Directed by Michael J. Bassett (Silent Hill: Revelation, Deathwatch), Solomon Kane is a no holds barred action/adventure/fantasy film which doesn’t shy away from the source material. Dark and violent with an extremely compelling lead character, Solomon Kane is a film that deserves to be seen by fans of fantasy and action films.
Based on the character created by Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian), the story begins with Solomon Kane, an English mercenary, attacking a Turkish city in the 1600’s. Upon reaching the treasure chamber, he is confronted by the Devil’s Reaper, who informs him that it is time for the Devil to have his due. Kane escapes the Reaper by jumping through a window into the seas below. Fast forward and Kane is living in a monastery, having taken a vow of peace. He is kicked out of the monastery and soon runs into a puritan family on the road who are heading to the coast to go to the new world. They are attacked and the children and father are killed and one daughter is abducted. The father, William, makes Kane promise to rescue his daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood). Kane then begins searching for Meredith, carving a swath of death as he goes.
From the brief description that I have just given, you would expect the film to be nothing more than a dude wandering the countryside killing everything that moves. Honestly, you wouldn’t be too far off believing that. What sets this film apart from other lower budget fantasy films is the performance by James Purefoy as Solomon Kane and arc that the character goes through.
At the beginning of the film, he is a cold-blooded killer. A privateer who has no qualms killing just for the hell of it. Once he finds out that he is damned, however, he changes. While it is never shown in the film, you know that he goes through a spiritual awakening, shown as a body covered in tattoos of crosses. He is living in a monastery, trying to redeem his immortal soul. Once the puritan family is attacked, however, his unique skill set is required. At this point, he discovers that there is something more important than his immortal soul, and that is saving the daughter that he promised he would rescue. This is the second character transformation of the film. The first being his transformation from cold blooded killer to a man of peace. The second being his transformation to an avenging angel, of sorts, a righteous killer working for the good of the family that took him in and treated him as a human being. A family that he clearly cared for and grew to love; and Purefoy sells it.
While the film deals heavily with religious implications and iconography, it is never heavy handed in it’s use of religion. It does not attempt to sell or convert you. It is telling a story in the 1600’s in England when religious persecution was rampant and violent. It takes this religious iconography, though, and sprinkles in a healthy dose of the supernatural. There are witches and sorcerers and a man brought back from the dead. Not to mention vampire-like cannibals. While this takes place in Britain, it is clearly a fantasy film. Unlike Conan, though, it takes place in a more modern setting, a setting that is not completely fiction. Hyboria never existed. Britain did and does.
I loved Solomon Kane. Every minute of it. It is a wonderful film with a terrific performance by James Purefoy. Do yourself a favor and give it a look. You will not be disappointed.
***1/2 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts
- In 2001, Christopher Lambert was offered the role of Solomon Kane.
- Solomon Kane was released in Europe in 2009. It did not appear in the US until a few festival screenings in 2012. The US Blu-Ray did not release until July 19, 2013.
- Solomon Kane was created by Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian.
- A Brief Look at Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane: from Page to Celluloid (blueagain.wordpress.com)
- BIZZAM!! Picks of the Week- July 16, 2013 (bizzammovienews.com)