"If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay."
— Solomon Kane
Released early 2010, Solomon Kane is based loosely on Robert E. Howard's character of the same name. The film begins with Solomon Kane, an English mercenary, sacking a Spanish-occupied fortress in 17th-century North Africa. After easily dispatching any guards unfortunate enough to stand in his way. Solomon's men are set upon by demons and only Kane himself reaches the throne room. The treasure within is vast but much to his horror Solomon finds he is not alone.Confronted by none other than the Devil's Reaper he is informed his soul is damned to hell and Satan has come to collect. Kane narrowly escapes, vowing to renounce his violent and sinful ways forever. Thus begins Kane's path to redeeming his wicked deeds and the lesson that "redemption is not always found through peace."Inevitably his quest to avoid confrontation is hampered at every turn and sure enough this reformed-sinner-turned-Puritan must now put his violent skills to good use once again. Otherwise the audience might actually be forced to watch a man live out a peaceful life in a monastery. And no-one wants that in an action movie.The film itself is unashamedly over-the-top with some gritty realism thrown inbetween the demons and witches being slain. Its dark atmosphere and James Purefoy's lead performance have gotten a decent amount of praise, while on the other hand the straight forward plot and out-of-place finale have been seen as a weakness.Well worth taking a look at the original inspiration, Solomon Kane, along with his creator, author Robert E. Howard.
Solomon Kane provides examples of the following tropes:
Bullying a Dragon: A group of thugs harass and taunt Solomon, who is doing his damn best to never kill again. One is smart enough to notice he's "got murder in his eyes" and has likely killed before. But they still beat him down for fun. They meet again. He isn't forgiving.
Burn the Witch!: Inverted. Solomon and the Crowthorns encounter the bodies of villagers who were burning a suspected witch. The problem arose when she actually turned out to be genuine and the fire was utterly useless. She then turned the flames on her capturers and burned the eyes out of all those who came to watch. All while laughing.
The Call Knows Where You Live: Despite his best efforts to become a man of peace, the call plagues him until Solomon finally answers. The call banishes him from the safety of the monastery, kills most of the family that took him in, kidnaps their daughter and then he finds out Malachi is now residing in his family's castle.
Children Are Innocent: Subverted. Turns out that child who survived the witch attack was the witch in disguise after all. Solomon wasn't fooled, however.
Christianity Is Catholic: Zig-zagged. Catholicism should have been well stamped out in southern England by the time Solomon Kane is set, but the film still shows Kane living in a monastery and kneeling in front of an ornate crucifix. Both Kane and the Crowthorns are Puritans, but this fact receives very little screentime.
Darkest Hour: Solomon suffers this when he believes he has failed Meredith and by extension lost his chance for salvation. Then ends up letting himself be crucified. He recovers though when he finds out she's still alive.
Deal with the Devil: Malachi's power is literally a result of dealing with Satan. And then Josiah Kane in turn makes a deal with Malachi, offering up his power and lands to heal his eldest son.
Determinator: Solomon displays this trait on several occasions, even during his darkest hour. He refuses to be taken to hell quietly, pulls himself off a cross after being crucified and tracks down Meredith against all the odds to save her.
High Dive Escape: Kane escapes from the Devil's Reaper by diving through a stained glass window into the ocean below.
Hijacked by Jesus: The original novels were about a Puritan Christian struggling to understand a world where creatures and forces of various non-Christian belief-systems roam freely, yet the Christian God makes no overt signs of His existence, whereas the movie is all about the struggle between the Judeo-Christian God and Satanvia human proxies.
Holding Out for a Hero: The local fighters don't fight back until Kane leads them. On a larger scale, what the hell are the armies of Queen Elizabeth the First doing while half of the West Country is burning to the ground? Although there wasn't so much of an army per se in the early 1600s... but there would have been badly trained (and drunk) local militias available for hire. If you want an army, you'd have to wait about another 40 years. Never-the-less Elizabeth I would surely have done something and since her mother was reputedly a witch....
Malachi also has neatly scrolled text written across one side of his face.
I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Played straight and subverted. Solomon spends years feeling guilty after accidentally killing his brother, even though he didn't like him, but in the end it turns out Marcus never died from the fall. Ironically if Marcus had died things might have turned out for the better.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: Played very straight when the Crowthorn family is set upon by evil thugs and all the males, the father, eldest son and even the youngest Edward, are brutally killed. The two women, Mrs. Crowthorn and Meredith, both survive the movie.
Red Herring: The mark the witch leaves on Meredith's palm at first indicates she may be special or have some say in the final battle. In the end it was simply to let Malachi and co. know she was bait for Solomon.
Sinister Minister: Father Michael. Driven insane by his congregation turning into ghouls, he keeps them confined under the ruins of his church. He even feeds them other people. Solomon learns this too late to avoid being pushed in.
Shoot the Dog: Solomon finds his father locked in the dungeon, bound by chains made by Malachi. Josiah Kane tells him that deal he made means Malachi will always be stronger while he lives. Reluctantly Solomon carries out his father's request to kill him.
Something Completely Different: For some reason the Devil has Malachi send a 30ft lava monster through a giant portal to kill 6 foot Solomon. Rather than...oh I dunno...the Reaper that Kane nearly killed himself escaping from last time. It looks more like something you hit repeatedly until its HP bar reaches zero than, say, a movie villain..
Super Window Jump: Kane escapes the Reaper by diving through an ornate stained glass window.
Villain Ball: It appears the Devil himself is carrying this thing around the whole movie. He sends his reaper after Solomon essentially warning him he's doomed for hell unless he changes. He orders his minion Malachi to orchestrate a reign of terror on Kane family lands solely to bring Solomon out of hiding. Then has Meredith used as bait. All this to get Solomon's soul. Instead it only gives him new purpose and a noble reason to fight. Backfiring in every conceivable way.
Wicked Witch: Pretty much your classic ugly hag, complete with cackling.
A Wizard Did It: As no amount of herbal medical techniques can mend the devastating bone, muscle, and nerve damage having your hands nailed to a cross would do, especially in less than a few days, the movie pretty much handwaves the miracle of Solomon's 100% fully functional hands as some strange pagan magic. Then again, they did Hand Wave it, which is more than most film do....
You Can't Fight Fate: Solomon is pretty much cursed to a life of battle. The Devil's Reaper informs Kane he is damned and it's pointless to fight it.