Based on Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s early pulp character from the 1920’s, Solomon Kane is a mash-up of Hammer Horror and post- Lord of the Rings fantasy, set in a Mad Max Elizabethan landscape with a touch of Spaghetti Western, samurai-chic.
Played with unexpected depth and West Country accent by gentleman James Purefoy (Resident Evil, Vanity Fair) Kane is by turns callous pirate, penitent and avenger…
Defying the Devil’s Reaper who claims his soul, the pirate Kane retreats to an English monastery to start his life over, only to be cast out of his sanctuary into a countryside infected by plague and supernatural bandits. Falling in with a Puritan family who have sold up to travel to the American colonies, Kane’s peaceful path is broken by the bandits. An oath to rescue the kidnapped daughter of the family becomes Kane’s shot at redemption and the black-hatted and cloaked avenger is born.
The landscapes of this British-Hungarian co-production are suitably grim aided by some passable CGI. The monsters are well rendered mixtures of CGI and actors in prosthetics, right up to the final fire demon. Clearly a cheaper version of LOTR’s balrog, the fire demon is twenty-five feet of flaming skeletal nasty that doesn’t feel like anything more threatening than the bundle of pixels it comprises.
The movie lives on it’s fine action sequences – Purefoy is a gritty action hero and a good swordsman – and on the suporting performances of Pete Postelthwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jason Fleming and old stager Max Von Sydow, still churning out cameo appearances.
It is of course, Howard hokum, rendered with love and pride by writer/director Michael J Bassett. Purefoy plays it as straight as he can amid the mud, rain and men in latex makeup and gimp masks. Glorious. RC
Certificate (UK): 15
Runtime: 104 mins
Director: Michael J Bassett
Writer: Michael J Bassett
Cast: James Purefoy, Max von Sydow, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood