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Saturday, 21 August 2010


Never have six words carried such weight as when they're uttered by former-arse-kicker-turned-repentant-puritan SOLOMON KANE. In the opening ten minutes of the film we're shown how utterly merciless he is, and told all we need to know when he boldly proclaims "I am the only devil here!"...but after a confrontation with a demonic entity puts him in his place and he finds out that not only does God not have his back, as he thought, but his soul is damned...then, well, he throws himself out a window and shacks up with some monks.

I mean, who wouldn't? If a blank-faced, satanic-voiced guy tried to stab me with a flaming sword I'd probably do the same thing. Okay, so maybe not the 'monk' part. Or the window bit, actually. I'd more than likely just get shishkebabed. Hmm.

After this wake-up call, Kane (created by Robert E. Howard and played convincingly by James Purefoy) covers his body in holy symbols and tries to hide from evil's beady eyes, and everything's pretty groovy for about a year. Then, the head monk tells Kane "I had a dream, and basically, God told me to kick you out". And so our new Man of Peace(tm) hits the road, trying to figure out if and how he can absolve his sins and rescue his soul from the Devil's grabby little hands.

But what's this? Oh no! Bandits! And because Kane doesn't fight any more, they beat him up. See what sticking to your principles does for you, kids? Anyway, Pete Postlethwaite and his family find Kane and nurse him back to
health, and Kane decides to stick with them, at least until something really interesting happens.

Luckily for us, they stumble upon a pile of smoking ruins - turns out a witch was burned at the stake but she got free and fried everybody's eyes before they even made her 'medium rare'. Cue an encounter with said witch and the marking of Pete's daughter, Meredith. Look out guys, she's been touched by evil! But all it means is the marauding army (led by Leatherface from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre) are after her specifically. Why? I'll tell you in a minute!

SOLOMON KANE succeeds for two reasons, mainly. The first is that the script isn't afraid to do things you wouldn't think it'd do. The second is that you completely believe Solomon Kane is capable of taking on unfavourable odds all by himself. When he tries to defuse a tense situation by emphatically stating "I am a man of peace" all this plea does is get a bunch of people killed, all because he won't physically fight to save them. Suffice to say, these unfair deaths put him firmly back in an arse-kicking mindset and off he goes to rescue Meredith from the evil army, killing any
one (and anything) that stands in his way.

I told a bit of a fib up there ^ because I'm not going to tell you what's so special about Meredith, only that I'm pretty sure the baddies could have found someone like her pretty easily without incurring the wrath of Solomon Kane. But then there'd be no real reason for Kane to get all stabby and the film wouldn't be very interesting now would it?

Along the way on his miniature holy crusade Kane stabs, chops, slices and, er, stabs a lot of things. I imagine he would be a wiz in the kitchen. The film is rather brutal and bloody in places (what else would you expect from the author who also created Conan?), and we even get to see a few crucifixions. This leads up to a "rebirth" of Kane that clearly references Christ's own resurrection. Or does it? Yes, of course it does. SOLOMON KANE is overflowing with religious talk and iconography (there has to be, like, a hundred shots of burnt-out churches in the film) but you're not smacked around the head with it. Kane lives in a world filled with witchcraft and devout belief, so all the religious stuff makes sense in context and never feels preachy or ham-fisted. Not even when Mackenzie Crook turns up as a dodgy priest with an even dodgier "flock"...

SOLOMON KANE is the first film I've seen in ages where I wished it lasted longer. All the suspense scenes actually generate tension (re: the "flock" bit) and when Kane literally cuts loose and lays waste to the bad guys it puts a bloody great big grin on my face because it is so damn COOL. Plus, we get a cool demon at the end who, granted, doesn't really do much but the point is it is used, when so many other films would have it maybe break free a little bit then get stopped/prevented or not break free at all.

Sure, Meredith's "specialness" is a load of balls, and Jason Fleming (who I think is GREAT) makes for a less-than menacing main villain, but you get James Purefoy in a black cloak and wide-brimmed hat, which is a look that ANYONE can rock (re: Vampire Hunter D as another prime example), plenty of gore and some nifty monsters. They're supposed to making a trilogy of Solomon Kane films, and I hope this still happens. SOLOMON KANE might not have any real loose ends and in fact doesn't seem to suggest it warrants a follow-up (let alone two) but if it means we get to see James Purefoy dressed like a cool dude getting all stabby with some evil shits then I'm all for it.

"Here I am being all cool and moody in the rain, but it gave me a terrible cold and now I'm all snotty"
- Solomon Kane, yesterday.


  1. The point about Meredith isn't that she's "special," but because she was specifically used to bait Kane, which is why they wanted to incur his wrath in the first place.

    Apart from that, good review!

  2. Thanks! I get the reason behind Meredith's use, but when it's revealed that !!!!!SPOILER!!!!! innocent blood is all that's needed to unleash the demon it seems a bit daft they chose someone linked with Kane, when they know he's an utter maniac. Mind you, they were perhaps hoping he'd not want to get involved or have completely forgotten how to be an utter nutcase...bad forward planning, evil army! Piss off someone like Solomon Kane and it'll end in tears all right - yours! As he stabs them out your face!