The Crow: Salvation
directed by Bharata Nalluri
(Dimension, 2000)

Rumor alone was enough to keep me away from The Crow franchise after the first movie earned my admiration. The original cast and crew, led by the late Brandon Lee in the title role, did an excellent job with the story, but I could easily see how the concept could be turned into an embarrassingly bad ongoing series. By all reports, the second movie lived down to those fears.

It took the work of an author I respect, Chet Williamson, to draw my back to the fold. After his novel, Clash By Night, I decided to skip over the second movie and go straight to the third. The lack of a clamor surrounding it gave me pause, but at least I hadn't heard the same negative flap that doomed The City of Angels to ignominy.

Salvation definitely lacks the punch of the original. Even the violence lacks a certain elegance that made the first film so good. And Eric Mabius certainly lacks Lee's charisma in the role. That said, Salvation could have stood up fairly well if it wasn't made in the shadow of its predecessor. The tale of a devastatingly violent murder, the framing of the victim's boyfriend Alex Corvis as the killer, his execution and resurrection as the Crow certainly meets the criteria of a good Crow plot. When his finger of justice is pointed at the police who convicted him -- well, it's a dramatic dance of retribution, there's no denying that.

Unfortunately, the police involved have no redeeming qualities. In fact, it seems the corruption runs deep -- the quartet of evildoers on the force apparently have the backing of the entire department. Please. Along the way, Corvis stops to briefly give a life-changing piece of advice to a junkie stripper -- a pale shadow of the redemption of a junkie mom in the original film.

At least Salvation didn't involve another undead avenger in heavy makeup. This movie gives a different reason entirely for the harlequin look of its hero. Unfortunately, without Lee and the strong direction of #1, The Crow series is reduced to -- as a police captain puts it here -- "a clown with a bird and a rising death toll."

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 18 August 2002

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