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Vincent Perez stars in the upcoming ''The Crow: City of Angels''

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I like being dragged and hanged,” explains Swiss-born heartthrob Vincent Perez. That’s fortunate, because as the star of The Crow: City of Angels, this month’s sequel to 1994’s hit The Crow, Perez doesn’t get treated too well. This despite a teasing sign tacked onto his canvas chair on the dark, eerie Los Angeles set that reads, ”Vincent Perez — International Film Star.” ”It’s a very physical shoot,” says the French-speaking Perez, who used a dialect coach to help him with his English. ”But I’m game for anything dangerous.”

If this is true, Perez, 31, whose most notable prior exposure to American audiences came with 1994’s import Queen Margot, was the perfect choice to play Ashe, a young man who comes back from his own savage murder armed with the supernatural powers of the Crow and bent on punishing his killers — one of whom is played by punkster Iggy Pop. In accepting the role (which was once rumored to be earmarked for Jon Bon Jovi), Perez is following in the footsteps of Brandon Lee, who was accidentally shot and killed while filming on the set of the first movie in North Carolina in March 1993. Lee’s mother filed a negligence suit against producer Edward Pressman’s company; the matter was settled out of court.

Lee’s death has haunted this production at times as much as the Crow himself. ”Brandon’s death was emotionally shattering,” says Pressman, who had originally hoped that the Crow would become an ongoing franchise for Lee. ”We were in a very dark mood for many months. It took a long time to even think about doing a sequel.”

Once he did, however, Pressman reunited the first film’s producer Jeff Most, its production designer, Alex McDowell, and its composer, Graeme Revell, and decided to start from scratch. Tim Pope, a British TV-commercial and music-video director (he helmed videos for David Bowie, the Cure, Neil Young, and Iggy Pop), is making his feature film debut with City of Angels. (Alex Proyas, who directed the original, was not available for the second film.) The first movie, in which Eric Draven, played by Lee, came back from the dead to seek revenge on his killers, was based on artist James O’Barr’s three Crow comic books from the late 1980s. O’Barr drew upon his own real-life tragedy: His fiancee had been killed by a drunken driver. But The Crow: City of Angels, while still based on O’Barr’s ideas, offers a new story by screenwriter David Goyer (The Puppet Masters), in which the spirit of the Crow returns to possess a different young man. ”It’s still about the power of love and redemption,” says Pressman. ”It’s still about love conquering all.”

As Ashe, Perez teams up with Mia Kirshner, who plays a grown-up version of Sarah, the little girl from the first film who met the Crow in Detroit. Both actors say they were determined to put their own stamp on the movie. ”I don’t believe in superstition and stories about bad luck and bad karma,” says Perez, relaxing in his trailer in full Ashe regalia, slashed leather pants and gothic face makeup. ”I’m sorry about what happened to Brandon but I’m bringing my story to the part, my journey.”