Posted by: Dr P | February 27, 2010

Solomon Kane

You know the old story about Solomon Kane don’t you.

Solomon Kane
Born on a Monday
Damned on a Tuesday
Outcast on a Wednesday
Repents on a Thursday
Salvation on a Friday

In a nutshell, that’s pretty much the story here – the title character is a nasty individual who leaves home young believing he has killed his brother, takes part in many wars, earns a reputation as a fearless and horrifying battle warrior, is cursed by the Devil, tries to repent, and ultimately must atone for his sins by making all his ills right. The Solomon Grundy reference is entirely the fault of faithful companion and cinema bud, Big G, who called him Grundy so much on the way there that I almost asked for tickets to that movie. Damn.

The day had got off to a pretty hilarious start when I was writing a blog about the immense physics experiment taking place at CERN in Switzerland. Of course when typing quickly it’s very easy to get letters the wrong way round, and it was only AFTER I’d published the piece that I realised the entire educational community would shortly be reading about “The Large Hardon Collider” … that was one of the quickest edits I’ve ever made!

2010 is of course also the Year of Gore ™, and this film quite easily lived up to the levels of hack and slash seen in Ninja Assassin and The Wolfman. Limbs flying, heads rolling, blood spewing from wounds – once again, the creators of movie blood must be coining it in.

Kane’s backstory is told well in flashbacks interspersed throughout the main storyline. We learn early on of his horrifically bloody warmongering, partly when fighting for the likes of Admiral Nelson and the British, and partly just his own sadistic streak. We also see his mean taken by demonic hordes and the Devil himself damning Kane’s soul. Nice. After that horrid experience, our “hero” seeks solace and penitence by becoming something of a hermit. When his monastic life is also cut short, he sets out to wrong the ills of his past, and quickly falls into company with a traveller (Pete Postlethwaite) and his family, who are bound for the New World.

Of course this also ends badly, with the family brutally slain by hordes of semi-humans roaming the country in service of a demonic creature. When the pretty young daughter is captured, Postlethwaite’s dying wish is for Kane to save the girl and in doing so rescue his soul. Of course, this is a tempting quest for Kane, and so sets out to right his wrongs, save the kidnapped daughter and also seek out the demon behind the slayings.

All this action takes place in the South West of England – after a recent trip to Devon, I can confirm that it is indeed filled with horrific creatures who mis-pronounce their world and perceive anyone from east of Exmoor as “furriners”, so be warned.

The movie could quite easily have descended into a camp hack and slash affair, with poorly-thought out stereotypes and cliched plot twists, but it’s actually played pretty well by a very strong cast including the likes of Postlethwaite and Max Von Sydow. James Purefoy is especially good as Kane, with an impressively menacing presence, yet revealing many layers to his character. An excellent piece of casting. Oh yes and there’s a quite marvellous turn by Mackenzie Crook as a vicar whose parishioners have become “lost” … though perhaps not in the way we first believe!

Suffice to say, the movie ends in a climactic set piece, with all the plot lines resolved, blood everywhere, and a few moral comments thrown in for good measure. A rip-roaring adventure with more than its share of quality acting to boot. A good movie for a lads night out!

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