Atter Brandon lee had been killed in a treak shooting accident on the set of the original Crow movie, its producers used computer graphics to complete it, continuing there is no limit to Hollywood’s cynical exploitation of a star’s box-ottice appeal, whether they be dead or alive. British pop video director Tim Pope - whose ZOO-plus promos include work tor David Bowie, Iggy Pop and The Cure - admits to some reservations at his own concerning this necrophiliac sequel. What he hoped to do was to side-step the Brandon lee issue by getting back to the cathartic purity ot James D’Barr’s original comic book. Although the setting has shitted from Detroit to Los Angeles, the stylised urban wasteland, melancholy mood and basic plot outline remain the same. Ashe (Vincent Perez) is gunned down along with his young son by

Judah (Richard Brooks) and his gang ot drug dealing low-lites, then returns 1 trom the dead to inherit Eric Draven’s

The Crow: City Dt Angels: ‘Iamentable script’ I dark mantle. Like his predecessor,

Ashe is a sad, white-laced avenger -

part-punk, part-Pierrot, all pissed ott. Sadly, like its untortunate protagonist, this ill-advised sequel is very soon dead in the water. The talents of Euro hunk Vincent Perez (La Reine Margot) are wasted on a thankless, underwritten lead role, while the reappearance at Detroit street wait Sarah (played by Mia Kershner this time) leaves us wondering how she metamorphosed into Ashe’s sexy soul mate. Dtt-setting these alienating elements , are the comforting predictability ot E the plot, Alex McDowell’s superb I production design, and Pope’s shameless pop video aesthetic - but these elements can’t disguise the shortcomings ot a lamentable script. 0n the plus side, legendary rock i survivor Iggy Pop brings raw power to . his portrayal of Judah’s side-kick. Dnly when Iggy is on screen do we really ' believe that what was dead might live ' again, it only tor a tew briet, glorious ' moments. (Nigel Floyd) The Crow: City of Angels (18) ( Tim Pope, US, 1996) Vincent Perez, Mia : Kershner, Richard Brooks. 90 mins. ; From Fri 22. General release.



Wintry Northern C hina. and a young man wanders into a police station to report a crime: ten years earlier. he alleges. his mother poisoned his father. and he has the evidence to prove it. Such is the starting point for this striking chronicle ol‘jealousy. murder and filial turmoil. The film shapes tip as a did-she-do-it'.’ but. as the story evolves in flashback. turns into a measured consideration of the moral and psychological issues in a fascinating true life case.

What drives a wife to kill her husband? What makes a son in form against his ovvn mother‘.’ These questions take on an especially sharp focus when set against the backdrop of a very traditional Chinese rural community. vvhere motherhood is

enshrined as a revered institution and the primacy of the male head of household is unchallenged.

Ilong Kong-based vvriter-producer- director Yim llo's lilm deals impressively vvith the unfolding murder plot and its subsequent investigation. but never talls into easy melodrama. ()ur sympathies shilt from character to character. and it‘s a film you’ll find yourscll pondering long alter the final


An unshovvy. adult. highly accomplished lilm like this isn't quite vvhat we expect to see from the llong Kong cinema. btit Yim certainly deserves the recognition that. say. Wong Kar-Wai and John Woo have received for their very dil'l'erent output. Good stuff. (Trevor Johnston)

.li/ll’ [)(IT The 5th Turned (‘u/(l l I?) (ii/n llu. Hung Kong. IOU-l) Sit/in (1mm. 'Iim Z/mng Hun. .llu .ling llir. 9‘) mins. .S'u/m't/es. I'i'nm l'ii IS Nov. [filth/noel]: Film/muse.

V 2,51"

I. ,x


True Blue: ‘ot minimal interest’



It’s ditticult to know exactly what to make at True Blue, a drama about the ‘mutiny’ in the Dxtord Boat Race crew in 1987. It hardly says something about the human condition, as a drama the suspense is rather limited, and as a slice of recent sporting history, it is surely at minimal interest. Here is lite as it was lived in the late 80s, with a motley collection ot plummy-voiced oarsmen struggling to tind meaning in their tedious endeavours upon the seething mass at chemical waste and viral disease that is the River Thames.

Atter Cambridge upset a decade ot Dxtord supremacy by winning the 1986 race, Dxtord coach Dan Topolski and leading rowers Donald McDonald and Rick Ross handpick the new crew from

the cream of United States talent.

1 Problems begin when Topolski sticks

to old tashioned training methods,

while the incoming Americans, with

their white teeth and all-over tans,

preter exercise in a nice warm gym

with long breaks in-between. They

i rebel, and the coach is forced to reassess his methods.

The tilm seems unable to grasp the

idea that, just because a course at

. events is tactual, it is not necessarily

interesting. The fault lies with such a flat story, so that any decent performances are small comtort amidst this wave at cliché and

inconsequence. ‘Chariots at Fire on

l water’ some are calling it and - just as those chariots would in reality


The Day The Sun Turned Cold: ‘tascinating true lite case’

i l

1 interest in True Blue sinks very quickly I

and without a trace. (Anwar Brett) True Blue (15) (Ferdinand Fairfax, UK, 1995) Dominic West, Johan Leysen, Dylan Baker. 118 mins. From Fri 15. limited general release.



FILM curries

Tod Brownhig's Freaks, reassessed ln Shock

As more and more films fill up the television schedules. and more and more dedicated l‘ilm channels spring up on satellite and cable. the need grows for a reliable guide that suits your tastes but comes in a single. easy-to-use volume.

Closest to The Liv! in vvriting style and critical partialin is the Time Out Film Guide (Penguin £12.99). novv in its fifth edition. Bang up-to-date and dravving l‘rom a vvide range ol specialist reviewers (some of vv hom also contribute to The List). its strong in every conceivable area. but particularly so on international films and those ol' a cult persuasion.

The l‘)‘)7 edition of Halliwell’s Film & Video Cuilde (Harper Collins 1: l (v.99) boasts over 32.000 entries. so it‘s invaluable lor those black-and-vvhite T\' matinees and through-the- night obscurities. llovvever. its one-line synopses and even shorter assessments (occasionally supplemented by short cstracts l'rom other critics' t‘evievvs) reveals an approach that sacril‘ices depth l‘or quantity. A glance at the star ratings shows that. at last. successive editions are breaking avvay from the stul‘t‘iness ol‘ the original .‘vlr Hallivvell. \vho virtually \vt'ote ol‘l anything made alter the 50s.

Although not an .»\»~/. guide like the above volumes. Shock (Titan £12.99) is essential nonetheless l‘or anyone \vhose cinematic leanings takes them out ol' the mainstream and into the realms ol' the bi/arre. The third volume in Stelan .lavvor/ yn's .X'lim‘A X/H’t'vv series. it collects together l'il'teen essays on subjects that are sometimes unlairly neglected. ol'ten openly vilit'ied. The cultist's cult compendium. .Vlm A brings a breadth of knovvledge and serious thought to exploitation cinema. Highlights this time include Kim Newman's history ol McCarthyism and the movies. and Jack Stevenson on the story behind and reactions to Tod Browning's Freaks. (Alan Morrison)

The List I528 Nov l‘)‘)() 29