Sharpe's Challenge (2006)

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Released 5-Oct-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Outtakes-And Cut scenes
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 137:58 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (98:58) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Clegg
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Bernard Cornwell
Russell Lewis
Karan Arora
Sean Bean
Nicholas Blane
Lucy Brown
Oliver Chris
Michael Cochrane
Peter-Hugo Daly
Gary Dunnington
Michael Elwyn
Hugh Fraser
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Dominic Muldowney
John Tams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Sharpe series of novels and telemovies based around the adventures of a soldier during and after the Napoleonic wars was something I was blissfully unaware of until this latest film, Sharpe's Challenge, appeared recently on the ABC. There have been 15 movies made in the series, all starring Sean Bean in the leading role of Richard Sharpe. The first fourteen were made in the period 1993 - 1997 and then there was a large gap until this one was made this year. They have all been directed by Tom Clegg and quite a few of the cast members (besides Bean) have made multiple appearances. The most notable of these is Daragh O'Malley who plays Sharpe's offsider Patrick Harper and has appeared in all the films.

    Sharpe is a young Sergeant in the first film of the series (Sharpe's Rifles) who saves the life of General Sir Arthur Wellesley, thus earning himself a field commission as an officer. His mother was a whore and he was born in a brothel, so his upbringing certainly sets him apart from other officers of the time who were mostly from rich, privileged upbringings. He is smart, tough, uncompromising, resourceful, brave and very annoying to his superiors, especially if he has no respect for them. The series then follows his adventures through the various battles of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain & France and then on to other adventures such as in India. This is where this new film is set in 1803 and then mostly in 1817.

    This movie starts in 1803, some 6 years before the earlier movies were set. It shows Sharpe in India as a Sergeant in the King's army arriving at an East India company fort. He is there to collect some cartridges which have been recovered by the East India Company, who had their own troops in India at the time. While he is there, another troop of East India company soldiers approach and at the order of their officer, Major William Dodd (Toby Stephens), they murder everyone in the fort. Sharpe is the only survivor, more by luck than good management. The story then cuts forward to 1817, when Sharpe has retired from the army as a Colonel and is living on a farm in the south of France. He receives word that Sir Arthur Wellesley (now Lord Wellington) wants to see him and he journeys to London. Wellington wants him to go to India as there is an uprising there by one of the princes, Khandy Rao. They had previously sent another agent who they have lost contact with. The other agent was Sharpe's long time offsider Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley). Sharpe only agrees to go because Harper is missing. Upon arrival he finds that Dodd is commanding the army of the rebel prince and decides to complete the mission, especially when the daughter of one of the English generals is kidnapped. Sharpe's old sparring partner Gen Simmerson (Michael Cochrane) also returns in this film.

    This is a much bigger production than the two older films which I have seen and it's certainly good to see that they went to the trouble of getting the original director and some of the cast back together for this return to the series. The story is interesting and the acting and stunts are of good quality. My only real criticism would be that this movie could have been edited better as at 2 hours and 20 minutes it feels a little long. The film was shot on location in north-western India using real locations, some of which you will recognise if you have seen Jewel in the Crown or even the recent film adaptation of Vanity Fair.

    An excellent addition to the series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but not without issue.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably sharp and clear although you wouldn't get excited. It was quite grainy for such a new production, especially in darker scenes and backgrounds. Shadow detail was quite good. There is no evidence of low level noise.

    The colour was very good, replicating well the brightness of north-western India and the colourful costumes.

    There were no obvious artefacts.

    There are subtitles In English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read. There are burned in captions for other languages.

    The layer change occurs at 98:58 and caused a bit of a pause and slight jump.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was quite good generally, although occasional lines were a little difficult to make out. Audio sync was fine.

    The score by Dominic Muldowney & John Tams is pretty good featuring folk style instrumentation and some vocal songs. The theme is quite memorable.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included music & motion.

Behind The Scenes (47:08)

    Despite the fact that a 50 minute making of seems slightly over the top for a telemovie, this is a good quality documentary about the making of the film. It is 16x9 enhanced and subtitles are available. It includes interviews with the cast & crew and also the author of the books. Topics covered include characters, locations, costumes, sets, visual effects, sword training, the extras, stunts, goofs, firearm issues and makeup. A story about an extra called Vip trying to meet Sean Bean runs through the documentary. Good stuff.

Cut Scenes & Outtakes (15:55)

    These are mostly extended scenes with a few stuff-ups at the end. Tedious.

Photo Gallery

    20 stills from the show in one of the worst designed photo galleries I have seen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This title is available in Region 1 & 2 in the same format . Draw.

Summary

    A new 2006 entry into the long-running series of Richard Sharpe telemovies starring Sean Bean.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    A small selection of extras, one of which is worth your time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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