The Crow: City of Angels (USA, 1996)

Three years after Brandon Lee’s final film, a new avenger emerges in the form of Swiss actor Vincent Perez in this sequel that has a connection to the original.

In Los Angeles, former street girl Sarah has embraced the Gothic lifestyle of the city and has found work as a tattoo artist. She never has forgotten her connection to Eric Draven, who years ago had returned from the dead to avenge the death of himself and his fiancée Shelly Webster. She has been having dreams of someone having a similar fate and her premonitions comes true.

She meets Ashe Crawford, a mechanic who was with his son Danny. When Danny and Ashe accidentally witness a crime from a gang led by sadistic crime lord Judah, they are ordered to be executed. Neko, Spider Monkey, Kai, and Curve kill both Ashe and Danny and puts them in the nearby bay. When Ashe awakens, Sarah guides him and tells him that the crow is the one who brought him back to seek revenge for himself and Danny. Sporting face paint courtesy of his son’s paints, Ashe is now the Crow and his mission for revenge begins.

With the success of The Crow, Brandon Lee’s final film, in 1994, one would have never imagined a sequel would be made. But in a day of age where successful films must turn out sequels to capitalize on the original, it was inevitable. However, one thing is for sure. No matter what, this and the other two sequels will always have a comparison to the original film. And yet, this and other two sequels, Salvation and Wicked Prayer, have new stories and new leads with the Crow being a spiritual figure who helps our lead seek revenge for themselves and a loved one.

The only difference between this and the other two films is that this one actually has a connection to the original film. The connection comes in the form of Sarah, the street wise Detroit girl who knew of Eric Draven’s resurrection as The Crow in his quest for revenge. Originally played by Rochelle Davis, the role is now played as a Goth tattoo artist in L.A. played by Mia Kirshner. We even get a glimpse of the mask Eric has that inspires his face paint in the original film.

However, the reason to see this is the curiosity of who the new Crow is. Enter Vincent Perez, a Swiss-born actor who takes up the mantle of the avenger here. While Perez attempts to make the character of Ashe Crawford his own, the issue is the look he sports. He seems to have a too close resemblance to the late Brandon Lee and that is destined to draw comparisons. While Ashe uses magic as a means to show the difference between himself and Eric Draven, the look is just a bit much. Thankfully, the two next Crows in the film franchise, Salvation’s Alex Corvis and Wicked Prayer’s Jimmy Cuervo sport the face paint but also different looks that don’t have the comparison to Lee the way Perez pulls here.

The villains of the film are also quite intriguing, especially with a focus mainly on both Richard Brooks’ lead villain Judah and Iggy Pop’s Curve. While the film has the late Power Ranger star Thuy Trang as the fighter Kai and a future Punisher in Thomas Jane’s perverted Nemo, it is more about Iggy Pop’s Curve who is similar to David Patrick Kelly’s T-Bird as he gets more screen time before he finally gets his. And like the original, each death scene shows the sign of the Crow in different fashions. If there is a gripe besides Perez’s look compared to Lee, it is the finale of the film. It becomes a bit well, meh complete with some very bad looking CGI thrown in. It didn’t feel real enough to satisfy this reviewer.

The Crow: City of Angels attempts to throw something fresh for a sequel, but serves more like an essential reboot of the original, thanks in part to Vincent Perez looking too much like the late Brandon Lee and the very hokey finale. It’s not a bad sequel, but it doesn’t compare to the original nor will it ever.

WFG RATING: B-

A Miramax production in association with Jeff Most Productions. Director: Tim Pope. Producers: Edward R. Pressman and Jeff Most. Writer: David S. Goyer; based on the comic book by James O”Barr. Cinematography: Jean-Yves Escoffier. Editing: Michael N. Knue and Anthony Redman.

Cast: Vincent Perez, Mia Kirshner, Richard Brooks, Iggy Pop, Thomas Jane, Vincent Castellanos, Thuy Trang, Eric Acosta, Ian Dury, Tracey Ellis, Beverley Mitchell.

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