If you enjoy B-grade fantasy films with A-grade effects and plot twists then you will love this movie.
If you want a heartfelt treatise that examines the nobler and gentler side of demons and devil worship, plagues and pestilence then there is nothing here for you. Put your Athame up, and cast your maledictions elsewhere.
Before getting into the plot, the film has a brilliant sound track and some of the best medieval trappings in terms of clothing, accouterments, and scenery that I have seen in a movie.
Warning! Beyond this point, there lies spoilers!
Nicolas Cage (Behmen) and Ron Perlman (Felson), two B-Movie giants, team up to play a pair of disaffected Templars fighting in the crusades. The movie plays to the commonly held, contemporary view that the crusades were not about religion at all. A disgusted Cage and Perlman desert God's army and head home.
So far, it is the plot of 500 movies (including recent revisionist versions of Robin Hood).
Ah! That is when the writer, Bragi Schut, throws his first plot twist. Behmen and Felson are recognized in a town and captured as deserters. Nicely played Sir! That is a likely occurrence. Unlike many of the recent movies that play the townspeople of the Middle Ages as secular humanists; the townspeople were in fact typically quite devoted to the church and would have turned in deserters from the Holy War.
The duo is accosted by a dire Christopher Lee playing a cardinal dying of the plague. The cardinal has discovered that the plague has been caused by a witch; he wants Behmen and Felson to escort the witch to a monastery that has a copy of a sacred text, the Key of Solomon.
The pair is accompanied by an altar boy who wants to be a knight, a priest, a hired hand of the cardinal, and a merchant/guide.
Director Dominic Sena does an excellent job of dropping enough hints about the truth behind the witch to make the final plot twist a reasonable revelation.
The group takes on rotten bridges, haunted forests, and plague filled villages.
On the way to the monastery, the party loses its hired hand and merchant.
When the group arrives at the monastery, the witch reveals itself to actually be a demon!
The demon has been systematically destroying copies of the Key of Solomon for the past several hundred years. The copy at the monastery is the last.
An epic melee occurs, and good triumphs over evil. The plague is lifted. Behmen and Felson have their faith in the church restored and die heroes.
Turns out that demons are bad.
In addition to the well-done aspects of the movie already mentioned, there are two more points that make this a great buy.
First, the extras on the DVD are very good. The deleted scenes are especially insightful, but they would have made for a different movie. I liked both versions.
Second, the banter between Felson and Behmen is extremely well-done. As a combat veteran, I could imagine brothers in arms saying the quips that the two made, e.g., "not bad for a dungeon," "forget the souls, I'll take some chicken," etc.
All in all, it would be an excellent addition to any B-grade film fan's library.