Sharpe's Challenge (2006)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Outtakes-And Cut scenes
|Year Of Production||2006|
|Running Time||137:58 (Case: 200)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (98:58)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Tom Clegg|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu included music & motion.
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.
These are mostly extended scenes with a few stuff-ups at the end. Tedious.
20 stills from the show in one of the worst designed photo galleries I have seen.
This title is available in Region 1 & 2 in the same format . Draw.
The video quality is good.
The audio quality is good.
A small selection of extras, one of which is worth your time.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer|