Sharpe as always
Terence Chua | Singapore | 01/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sharpe's Battle is significant because of a couple of things - it is based on the only Bernard Cornwell Sharpe novel to be written while the series was in production, and in it Sharpe not only doesn't get the girl, he turns her down! It is 1813, and when Wellington is assigned the Spanish Royal Irish Guards, a motely bunch who have never fired a musket, he decides to rid himself of them by assigning them the hardest taskmaster he knows - Major Richard Sharpe. However, there are a couple of complications with Wellington's plan: one, Sharpe gets to actually *like* the Irish guards and wants to turn them into soldiers, and Sharpe is also the target of a vendetta by the villanous General Guy Loup, a Frenchman with a wolf fetish. Add to this mix the teetering marriage of Lord Kiely, the guards' commander, his sinister mistress Juanita, and reports of English atrocities in Ireland threatening to start a mutiny and you have the makings of a classic Sharpe adventure.My main problem with the Sharpe TV series as a whole is that the budget doesn't really allow for the huge battles Cornwell describes. Where in the novel the action takes place in 1811 around the battle for Fuentes de Onoro, the TV version places it in a little town with no real consequence to the war at large. However, this is forgiveable because the acting and the dialogue is top notch. Even if the plot elements are predictable, you get a set of great characters, and even Lord Kiely is more three-dimensional than you initially give him credit for. And if you're a follower of the series, be prepared - one regular is going to bite the dust."
Richard Sharpe and his Chosen Men go hunting wolves
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The seventh movie in the Sharpe series is set in September 1813 as Wellington is chasing Napoleon back through the Pyrenees into France in the final stage of the Peninsula campaign. While a final victory seems close at hand, the French are fighting a fierce rear-guard action and each yard of ground is being paid for with British blood. His Most Catholic Majesty, King Ferdinand VII of Spain, offers his English allies his bodyguard, the Royal Irish Guard. This does not sit well with Wellington (Hugh Fraser), not only because the bodyguard have never seen action but also because they are Irish (or the sons of Irish refugees in the case of the palace guard). A third of his army is Irish and their loyalty is in question, especially as word comes from back home of new atrocities inflicted by the English. Wellington's solution is to have Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his Chosen Men see to the training of the guard troops, knowing this will stick in the craw of their leader, Lord Kiely (Jason Durr).
Sharpe and Kiely have already crossed paths and gotten off to a bad start. Kiely has romantic illusions about the glory of battle, but actually proves to be smart enough to understand the value of the lessons Sharpe keeps imparting. Besides, Sharpe has already had a nasty encounter with Brigadier Loup (Oliver Cotton), the commander of an elite French unit decked out in wolf furs. Sharpe catches a couple of Loup's men raping a girl in a village and has them executed. Loup vows to see Sharpe dead (get in line, guy), so we know what the climax of this one is going to be, but only if our hero can deal with the Irish troops complaining about "the Troubles" back home (it is interesting to see the American media causing problems at the start of the 19th century). O'Rourke (Liam Carney), one of the palace guards, seems inclined to cause some trouble himself and we cannot be having that now.
Meanwhile there are some romantic subplots that do not, for once, involve Sharpe bedding anyone (which is a good thing). Kiely is being followed around by his wife, Lady Kiely (Allie Byrne), whose husband has been ignoring her since the death of their infant child while he has taken up with the Doña Juanita (Phelim Drew), a partisan who is supposed to be helping the Allies. Lady Kiely turns to Sharpe for help, which puts out hero in an interesting position. Then there is young Perkins (Lyndon Davies), who falls in love with the young girl Sharpe's men rescued from Loup's men. However, the best these romantic relationships can hope for is a bittersweet ending, and only one gets to end that happily.
In "Sharpe's Battle" it is once again interesting to see how the production makes the most out of what little it has to give us a sense of Bernard Cornwell's novels about the Napoleonic Wars. We get a sense of the training and tactics involved in shooting a musket, but the battles usually end up being people in costumes running around, although this time we get a better sense of the Chosen Men as marksmen. Yet in the end it comes down to Richard Sharpe swinging a sword. This is an inherent flaw in the series, but that is what happens when you are dealing with the budgets for television movies, and the attraction of the Sharpe stories comes down to the interaction between him and his men, especially Sgt. Harper (Daragh O'Malley) and the singing Daniel Hagman (John Tams). The Sharpe movies come down to characters more than action, which is how it should be.
Swashbuckling and Tears
M. I. Thompson | Newton, NJ USA | 08/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like all of the Sharpe installments, this episode features the adventures of Richard Sharpe. This time, he must take charge of the Royal Irish Guard, a special force more useful as decoration to the Spanish King than as a fighting force. The episode is both action-packed and heartrending as one of Sharpe's long-time riflemen is lost. Sean Bean's mastery of the character is apparent, and fans of the series will not be disappointed."