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Film / Solomon Kane

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He's reformed, honest.

"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 author Robert E. Howard's puritan wanderer 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 treasures 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 in-between the demons and witches being slain. Its dark atmosphere and James Purefoy's lead performance has 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:

  • All According to Plan: According to Malachi, everything Solomon did was meant to bring him back to his family home for the final confrontation where the Devil would claim his soul.
    Solomon: Where are you, Malachi?! Hiding in the shadows?!
    Malachi: Why should I hide from you? I want you here. Every step you took led you to here. Every pain you suffered was punishment for your sins. My master will have your soul!
  • Always Save the Girl: Solomon sees Meredith as the key to his salvation. Could be taken as a Ship Tease, depending on the viewer's interpretation.
    Malachi: Why do you care for her? You came here to save your soul.
    Solomon: She is my soul.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: The protagonist has been foolishly refusing the call up to this point, so it's time for the villains to kill young Samuel in front of his eyes.
  • Anti-Hero: Solomon Kane.
  • Artistic License Military: While there wasn't so much of an English army per se in the early 1600s, there would have been badly trained (and drunk) local militias available. That Queen Elizabeth the First is doing nothing while half of the West Country is burnt to the ground by a murderous warlord with Satanic overtones is rather farfetched. (Especially since her mother was reputedly a witch...)
  • Artistic License Religion: Solomon, a Puritan Protestant, prays before a decorated crucifix at the ruined church. This might be Hand Waved as desperation on his part: admittedly, if you are being chased by the Devil and you need to pray to God, a worship place of the wrong Christian denomination is the least of your problems.
  • Attempted Rape: Marcus is confronted by Solomon before he can take things further.
  • Badass Boast: The moment Kane lets the enemy mooks know the gloves are finally off.
    Solomon: If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay.
  • Big Bad: Malachi. There is a case for the devil himself being the true threat.
  • Blood Knight: When talking of the hardships of war, Solomon confesses this to William Crowthorn.
    Solomon: I was never more at home than I was at battle.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Solomon kills Malachi, followed by the latter being Dragged Off to Hell.
  • 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.
  • Came Back Wrong: Marcus Kane, who is nothing more than Malachi's slave.
    Solomon: I swear Father, I did not mean for Marcus to fall. I did not mean for him to die.
    Josiah: He did not die.
    Solomon: He did not? Then, thank God he is alive!
    Josiah: But it was not by God's will that he lived.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted. Turns out that girl 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.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Solomon is literally crucified, though he escapes, as the nails through his hands are not headed nails, but cylindric spikes he can slide his wounds out of.
  • Damsel in Distress: Meredith Crowthorn.
  • Damsel out of Distress: With Malachi holding her during the final battle, Meredith shoves him away at the last second, giving Solomon a clear shot at him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Solomon, of course.
  • 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, lands and (it's implied) his younger son's soul to heal his eldest son.
  • Death of a Child: The Crowthorns' youngest family member, Samuel, is the first to die by the hands of Malachi's mooks.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: The Masked Rider is this to Malachi.
  • Dual Wielding: Be it dual swords, a pair of muskets, or one of each, Kane is fond of a weapon in each hand.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Solomon for Meredith. Justified because she is his promise of redemption.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Meredith not-very-subtly hides behind a tree in order to check out Solomon when he's bathing in the river.
  • Evil Feels Good: The bandits who decided to join Malachi. "It is good!"
  • Evil Overlord: Malachi.
  • Evil Plan: Malachi informs Solomon that everything that transpired was meant to bring him here. Essentially so his master could send another minion to try and get him. It fails at every level.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Malachi, a Sorcerous Overlord.
  • The Faceless: The Masked Rider. Until The Reveal that is.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Happens to Solomon multiple times throughout the film. Makes you wonder how he survived as a soldier all those years. Good thing we have Mook Chivalry to compensate...
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Demons and demonic magic exist in this film, so God also presumably does, but also does Pagan magic.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Any one "infected" with the evil of Malachi is pretty much a slave to his will and eventually they become demons.
  • Flaming Sword: The weapon of choice for the Devil's Reaper. And a BFS at that.
  • Flash Back: Several major moments in Solomon's youth are explored through flashbacks.
  • Grim Reaper: The Devil's Reaper. Complete with fiery sword.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Solomon is led to believe that Meredith is dead, he gives in to drink and despair.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the end Solomon's willingness to sacrifice his soul to save Meredith even if it means his own damnation, is exactly what redeems him.
  • 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 Satan via human proxies (though having some non-Christian supernatural elements as well).
