The setting is Los Angeles, where drug kingpin Judah Earl controls all. It is the misfortune of mechanic Ash Corven and his eight-year-old son Danny to witness a gang of Judah's thugs murdering a fellow drug dealer.
Judah's men capture Ash and Danny. Ash and Danny are viciously beaten and terrorized, with Ash pleading for Danny's life, and then tied together and shot multiple times, and their bodies are thrown off of a pier.
A young woman named Sarah has been having dreams about Ash and Danny. Sarah works in a tattoo parlor by day, and paints haunting, surreal images of death and resurrection in her apartment at night. Sarah is haunted by these disturbing dreams about Ash and Danny, and after a day's work in the tattoo parlor, Sarah is visited in her apartment by a crow as she contemplates a ring given to her years ago by Eric Draven (the original Crow played by Brandon Lee).
Sarah follows this crow to the harbor during the nighttime of All Saint's Day, and witnesses Ash's resurrection and frantic escape from his watery grave. Sarah takes him to her apartment. Ash wants to know who she is, and how he survived the brutal attack on himself and his son. When Sarah informs him that he didn't, he freaks out and runs screaming into the night, and ends up at his home, where he relives the final moments of his life.
Sarah arrives to find Ash brooding, and she informs him that she knows what he has come to do--he has been resurrected by the crow, so he can have a chance to go after those who killed him and Danny. When Sarah lived in Detroit as a child, she had friends named Eric Draven and Shelly Webster, who were murdered, and Eric was resurrected by the crow to go after the criminals who murdered them, which is why Sarah has great knowledge of the crow legend.
Sarah outfits Ash with the Crow facial paint, and Ash acquires black clothing and a high-performance motorcycle. With the guidance of the crow, Ash starts killing Judah's henchmen, one by one.
Ash first visits Spider-Monkey in a warehouse and interrogates him as to who else was involved in the atrocity. After losing a card trick to Ash, Spider-Monkey is killed when Ash sets off exremely flammable chemicals, blowing apart the building.
Another of Judah's lackeys, a pervert named Nemo is spending the night at the peepin booths. Ash appears in the booths, and assaults Nemo. Nemo is then discovered with a doll stuffed in his pants, and a paper crow in his mouth.
Judah has in his employ a blind prophetess named Sybil who is able to ascertain Ash's link to Sarah and to the crow that is the source of his powers. Judah captures Sarah in order to draw Ash to him and steal his power.
Judah has left a women named Kali in Sarah's apartment as bait for Ash. While battling her, Ash realizes that Kali is the one who killed Danny. Kali starts tossing throwing stars at Ash, futilely hitting him with poles and stabbing him with a knife. until he throws her into a wall and then out a window. Kali dies when she lands on a car on the street below, her blood streaming out in the shape of a crow in flight.
Then Ash pursues Judah's right-hand man, Curve in a motorcycle chase. Ash shoots Curve's motorcycle, and the motorcycle blows up and throws Curve onto the road. Ash then drags Curve into the nearby river, where Curve floats, dying amongst flowers in the shape of a crow in flight on the surface of the water.
All that is left for Ash to do is to rescue Sarah by seeking out Judah in his tower, where it takes place at the annual "Dia de los Muerto" (Day of the Dead) festival. At the same time,Judah uses his fingernail to slice a bloody cross into Sarah's forehead, and capture and impales the crow's wings with knives and then kills the crow, drinking its blood.
Because of what Judah did to the crow, Ash is not at completely full strength. In fact, he is losing his strength as time passes. In a confrontation with Judah, Judah beats up Ash, ties a rope around him, and tries to hang him. Judah then grabs a whip and begins whipping Ash.
Sarah then rushes up and stabs Judah in the forehead, causing Judah to lower Ash to the ground, Sarah ruhes to Ash and unties him. Since Judah has the crow's blood in him, the stabbing in the forehead doesn't hurt him. Judah pulls out the knife and starts moving toward Ash. Sarah gets in the way, and Judah stabs her in the stomach.
Enrage, Ash gets up and impales Judah on a metal pipe that enters Judah's back and exits though his chest, and this doesn't kill Judah either. While Judah is still impaled, Ash calls upon a large number of crows that are flying overhead. The crows swarm down and kill Judah by eating him. Sarah then dies from her stab wound in Ash's arms, a tableau reminiscent of a painting she had finished earlier in the film.
