Review: Solomon Kane (TIFF)
PLOT: James Purefoy is Solomon Kane, a soldier of fortune, whose wicked ways earn him a first class ticket to hell. Being a skilled warrior, he manages to escape Satans reaper, and flees to England- where he seeks solace in the church. Eventually, hes cast out, and left to fend for himself- which proves to be difficult, as hes sworn an oath to become a man of peace in order to avoid hell. Of course, oaths are made to be broken, and when a peaceful family of farmers who offer Kane shelter are slaughtered by the disciples of the demonic high priest, Malachi- Kane heads out on the war path, determined to rescue the familys only surviving member- their teenage daughter.
REVIEW: Ive been a bit surprised at how SOLOMON KANE hasnt built a heck of a lot of buzz after playing midnight madness at TIFF, as I found it to be a solid fantasy thriller, anchored by a truly badass performance from star James Purefoy.
KANE is based on the pulp novels by author Robert E. Howard, who created CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and RED SONJA. Naturally, this is nowhere near as lavish as John Millius CONAN THE BARBARIAN- which launched Arnold Schwarzenegger to stardom in 1981, but its still a pretty successful genre flick, thats far better than any of the fantasy films weve been flooded with over the last few years (ERAGON, CITY OF EMBER, etc.).
Chief among KANEs strengths is the solid cast, led by Purefoy, who made a great Mark Anthony on HBOs ROME, and has seemed on the cusp of stardom for years, but has never really made it to the next level. KANE proves that hes got what it takes to be a credible action hero, and some of the action scenes (especially the one that comes right after he breaks his oath, and features one of the best onscreen decapitations Ive ever seen), are truly kickass, and refreshingly R-rated.
Theres also a surprisingly strong supporting cast, including Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige, and the one and only Max Von Sydow, as Kanes estranged father. THE OFFICE (UK version) fans will also get a kick out of Mackenzie Crooks (GARETH!!!) small role as a priest, with a penchant for keeping cannibals as pets.
Of course, SOLOMON KANE isnt perfect. The limited budget is painfully evident toward the end, with a bit of dodgy CGI in the final showdown. The film also comes to a bit of an abrupt end unnecessarily resolving Kanes ongoing issues with the Devil- which should have been left for future installments. Still, Id say that overall this was a pretty tight fantasy flick- and throughout the film, I kept thinking to myself that this is what the similarly themed VAN HELSING should have been. Hopefully, if theres ever a SOLOMON KANE 2, director Michael J. Bassett will get a little more money to play with.
Other reviews from TIFF: MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS - UP IN THE AIR - JENNIFER'S BODY - THE INVENTION OF LYING - DAYBREAKERS - YOUTH IN REVOLT - THE BOYS ARE BACK - THE ROAD - THE INFORMANT!- BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS - A SERIOUS MAN- LEAVES OF GRASS- SOLITARY MAN- THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS - MICMACS - WHIP IT- [REC]2- ONG BAK 2
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