The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
The Crow: City of Angels (1996)

Genre: Crime Drama and Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 24 min.

Release Date: August 30th, 1996 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Tim Pope Actors: Vincent Perez, Mia Kirshner, Richard Brooks, Iggy Pop, Thomas Jane, Vincent Castellanos, Thuy Trang, Eric Acosta, Ian Dury, Tracey Ellis, Beverley Mitchell




attoo artist Sarah (Mia Kirshner) is haunted by nightmares of a traumatic incident on a dock, involving death and destruction at the hands of criminal kingpin Judah Earl (Richard Brooks), who governs her town with drugs and prostitution and fear. Away from this “city of angels,” which is basked in a permanent darkness and filth, Sarah believes that there’s a purgatory of sorts, a place where restless souls wander, waiting for a chance to right the wrongs in their lives. And Judah has a wealth of comeuppance heading his way.

The victim in Sarah’s dreams was Ashe Corven (Vincent Perez), who was shot, bound in barbed wire with his young son, and thrown into the river. But thanks to some supernatural influences – and an insatiable desire for revenge – Corven is back from the dead. And by following the guidance of a large black crow that visits Sarah’s home, she’s inspired to retrieve Ashe and give him a place to stay.

Based on James O’Barr’s comic strip and comic book series, this sequel retains the morbidity, violence, and BDSM themes from the original – along with contrasting religious components, which actually play nicely against the unrelenting deviances. Sadly, it also retreads plenty of familiar ground, telling about the same story through choppy flashbacks and blurry visions. It’s every bit as weird and somber, with the same pairing of a young woman and a pasty vigilante tracking down a hierarchy of villains, all of whom dress in black leather and clownish makeup as rock music thunders in the background. Plus, there’s even an Asian villainess (Thuy Trang), twinning Bai Ling’s supporting role from 1994 – an odd selection to duplicate. “The Crow: City of Angels” is virtually a remake.

“We killed you, man!” As before, this pitch-black, neo-noir superhero flick bears a resemblance to Tim Burton’s “Batman” pictures, in which the larger-than-life feats and bright colors have been swapped out for bloodshed and general aberrance. Here, the torture and nudity are a touch more extreme, but the absence of comic relief, the goth wardrobes, and the muted palette are unmistakably similar. It’s even difficult not to compare the Crow’s stylings with Batman’s nemesis, the Joker.

However, unintentional humor finds its way into the bleakness, particularly when Thomas Jane, as minion Nemo, mimes masturbating for nearly a minute in real-time. Likewise, a major portion of the film is reiteration, predominantly through repetitive flashbacks, which stretch out the overly simplistic revenge plot. After all, there aren’t that many culprits; and Ashe doesn’t have much interest in doing anything except checking off names on his kill-list.

“How do you stop a man who’s already dead?” Admittedly, there’s a modicum of entertainment value to be found in a ruthless protagonist mercilessly tormenting and executing a band of exceptionally unfeeling antagonists; but it’s certainly not enough to warrant a feature-length film. And this isn’t the first time all of this is being done, with these same characters in nearly identical scenarios.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10