Ash carries Sarah's body to the church, Ash returns to death, knowing that he can now rest in peace with his son and Sarah, now that Judah and his minions are dead.
Several of the plot devices and subplots removed from the movie along with alternate versions of many other scenes from the movie appear in the novelization of the film.
- Vincent Perez as Ashe Corven
- Mia Kirshner as Sarah
- Richard Brooks as Judah Earl
- Thuy Trang as Kali
- Iggy Pop as Curve
- Thomas Jane as Nemo
- Vincent Castellanos as Spider-Monkey
- Eric Acosta as Danny
- Beverley Mitchell as Grace
- Ian Dury as Noah
- Tracey Ellis as Sybil
This movie was heavily cut/edited by Miramax/Dimension Films (the distributor) upon its release. The following footage can only be seen in the workprint and pay-per-view version of the film:
- After Ashe's resurrection, Sarah takes him back to her loft where he wakes up. He does not want to believe that he is dead, so Sarah stabs him in the chest with a kitchen knife to prove it to him. Ashe, with a look of horror and disbelief, pulls the knife out of his chest and then runs away as in the released theatrical version.
- Ashe's last name (Corven) is clearly revealed as he runs back to his garage after his resurrection. The garage reads "Corven's Body Shop".
- In his fight with Spider-Monkey, Ashe picks up a pistol and says "Don't try this at home, kids" before shooting himself in the head. Ashe then collapses to the ground, faking death. As Spider-Monkey aproaches him, Ashe pops back up to his feet and scares Spider-Monkey.
- Ashe fights with Judah's thugs outside of a church. Ashe tells one of themthat if he (the thug) has a gun he should shoot him (Ashe). The thug hesitates, and Ashe takes his gun, forcing the thugs to flee.
- After killing Nemo, Ashe grabs the stripper that Nemo was with and tells her not to come there again.
- Ashe does not burn Danny's painting. Instead, it falls out of Ashe's coat pocket during his final confrontation with Judah, who rips it up.
- Ashe changes from a crow, then reverts back to human form when he goes down to Kali after throwing her out the window. Kali is still alive and slowly dying after being thrown out the window. She then begs Ashe to kill her quickly. Ashe refuses and leaves her to die slowly as her blood forms the symbol of the crow.
- Judah tells Sarah when he has captured her about himself drowning and nearly dying when he was younger, leading to his obsession with the occult.
- The ending is different. When Ashe sees the spectre of Danny at the festival, instead of Danny saying to Ashe "If you give up now, we won't be together." He says instead, "It is time to go now," and refuses, saying he has to save Sarah. By doing so, he gives up his chance to return to Heaven, cursing himself to live on earth for eternity (since he is already dead and hence can't die again). When he carries Sarah's body to the church, a priest asks, "What will you do now, my son?" Ashe replies that he can't let another shadow take over Los Angeles. The flashback shown at the end of the released film was originally at an earlier point in the film.
- The screenplay aslo inferred that Sarah's love for Ashe would allow her to return as the newest avatar of the crow.
- The song Rain Forever, from the score for the original 1994 film was used twice. The first time was when the Ashe retrieves his son’s body from the ocean so he can bury it. The second time is when Ashe sees Danny’s spirit telling him not to give up
- Iggy Pop, who plays Curve, was supposed to play Funboy in the original 1994 film but he had to decline due to his touring schedule
- Brandon Lee partly based his physique in The Crow on Iggy Pop and was a big fan.
- Broken glass was placed everywhere on the set to give the film a post apocalyptic vibe
- This was Vincent Perez’s first Hollywood film while it was Thuy Trang’s last film
- Ashe being a mechanic is a nod to the character Eric Draven. In the original comic book, Eric was a mechanic
- Thuy Trang convinced the director to allow her to have a fight scene in the film
Miramax/Dimension Collector's Series
A Deluxe Edition That Takes You Inside The Movie!
- Behind-The Scenes Featurette
- Production And Costume Design Featurette
- Feature Commentary Track With Producer Jeff Most, Composer Graeme Revell, Actor Richard Brooks, Production Designer Kirsten Everberg
- Original Poster Concepts
- Production Design Stills
- Screenplay Viewer & Novelization
- Production Art Gallery
The Screenplay for City of Angels was adapted into a novel by Chet Williamson as well as a three-issue comic book series published by Kitchen Sink Press, both of which feature the original ending of the story.
A video game based on the film was also produced.