Solomon Kane is a 2009 epic action film directed by Michael J. Bassett based on the pulp magazine character Solomon Kane created in 1928 by Robert E. Howard. James Purefoy stars in the title role. Despite optioning the rights in 1997, filming did not begin until January 2008. The film is an origin story for the Kane character and intended to be the first of a trilogy. The plot follows a redemption story for Kane, from the end of his life as a privateer, through the salvation of his soul by rescuing a Puritan girl and the beginning of his life as the Puritan avenger of the source material. It was produced by a consortium of French, Czech and British companies and mostly filmed in the Czech Republic. The film was first shown at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. It went on general release in France, Spain and the UK over the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. Reception was generally favourable, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 82% following the UK release; the film's atmosphere and Purefoy's acting attracted the most acclaim.
The film opens in North Africa, 1600, with the English mercenary, Solomon Kane, leading the crew of his ship into battle against the Ottoman occupiers of a fortress town. After defeating the Ottoman defenders, Solomon and his men enter the fortress, only to enter a room of enchanted mirrors. Demons trapped within the mirrors attack and kill most of the crew, but Solomon fights his way into the throne room of the fortress. Inside, as he helps himself to the fortress's treasure, a demon dressed in hooded black robes and armed with a flaming sword appears. The demon announces itself as the Devil's Reaper and tells Solomon his evil deeds have irrevocably damned his soul, and he is now destined for Hell. After a brief duel, Solomon cries "I am not yet ready for Hell!" and leaps from the throne room window into the sea. As he falls to safety, the Reaper snarls his soul will be the Devil's. Following his encounter with The Devil's Reaper, Solomon returns home to England and finds sanctuary in a monastery in the countryside. However, due to the Abbot's dreams, Solomon is soon expelled and sent back to his ancestral estates in Devon, where Solomon has not been since his father disowned him. Along the way, he is ambushed by robbers and, as he has fully embraced a life of peace and will not fight back, he is knocked unconscious. He is found and treated by the Crowthorns, a family of puritans heading west to travel to the New World. He travels with them but the family is itself ambushed by corrupted followers of the sorcerer Malachi and his brutal lieutenant, the Masked Rider. Most of the family is killed, except Meredith, who is kidnapped, and her mother Katherine. When Samual, Meredith's younger brother, is mercilessly slain right before his shocked eyes, an enraged Solomon charges into battle, killing several. The head of the family, William Crowthorn, declares as his last words that Solomon's soul will be redeemed if he rescues Meredith. Solomon, having now re-embraced a life of violence to fight off the attackers, takes a horse, arms himself and sets out in pursuit. Solomon battles Malachi's followers across the countryside, rescuing many captives but not finding Meredith. On his journey, he meets a deranged priest who informs him Malachi's followers are taking the weaker survivors of their raids as slaves, while corrupting the strong into soldiers. The priest tries to feed Solomon to his parishioners, who have become undead ghouls. Solomon escapes, only to be set upon by the robbers who attacked him earlier, who have been turned by the Rider into soldiers of Malachi. Killing all but one of the robbers for interrogation, Solomon is told that Meredith is dead. Solomon refuses to believe this and angrily leaves the robber for the undead to feed on. Moving on, Solomon comes to a village, where he heads to an Inn and drinks to excess, his soul now definitely damned for not saving the girl. Former shipmates recognise him and try to recruit him as a leader of a resistance against Malachi. Kane refuses. However, Malachi's followers hear of this and attack the Inn at dawn, crucifying any members of the attempted resistance movement including Kane. As they move away, a cart containing Meredith passes behind them. She recognises Kane and calls out. He realises that he still has a chance to save her and pulls himself off the cross. Before Malachi's remaining men can kill him, they are killed by survivors of the resistance, who take Solomon to safety. Kane is treated with magic by an old pagan witch and is soon ready to return to the pursuit. The resistance explain some of Malachi's background (that he was once a priest who became a sorcerer to gain power) and reveal that he now lives in Kane's ancestral home. Kane leads them into the castle via an underground passage. As the resistance fights Malachi's soldiers, Kane heads for the dungeons and frees many of the captives. He does not find Meredith, but he does find his father, emaciated and locked in sorcerous chains. His father explains that the Masked Rider is really Kane's older brother Marcus Kane, whom Kane thought he had killed in an accident shortly after he was banished as a teenager. Marcus was, however, only severely injured and left in a coma: after the priests and healers failed to awake him, Solomon's father turned to Malachi, who brought Marcus back to life: however, Marcus was horribly disfigured and left subservient to Malachi, who turned Marcus into his enforcer: the Masked Rider. At his father's request, Solomon reluctantly shoots him dead and heads to the throne room to confront Malachi. In the throne room, Kane confronts Malachi, who remarks everything that has happened to Solomon was meant to lead him to this place before disappearing. Solomon also finds Meredith caged in the throne room: before she can warn him it is a trap, Marcus stabs Solomon in the back with his sword. Despite his injury, Solomon pleads with his brother, but his cries fall on deaf ears so he grudgingly draws his sword and the two brothers fight to the death: after a lengthy battle, Solomon sets fire to Marcus and decapitates him. At the same time, Malachi uses Meredith's "innocent blood" to open a portal, thus releasing a demon sent to claim Solomon's soul, which attacks Kane. After a desperate fight, Kane shoots Malachi in the head, and all three souls (Kane, Malachi and the demon) are apparently pulled into Hell. It transpires that Kane, in saving Meredith from Malachi, redeemed his soul and so escapes Hell. Meredith travels to America with her mother, while Solomon, after burying his father and brother, declares that evil exists elsewhere in the world and that he will put an end to it.