Captain Solomon Kane (James Purefoy), a murderous mercenary in North Africa, finds himself confronting the Devil's Reaper at the climax of one of his bloodbath battles with the Ottomans. The Reaper has news for him. He tells him he is wanted by his master, Satan himself, for Solomon's soul is damned for his deeds of murder, greed, and ruthlessness.
They engage in a fierce sword fight and Solomon refuses to go to hell. He escapes, but a life of haunting nightmares and guilt drives him to seek refuge at a church. He begins living a solitary life in his new-found sanctuary with his body engraved with religious markings for protection. He knows that he is one of God's damned people and redemption does not come easy. The father of the church banishes him when he is instructed in his dream to do so, so that Solomon Kane would find his new purpose and redeem his soul.
The Crowthorns (a family of Puritans) rescue him from robbers who threaten his life, but he refuses to resort to violence. Dark magic is everywhere, and an evil sorcerer Malachi (pronounce mala-kaai) is plaguing the land. His followers, an army of men under spell, are committing mass scale slaughter, and taking people for slavery.
The Crowthorns cavern runs into one of Malachi's troops and the Crowthorns are slaughtered in front of Solomon. He breaks his vow and assumes his former ruthless killer role. The Crowthorn's daughter Meredith is kidnapped by Malachi's lieutenant, the Masked Rider. Mrs. Crowthorn is the only other survivor. In his dying moments, Mr. Crowthorn makes Solomon pledge to save Meredith and soul will be redeemed. So, the rest of Solomon's journey is his renewed mission, the mission to rescue Meredith. His purpose is not for his own sake but for the favor he owes the Crowthorns for saving his life, and attending to his needs while he recovered.
Solomon's determination crumbles as one of Malachi's troop soldier informs him of Meredith's death. Drunk, and exhausted from battle, Solomon succumbs to being crucified. His passion re-ignites when Meredith calls for help as her salve wagon drives past the burning city where Solomon hangs crucified. He frees himself and is rescued by a group of men in combat against Malachi. They also happen to be from Solomon's past battalion of fearless mercenaries.
The resistance explains to Solomon that Malachi rules from Solomon's ancestral land, and he surges in to battle, making his way through the dungeons. He finds his own father - the former king - under and evil spell, and held in captivity. He reveals to him that he is responsible for Malachi's hold over the land because he sought his services to revive his half-dead elder son, Marcus. Solomon had accidentally thrown Marcus off a cliff, in an attempt to save a girl from his evil brother who was on road to inheriting the throne. The captive king tells Solomon that the Masked Rider is Marcus, and he serves as Malachi's right hand man. The mask hides the grotesqueness of his face. Also, Solomon must kill the king to break Malachi's spell of nobody being able to harm him until the king is alive. And so, Solomon kills the king. Also, he must kill Marcus.
The climax is a long-awaited battle fought between Marcus, Malachi, and Solomon. Meredith is held captive there in a cage, and Malachi uses her blood to unleash a fierce demon from a hell's portal to take Solomon's soul away.
At the end of a gruesome battle, Solom sacrifices himself to save Meredith. The demon is destroyed, Malachi is destroyed, and Solomon falls dead to the ground as his soul is sucked into hell.
His soul is then redeemed as his vow to Mr. Crowthorn is fulfilled. He breathes again and reunites Meredith with her mother - the only one left alive. Solomon Kane journeys on, continuing his mission to fight evil in the land.
It is a typical good vs evil story, set in the dark age. I really liked James Purefoy's performance. The story takes a very sad turn when the Crowthorns are slaughtered. There is definitely a lot of slaughter in the movie. There are very strong elements of faith in there. The central idea is one man's pursuit for redemption despite knowing that his soul is damned. There are battle scenes - involving sword and guns - and there is no explicitly stated love story between Meredith and Solomon, so I thoroughly enjoyed!
Also, my Lord of the Rings infested mind couldn't help but compare the demon with the Balrog. Of course, the Balrog is incomparable.