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The local fighters don't fight back until Kane leads them.
  • Human Notepad
    • Solomon is covered in religiously-themed tattoos and scars, apparently intended to ward off evil. And we get to see quite a lot of them.
    • 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.
  • I Gave My Word: Why Solomon is so determined; he gave a vow to save Meredith, and he'll fulfil it come hell or high water.
    Malachi: Why would you risk everything, even your soul, to save her?
    Solomon: I made a promise. I must keep it!
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Subverted. It turns out Marcus isn't in there after all, or if he is, can't fight his master's will. Solomon is forced to put him out of his misery.
  • Infernal Retaliation: The Masked Rider is put on fire by Solomon during their duel. He doesn't stop fighting.
  • I Will Fight No More Forever: Solomon swears off violence forever. It doesn't last.
  • I Will Find You: Meredith will be rescued if it's the last thing he does.
  • Jerkass
    • Marcus Kane comes across as a bully toward young Solomon.
    • Solomon himself is very much one during the intro.
  • Knight Errant: Solomon Kane is this trope. The film is essentially how he becomes the Knight Errant, hunting evil across the world.
  • Large Ham: Jason Flemyng's turn as Malachi.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Masked Rider is Solomon's brother.
  • Made of Iron: Solomon: in the final fight he gets a sword run straight through his shoulder, but is up and swinging in mere moments.
  • Man Behind the Man: Malachi serves the Devil.
  • Man on Fire: Solomon's duel with the Masked Rider ends up with the latter being set aflame by being stabbed with a torch. Not that it stops him.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The Masked Rider doubles as the commander of Malachi's army of possessed fighters as well as his champion.
  • Mercy Kill: Solomon shoots his father dead at his own urging. His killing of Marcus has overtures of this.
    Solomon: Rest in peace, brother.
  • Mr. Fanservice: None other than the title character, given that he's played by the very handsome James Purefoy. As mentioned in the Eating the Eye Candy entry, he even gets a Shirtless Scene.
  • The Musketeer: Solomon is proficient with both swords and flintlock guns.
  • Oh, Crap!: Meredith and Solomon's reaction when the Masked Rider stabs him from behind.
    • Also Solomon's reaction to seeing the fire demon Malachi has summoned to kill him.
    Malachi: See what the Devil has sent to claim you! [reveals a mirror portal containing the demon] This beast will not fail to drag you back to Hell! Your soul is damned!
  • Name of Cain: Solomon Kane is the antihero variety.
  • Neck Lift: The Masked Rider likes to crush Red Shirts' necks, and he does this to Solomon during their final battle.
  • Signs: Solomon's Puritan hat, naturally, given the source material.
  • Off with His Head!: Solomon ultimately defeats the Masked Rider by decapitating him.
    • He also did this to a random mook earlier in the movie, hacking the mook's neck repeatedly with a short dagger and throwing it aside.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: The villagers-turned-demons locked under the church are your typical cannibalistic undead.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Essentially Solomon's modus operandi.
  • Plague Doctor: A couple of them are briefly seen.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Head vs. ground.
    Kane: "Don't! You! Lie! To! Me!"
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: For those who have never heard Purefoy's native accent, the West Country voice can take getting used too.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Solomon's willingness to sacrifice his soul is exactly what saves it.
  • 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.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Unusual in that the father asked his son to do the deed.
  • Sequel Hook: The film is after all a blatant origin story. Apparently a trilogy was planned.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Solomon Kane.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Intentionally or not, Solomon surviving crucifixion is reminiscent of another Robert E. Howard creation, Conan the Barbarian. The magic recovery in particular reminds one of the Arnold movie.
  • Slashed Throat: Poor Samuel...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: For some reason the Devil has Malachi summon a giant lava demon to kill Solomon, rather than, for instance, the Reaper that Kane nearly killed himself escaping from last time. Its appearance at the beginning of the film is also the last.
  • Super Window Jump: Kane escapes the Reaper by diving through an ornate stained glass window.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Well that's one witch who should have spent more time ducking and less time taunting. Sword to the face... ouch.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: That massive fire-demon-thing hasn't showed up yet and it's the final battle....
  • 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. Honestly, Satan comes off as a Super-Persistent Predator who wastes an entire kingdom to claim a single soul.
  • Villain Respect: Masked Rider (by using one of his mooks as proxy) expresses respect for young Samuel showing great deal of courage despite being held at knifepoint, likely as a jab at Solomon's stubborn insistence not to fight. He still orders his mook to kill the boy.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Malachi sports a glorious one.
  • Volcanic Veins: The big magma demon, naturally.
  • War Is Glorious: In the intro it's clear Solomon Kane really loves his work. That is until he meets a reaper.
  • War Is Hell: After recounting his own personal experience, William Crowthorn informs his son that the bloodshed of battle and taking another's life is far from glorious.
  • White Mask of Doom: The Masked Rider.
  • 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.