Tsuruoka | Columbia, MD United States | 07/23/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It give me no pleasure to write this review. After years of thoroughly enjoying Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels I finally caved in and picked up one of the films. SHARPE'S GOLD is one of my favorite of the novels so I figured I'd chosen well.
I was wrong.
This movie is to the novel as MOONRAKER was to Ian Flemming's work.
Sharpe is indeed in the movie, and I think the word "gold" is uttered once or twice, but that's where the similarity ends.Highly disappointing.
The only reason I gave it two stars is Sean Bean - who really does fullfil my image of Richard Sharpe.Read the book. Don't waste time or money on this movie."
Start with this one and you'll end with it
Masher | Atlanta, GA | 02/16/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Had the first of the Sharpe's episodes I viewed been this one, it would have been my last. Most of the series rises above the the genre of pulp escapist adventure-- this one sinks below it. The screenplay is the culprit here, filled with laughably improbable plot devices and threadbare cliches. It seems a band of Spanish Freedom Fighters are actually a secret religious cult, practising human sacrifice based on Aztec rituals (mysterously imported into Spain hundreds of years before the 1813 setting). This band of merry men has captured some English deserters, and wants to exchange them for modern rifles. Sharpe is chosen for the mission, but upon discovering their true nature is so horrified, he slays them all and dynamites their mountain base. If you're not bothered by his company routing a far larger number of well-armed and experienced men in a strongly fortified position (all without taking any casualties), then you certainly won't shrug at Lord Wellington's teenage niece coming along for the ride. This lovely, well-bred young lass needed only an intense glance from Sharpe, before she's ready to be plowed by him (Lt. Ayres' words, not mine) whenever and wherever, even next to a pile of freshly sacrificed corpses. Oh, she's also a crack shot ("I only hunted rabbits before Sir!") and assists in the military victories also. That is, before she is captured, given mind-altering drugs, and prepared for sacrifice by having her perky young breasts painted with Aztec symbols. Will Sharpe arrive in time to save her? Such drama!If you consider your collection incomplete without the entire series, buy this episode. But take my advise-- leave the shrinkwrap intact."
Bit of a disappointment
Kenneth B. Strumpf | Manlius, NY USA | 01/10/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I really like this series. I've seen several episodes and have also read some of the books. So far I've found this to be the weakest. First, the story is nothing like the book. It contains a completely contrived romance and an unconvincing story about retrieving deserters. Second, Aztecs in Spain in 1813? Where does this come from? Third, the relationship between Sharpe and the Provost Lt. Ayres is quite bizarre. Why does Ayres persist in baiting Sharpe? Does he enjoy being beaten? Still, I give it three stars for the acting by Sean Bean and Daragh O'Malley (sp?) as well as the action sequences. Also, because it is a Sharpe story."
Ridiculous plot ruins this Sharpe outing
David C. Read | Glendale, CA USA | 01/11/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have read five of the Cornwell novels (including Sharpe's Gold) and seen four of the Sean Bean TV adaptations. This TV adaptation is by far the worst, mainly because it totally changes Bernard Cornwell's plot.
In the book, Wellington sent Sharpe on a secret mission to bring back a cache of gold in the hands of Spanish partisans. The gold was needed to pay for the fortification of Wellington's position around Lisbon, to which he was forced to retreat in 1810. In the process of securing this gold, and keeping it out of the hands of the Spanish (to which it rightfully belonged), Sharpe was forced by circumstances to destroy the main gunpowder storage depot in the city of Almeida, for all intents and purposes destroying the city and handing it over to the French just as the seige had barely begun. (But the fortification of Lisbon was strategically much more important to the Peninsular campaign than the holding of Almeida, which could not have been held anyway.) The actual cause of the gunpowder explosion is not known to history, so Cornwell as able to weave Sharpe into the narrative as the cause. It was in the book Sharpe's Gold that Sharpe met his Spanish lady-friend and later wife, Theresa (whereas in the TV series, he meets her in the first episode, Sharpe's Rifles).
Unfortunately, none of Cornwell's plot makes its way into the TV episode. Instead, the action is moved back three years, to 1813, when Wellington is contemplating the invasion of France. Sharpe is sent on a mission to exchange Baker rifles for British stragglers and deserters held by Spanish partisans. Except that they are not just partisans, but the remnant of Aztec captives taken from Mexico to Spain almost 300 years earlier. Amazingly, after almost three centuries, they are still a separate group of people and still practice their cult of human sacrifice in a cave wherein they have placed some of the relics of their precolombian culture (including the titular gold). This is about as stupid a plot as it is possible to imagine, and a real insult to Cornwell's historical novel.
