Scarred and tattooed, the swashbuckling hero of this dark sword and sorcery movie bears the marks of his brutal life like stigmata; the impression left by British writer-director Michael J Bassett’s monstrously entertaining action-adventure is just as indelible.
Rather than adapt one of the 'Savage Tales of Solomon Kane' written by Conan the Barbarian’s creator Robert E Howard, Bassett has created a character-driven yet action-packed ‘origins’ story, one that traces his hero’s journey from bloodthirsty pirate through peaceful pilgrim to conflicted Puritan avenger – complete with cape, distinctive black hat, pistols and swords.
James Purefoy is intensely charismatic as Kane, who, escaping the clutches of a soul-sucking demon, renounces violence. But when the Puritan family he befriends is slaughtered by the sorcerer Malachi’s disfigured henchman, he takes up the sword again, vowing to rescue their enslaved daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood).
Grounded in a believable 16th-century English milieu that sharpens rather than blunts its fantastical edge, the film’s epic vision bears comparison with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, its imaginative supernatural elements confidently fused with a savage reality. Nigel Floyd