quickening (1991); Ricochet (1991), a psycho-thriller about an ex-con seeking revenge; Talos the Mummy/Tale of the Mummy (1998); the serial killer thriller Resurrection (1999); the tv mini-series remake of On the Beach (2000); the tv mini-series remake of Jules Vernes Mysterious Island (2005); the adventure tv mini-series The Curse of King Tuts Tomb (2006); Resident Evil: Extinction (2007); and The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008). Mulcahy also wrote/produced the killer shark film Bait (2012).
(Winner for Best Musical Score, Nominee for Best Director (Russell Mulcahy), Best Supporting Actor (John Lone), Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects and Best Production Design at this sites Best of 1994 Awards).