Please watch these TV episodes in order--don't start with this one--or you'll never watch another episode, and you'll miss out on all the fun. Also, I would offer the general observation that the TV episodes are a bit of disappointment after reading the Cornwell novels, because the grand scale of action that Cornwell describes simply could not be reproduced on a mid-1990s British TV budget (if it could be reproduced on film at all). But the first three TV episodes--Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe's Eagle, and Sharpe's Company--were nothing like the disappointment of Sharpe's Gold"
Yes, there are some serious problems with this Sharpe story
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/03/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have not (yet) read Bernard Cornwell's series of novels about maverick officer Richard Sharpe serving in the Duke of Wellington's army during the Napoleonic War, so I cannot speak to how well the television movie version of "Sharpe's Gold" follows the original novel. Given what I see here the answer is not very well. But even in my ignorance I had some major problems with this sixth adventure in the Sharpe series.
The setting remains Spain in the summer of 1813 as Wellington's army is driving the French out of Spain. At the beginning of "Sharpe's Gold" the French wagon trains are coming under relentless attack by the British as they try to reach the protection of Marshal Soult. Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his Chosen Men are part of the harassing forces and after the fight he has harsh words for Sergeant Rood (Peter Hugo-Daly), who men hid until the shooting was done and then started looting. Rood is stripped of his rank and branded a deserter, but we know this is not the last we will see of him. We have seen the problems that Wellington's army has had with deserters in Spain, and that continues to be the case here.
Then Sharpe encounters the arrogant young Lieutenant Ayers (Ian Shaw), one of the agents of the Provost, responsible for bringing back deserters and hanging looters. One of Sharpe's Chosen Men grabs a scrawny chicken in a deserted Spanish town and when Ayers drags the man off to be hanged, Sharpe forces the lieutenant to return his man at gunpoint. Up to know "gentlemen" officers superior to Sharpe in rank have plagued him. But now an inferior officer exhibits the same sort of disdain and pushes things to great lengths. My problem is that after that point I find it hard to believe that Sharpe and his men would find anything this twerp does to be amusing. I keep expecting somebody to put a bullet in the back of the head of one of these buffoons and Ayers was another prime target who such a fate, but Cornwell never likes to take the expected path with Sharpe and his villains.
The idea of exchanging guns for deserters is a solid enough idea for Sharpe's next mission. They do not all have to be capturing fortresses and the like. But the mission takes a back seat to the fact that two women, Wellington's cousin, Bess Nugent (Rosaleen Linehan) and her daughter, Ellie (Joyne Ashbourne) have made their way from Ireland to Spain to find Will Nugent (Peter Eyre), a map-maker who is apparently also a scholar who is clearly out of his depth in the army. Wellington (Hugh Fraser) tries to explain that the invasion of France is slightly more important than looking for one lost man, but the women will not take no for an answer. After all, Ellie is almost as good of a shot as Sharpe and what is the worst thing that can happen to two women out by themselves in the middle of a war torn land where there are partisans between the British and French armies? Exactly.
Then we get to the really stupid part of the story, which are these Spanish guerillas who are convinced that they are the descendants of the Aztecs and like to rip the hearts out of living prisoners. It seems Will Nugent was studying them as well and even Lieutenant Ayers knows something about the quaint customs of the Aztecs. Apparently, even in the early 19th century it could still be a small world after all. This is one of those times when you could clearly have addition by subtraction by just getting rid of this Aztec nonsense. There is plenty of horror in war without transplanting human sacrifice from the New World to the Iberian Peninsula. I kept thinking of the old Hammer film "The Lost Continent," where a modern steam liner lost in the Sargossa Sea unexpectedly finds the Spanish Inquisition, because "Sharpe's Gold" comes across as equally improbable in that regard.
The emotional depth of this particular adventure rings hollow for the most point. For example, there is a point where Ellie is forced to shoot not a rabbit or a target but a living man. Killing a young French soldier upsets her greatly since a woman proves herself by giving life and not taking it away. But she is risking the lives of lots of young British soldiers by forcing them to chase her and her mother over the hills and far away to find her father. Her stupid arrogance in this regard makes it difficult to express much sympathy for her when bad things happen to her and her family, which is not what you want when telling this sort of a story. You are supposed to want to see Sharpe rescue her and not become indifferent to her fate.
What emotional power exists in "Sharpe's Gold" comes from Rifleman Daniel Hagman (John Tams), the singer amongst the Chosen Men, who makes particularly effective use of a song about the Provost's men hanging a soldier to get under the skin of Lieutenant Ayers. Usually it is Sergeant Harper that gets the main supporting role, but Hagman is at least his equal this time around, although it would have been nice to have seen the Chosen Men's best shot go up against the lovely lady in the shooting contest. "