Back to Business
Terence Chua | Singapore | 04/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After mucking about in England during "Sharpe's Regiment", Sharpe and Harper are back in Spain, as Wellington dithers about which way to go to invade France. Along comes the Maquerre, a French aristocrat loyal to the Royalist cause who claims that Bordeaux is ripe for revolt against Napoleon. Sharpe and the South Essex are sent with his new and very green commanding officer, Colonel Bamfylde to take the Maquerre's ancestral castle, a simple mission which quickly becomes more complicated than not. In the meantime, Sharpe's new bride, Jane Gibbons is sick with malaria, and may not survive to see Sharpe return - if he manages at all to do so.Well, it's back to blowing things up and firing upon the French for old Sharpie, and we're all the better for it. The Chosen Men return, as do the wonderfully grotesque "Sweet" William Frederickson and Sharpe's own nemesis, the French spymaster Ducos. This is a competently told Sharpe, almost by the numbers, with the only thing of note being a completely useless and idiotic Colonel Bamfylde, who shouldn't be entrusted with the command of a toilet brush, let alone a regiment. They overplay this quite a bit and it got annoying - surely nobody could be that stupid. However, having read the military history of that period, I could almost believe it.The subplot of Jane on the verge of death had me pretty bored. I know that the ladies love the romance bits, but even then, Jane is a pretty useless character, with no real personality. But then, that was the purpose she served in the books, until.... ah, well, no spoilers.The print on this DVD is suprisingly clear, better than some of the others in fact. Not as crisp as we spoilt viewers demand these days, but above the rest. Perhaps the film stock was improving as the series went on.A formulaic Sharpe, but we're getting closer to the good stuff now, and right at the end of the road waits a small Belgian town called Waterloo..."
Sharpe's SIEGE... another GREAT adventure!
Ben Breen | Champaign, IL | 04/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say? I personally found this to be one of my favorite episodes of SHARPE'S. Its not quite as good as the first two episodes (RIFLES and EAGLE) but SIEGE is great all the same. If you're not familiar with the series, see try to see the other episodes first. If you are familiar with the series, try to see REGIMENT before watching SIEGE. A new character is introduced in that story, and she's important in this one.This adventure sees our favorite British Riflemen on a mission to take a French castle, during the British invasion of France (1813). While battling the French, British forces must also battle fever, and political manipulations from all around. This episode also features appearances by some re-occuring characters (both friend and foe).The video and audio quality are great, though there are no supplements on the disc, like the other SHARPES discs. Good acting, witty dialogue, and some of the best action scenes in the series make this a must own for fans of SHARPES!"
Sharpe and his Chosen Men finally make it into France
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The opening scrawl for a lot of the most recent adventures in the Sharpe series have been telling us that Wellington is above to move the British Army from Spain into France itself. The Duke (Hugh Fraser) does not quite make it across the border in this tenth film in the series, but Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his Chosen Men certainly do. The military question is what direction will Wellington go once he crosses into France and Napoleon's spy master Maj. Pierre Ducos (Féodor Atkine) has a plan to force the British to go where the French wish them to go.
Our hero becomes involved when a French noble named Maquerre (Christian Brendel) comes into camp and says that the people of Bourdeaux, loyal to the Bourbons, are ready to rise against Napoleon once the British army shows up. Wellington send a force under the command of Horce Bampfylde (Christopher Villiers), a young colonel who is the son of an old general, along with Sharpe and the Prince of Wales' own men. Sharpe has just married Jane Gibbons (Abigail Cruttenden), but his new bride is down with the fever that is decimating the troops and her worried husband has to leave her behind.
Of course Bampfylde is wet behind the ears and arrogant enough to challenge Sharpe to a duel (the major takes exception to the colonel's bad language in the officer's mess in front of Jane), until it is pointed out that Sharpe is the guy who gunned down French cavalrymen to save Wellington, captured one of Napoleon's eagles, and all the rest of the high points on his military resume. You would think the British army would be running out of idiots to make Sharpe's superior officer, but not even Wellington with an army in the field has managed to find such oafs in short supply. True, this is a recurring element in Bernard Cromwell's stories about this maverick officer, but you do get tired of seeing all those troops in the nice red uniforms being slaughtered because of the incompetence of their commanders.
"Sharpe's Siege" refers to a French fort that Sharpe has to take (Bampfylde has not a clue how to) and then defend (because Bampfylde decides not to hold it despite Wellington's orders). In addition to being fearful for Jane's life Sharpe has to deal with Catherine (Amira Casar), a young French noblewoman taking care of her dying mother and Sergeant Major Harper (Daragh O'Malley) having a toothache that not even the consumption of mass quantities of brandy can help.
There are a trio of things that make this an above average offering in this excellent series for me. The first is that despite the limited resources and extras the defense of the fort at the climax of the story is well handled. For once we really get a sense of what Sharpe and the defenders are trying to do and how it will work. The second is that there is a nice touch with the French colonel (Stephane Cornicard) and his junior officer, Gaston (Ecrument Balakoglu). They are not exactly comic relief in this episode, but you get the sense of two men who are weary of the war they have been waging for so many years and too many miles, where the debacle of Moscow is the base line by which the horrors of war are judged.
Finally, there is the question of who is the best shot in Sharpe's brigade. Young Robinson (Danny Cunningham) feels the title belongs to him, but we all know that Hagman (John Tams, who also does the music for these films) will have something to say about that. How the matter is settled is a nice little scene that follows up on Sharpe's confrontation with the story's traitor, wherein our hero promises that the bad guy he will be shot dead the first chance they get. The guy should have listened.
So, at long last Sharpe and his men are in France with Wellington and the rest of the British army about to join them (at least, I would hope so). Now that we have gotten past that particular milestone the next question is when will Sharpe receive his promotion to colonel? He went from lieutenant to captain to major fairly quickly and with Wellington's own spy master suggesting that Sharpe is ready for the post the time may well be near.