Alex Proyas' 1994 adaptation of James O'Barr's cult hit comic, The Crow, featured a star-making performance by Brandon Lee, a brilliant soundtrack consisting of the period's most popular artists, and was a visually stunning piece of modern gothic cinema. The film went on to become one of the highest grossing releases of that year, in spite of (or, perhaps, thanks in part to) the on-the-set death of Lee; a victim of a prop weapons malfunction. While one would think the death of the film's star would have buried it's franchise potential with him, Miramax thought otherwise. Another music video director was hired (Pope), a new roster of rock stars were assembled (by Courtney Love, no less), and French superstar Vincent Perez donned the whitewash and leather coat as the series moved from Detroit to The City of Angels.
Ashe (Perez) and his son witness a murder committed by a group of thugs in the employ of vicious druglord Judah (Brooks), and are summarily executed themselves. Ashe, however, is brought back to take his revenge under the guidance of the titular crow. Ashe doesn't understand his situation, but Sarah (Kirshner) does; she bore witness to a similar resurrection many years before, in the guise of Eric Draven. Sarah's all grown up now, doesn't talk like Peppermint Patty anymore, and get's a lot of close-up shots of her eyes. She's also fairly well versed in crow mythology, tells Ashe that he's been brought back to avenge his own death, and conveniently paints his face to look just like Brandon Lee, thus giving us a sense of some form of continuity.
Ashe hops on his motorcycle and hits the streets of Tim Pope's cardboard city seeking his prey, killing them off in dull and predictable ways. Judah, however, is one of those drug dealers that has their own personal blind witch who can see the future, and devises a plan to kill the source of Ashe's power. Can the crow do something or another before the bad guy does whatever to the whoosits....oh fuck it.
If you've seen the first film you know what happens. Wanna know why? Because they are the same fucking film. Sure it's a different city, different villain, and a different Crow, but it's still the same old song and dance. However, this time around, the production values are of the made-for-cable variety, with stupefyingly bad performances all around. Perez may be a superstar in France, but in this film he's little more than Jean Claude Van Hamme. I found myself laughing aloud every time he delivered one of his pre-kill soliloquies, stumbling over dialogue like Count Chocula hopped-up on speedballs. Iggy Pop is also featured in the film, basically acting like Iggy Pop, except someone's given him a gun. He's supposed to be menacing, but he looks more like an elderly man trick-or-treating as the singer from Kajagoogoo. Mia Kirshner's admittedly hot, but she does little more than stare longingly directly into the camera, and, to be honest, I wanted to kick her in the face after about twenty extreme close-ups of her getting all whimsical.
The whole film looks as though it were shot in the midst of a sandstorm on Mars, with literally every frame bathed in a putrid burnt orange glow. Of course, this effect also helps to mask, to some degree, the model train set quality cityscapes and drab set design. It's really quite remarkable that this hatchet job ever saw the light of day, especially when one compares this film to Proyas' highly stylised original. Even City of Angel's soundtrack, consisting of a bunch of throwaway tracks by the likes of Korn, Hole, and Deftones, pales in comparison to the original despite it's star studded pedigree. It's as if everyone involved with this production decided that they just couldn't be arsed to put forth anything more than the bare minimum of effort, and that includes Dimension, who unleashed this atrocity on an essentially barebones "Collector's Edition" DVD that somehow suggests that a widescreen version of the movie is a "special feature". Avoid.