A nomadic 16th century warrior, condemned to hell for his brutal past, seeks redemption by renouncing violence, but finds some things are worth burning for as he fights to free a young Puritan woman from the grip of evil.
ActorsStarring: James Purefoy, Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige, Mackenzie Crook, Max von Sydow, Jason Flemyng, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Mark O'Neal, Robert Orr, Richard Ryan, Ian Whyte, Geoff Bell, Rory McCann, Curtis Matthew, Samuel Roukin, James Babson, Anthony Wilks, Isabel Bassett, Patrick Hurd-Wood, Marek Vašut, Christian Dunckley Clark, Frantisek Deak, Thomas McEnchroe, Andrew Whitlaw, Lucas Stone, Robert Russell, Matthew Stirling, Laura Baranik, Andrea Miltner, Philip Winchester
I consider myself a fan of pulp magazine pre-superhero superhero characters. Older characters like Zorro, John Carter, and Conan who were all basically superheroes before superheroes were a thing. Heck, a lot of early superheroes were based on the earlier pulp magazine heroes. But while a lot of these old characters have gotten movies, not many of them have gotten good movies. Even the ones that are good are niche enough to be cult classics rather than cinematic masterpieces. That being said, Solomon Kane, a character I had never heard of before randomly stumbling across this film, was just as solid as any other good pulp magazine movie.
So, an objectively good movie in this sub-genre is going to be something like the 80s Conan the Barbarian or The Mask of Zorro. This is the bar we’re comparing Solomon Kane to here. And it met that bar in general quality while still being its own thing. Now one thing to keep in mind is that this was supposed to be the first entry in a trilogy. Unfortunately, it made less than $20 million on a $40 million budget so that didn’t happen. Given the intentions, it should come as no surprise that Solomon Kane the movie is Solomon Kane the character’s origin story.
Let’s compare Kane here to other pulp magazine characters. For starters, this is a much darker story. It is full of witchcraft and black magic representing the forces of evil Kane is fighting. But despite that, Kane’s status as a hero is not cut and dry. By the start of the movie, Kane’s already a badass; he knows how to fight. But he has committed acts of evil himself and his past haunts him. He comes to terms with the fact that evil can be used to fight evil but struggles as he questions the weight that such actions will place on his soul.
All these struggles make the film slow and it is great. The characters have time to breathe and do character development instead of jumping from one action sequence to another non-stop. Kane spends most of the movie fighting his inner demons as much as the external ones. By the end, Kane has become the man the world needs him to be and the man he needs himself to be. The day gets saved and the battle is won, but the war is far from over as Kane’s journey begins. Damn shame we’ll never get that sequel.