Posted December 23, 2013 by Mikey Sutton in Movies/TV

DVD REVIEW: Solomon Kane

“Now I will wander through the falling flames
And I will drown in the burning rain”

- The Swans

Our hero is damned.

With his slouch hat and nightmare-black attire, Solomon Kane is one of the most frightening images of death; he will haunt your dreams on his ebony steed, slashing your flesh with his rapier or cutting off your head with his cutlass. But Kane is no villain. His creator, Robert E. Howard, ignited ‘30s pulp fiction with violent anti-heroes like Conan and Kull. Kane is firmly in that mold, a brutal mercenary whose numerous killings have placed him numero uno on the Devil’s shopping list of souls.

James Purefoy captures both the righteous fury and internal conflict of Captain Solomon Kane, a troubled man in a world caught between the eternal promise of religious faith and the concrete power of black magic. His destiny in the pits of Hell seemingly sealed, Kane tries to become a pacifist in a desperate attempt for redemption. However, Kane’s attempts for a peaceful existence is short-lived; his reputation as a killing machine follows his every step, and people either admire him for it or seek to challenge him. His decision to lay down his weaponry leads to tragedy: A family who nursed him back from health is nearly completely slaughtered by demonic forces. Kane promises the dying father that he will rescue his kidnapped daughter; in return, he will be forgiven for his sins.

The irony of Kane having to slaughter his enemies to enter Heaven is an intriguing one, but director Michael J. Bassett doesn’t dig deeper than the surface. Then again, he’s merely just being faithful to the original source. Howard’s writing was imaginative and brimming with ferocious energy but the poetry was in its brute force and sense of environment. On that level, Solomon Kane succeeds wonderfully. The film is dark and atmospheric, its rain-soaked landscapes dripping with a grim worldview and Gothic iciness. Purefoy delivers both the intensity and compassion required to make the character impressive and likable, and the action sequences are among the best seen in any Howard adaptation since John Milius’ 1982 classic Conan the Barbarian.

Mikey Sutton