Back in that popular epic – the Bible, the character of Solomon (son of David, King of Israel) is known throughout the land for his wisdom. Sadly, the only thing noticeable about Solomon Kane, the star of Michael J Bassett‘s historical action adventure, is how unnaturally white his teeth are. Though it’s good fun for those who want a bit of slashing madness and fun cameo appearances, there’s not really much here for anyone expecting a serious war epic, or even the journey of a solitary man in pyschological mayhem.
Chop And Change
Based on the character created by Robert E Howard, the eponymous, early 17th century Puritan cuts a swathe through his enemies “on the borderlands of Somerset and Devonshire“; with his trademark pistols, cutlass and rapier. Fight sequences are edited together with a fury so it becomes impossible to distinguish hero from villain in the flickering melee; the titular warrior commanding anyone who will listen, “Let not one of these putrid heathens live!“; And it turns out he doesn’t. There’s a lot of death going on, so if you like lots of death, you’re onto a winner from the very beginning.
Dance With The Devil…
During an expedition in northern Africa, Solomon (James Purefoy) storms a castle hold full of treasure, only to see his men slain by demonic creatures hiding within a hall of mirrors. The Reaper (voiced by Ian Whyte) comes for Solomon to claim his soul but the barbarian escapes his hellish fate by renouncing violence and promising to be really, really good. Returning to England, Solomon seeks refuge in a monastery but he is asked to leave by the Abbot, on account of all that pesky murdering he did at the start of the film. On the road, Solomon befriends a Puritan, William Crowthorn (Pete Postlethwaite), his wife Katherine (Alice Krige) and their children, Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and Samuel (Patrick Hurd-Wood). The newly reformed Soloman grows rather fond of Meredith, so when an evil overlord and his possessed minions attack the family and enslave her, Solomon risks his very soul by returning to his old, bloodthirsty ways to launch a daring rescue mission. “If I kill you, I am bound for Hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay!” growls Solomon, painting the fake snow-laden countryside a lovely shade of blood red.
Morality By Numbers
Solomon Kane is a rather simplistic tale of a morally corrupt man’s fall and equally spectacular redemption, bookmarked by set pieces of swordplay on foot and horseback. Production values are cheap and cheerful, including a computer-generated demon from the underworld in the final showdown that we’re pretty sure was in the original Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog. The revelations of the final half hour involving Solomon’s father Josiah (Max von Sydow) and his brother Marcus (Samuel Roukin) come as no surprise and the only eye-opening moment in the entire film is an encounter with a holy man, Father Michael, because it turns out to be Mackenzie Crook. Which is fun.
Purefoy wields his blade with intent, often coated in thick mud, but fails to tease a single tangible emotion from his damned slayer. His accent is as thick as clotted cream, the adversaries thicker still as they virtually fling themselves onto his blades, heads and limbs hacked clean off in a flash of angry metal. Good, cheap fun will be had by all who travel along the path of Solomon Kane, just don’t expect to think anything much about it bar “Jesus, those teeth are white!”