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DVD REVIEW:  The Crow 4: Wicked Prayer

If you are a regular reader of my reviews, then I’m more than certain you know my utter distaste for prolonged sequels. A second take, if well done, is completely fine, but when you get into the third and fourth installment of a movie, generally two things begin to occur: the budget shrinks and the quality of the acting plummets. Most third and fourth installments are shot straight to DVD and filed away on the shelves of your local rental shop (if they are lucky) to collect dust. It is sad, but it is the truth when directors attempt to wring every last drop of blood they can from the original concept. So, at 3am the other night, when I decided to take a break from writing to watch a little Sci Fi Channel and saw THE CROW 4: WICKED PRAYER beginning to play on the screen I instantly groaned.

Not number 4! Yes, I’m guilty, I prejudged it before the intro credits had even finished rolling. I was certain that the movie was going to be bad, bad like a Jägermeister hangover. But then I noticed that David Boreanaz (ANGEL, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, BONES) was in it, as well as Edward Furlong (TERMINATOR II, PET CEMETERY II, AMERICAN HISTORY X). This definitely caught my attention as I have a quite a bit of respect for these two actors and have been fans of their work for years. I was torn. Turn off the TV lest I sit and watch these two talented actors struggle with a two-bit storyline, or leave it on and hope to be pleasantly surprised?

Luckily for me, and you the reader, the later of the two possible outcomes happened.

THE CROW 4: WICKED PRAYER is set on an Indian reservation in the middle of a desert landscape. Jimmy Cuervo (Edward Furlong) is a young ex-con trying to rebuild his life. He and the local shaman, Lily (Emmanuelle Chriqui) are secretly in love, much to her family’s bitter disapproval. Jimmy is set to propose to Lily when a Satanic gang, who call themselves the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, arrive back in town, fresh out of prison. Luc Crash (David Boreanaz), the gang’s vain and violent leader has set his sights on becoming the next Devil reincarnate. As Jimmy and Lily become the first two sacrifices at the hands of the gang. Little does the gang know that they have brought the curse of the Crow upon them as Jimmy rises from the dead to avenge his lost love.

I have always considered the original CROW movie as one of the generational defining movies of the 1990’s. It was, and still is, an essential example of modern gothic and a timeless, tragic story of avenged love. Eleven years after the release of THE CROW, this new installment of the tale has finally come a bit closer to capturing that original spirit of the first. I’m not saying that it matches it in any way, but thanks to the excellent performances by Furlong and Boreanaz, the true division of good and evil, the suffering, the violence, the desire for revenge has returned to the screen.

I never in a million years would have thought to cast Furlong as The Crow, yet, as I watched him in the role, it seemed strangely natural. His torment was touching, his anger almost tangible. Perhaps there is a deeper aspect of pain behind the legend of The Crow that Furlong relates to, as many of us do. If so, he successfully tapped into the emotions needed to make his character believable and embraceable by audiences. Boreanaz’s performance, while not as poignant as Furlong’s tortured Crow, is still highly enjoyable to watch. It is obvious he is having a tremendous amount of fun playing the evil gang leader, though it is not exactly a challenging role for him after his years playing the vampire on ANGEL and BUFFY or his recent role on the television series BONES.

Even the brilliant Mr. Denis Hopper makes an appearance at the end as the leader of the Satanic prostitution house where Luc’s soon to be Bride of Satan, Lola (Tara Reid) used to work. All in all, this bizarre collection of actors made this very simple script (I think it was a wise decision to keep the storyline succinct and to the point) with a very low-budget film work in a way that completely exceeded my expectations and made THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER into a completely watchable, enjoyable film. I almost never recommend sequels so this is a very rare occasion, but if you come across a copy of THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER in your local rental shop, pick it up. However, I would skip the second and third installments of THE CROW, which are barely worth mentioning.

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