Sharpe's Sword (1995)

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Released 3-Apr-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 101:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tom Clegg
Studio
Distributor
Time Life Starring Sean Bean
Daragh O'Malley
John Tams
Jason Salkey
Emily Mortimer
Patrick Fierry
James Purefoy
Stephen Moore
Hugh Ross
Michael Cochrane
John Kavanagh
Vernon Dobtcheff
Diana Perez
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Dominic Muldowney
John Tams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.56:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Sharpe's Sword is one of a series of made for TV films based upon the character created by Bernard Cornwell. I don't remember reading this Cornwell book so I cannot say how much of the book's plot has been included in the film; my feeling is not a lot. Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) joined the British army as a private and fought in Flanders and India. In a range of adventures, mostly during the wars against Napoleon, Sharpe rises from the ranks to become an officer in Wellington's army.

     Spain 1813. The English army of Lord Wellington has chased the French forces back to the border of France. They are assisted by Wellington's master spy, El Mirador, who supplies the English forces with accurate, up to date intelligence of the French dispositions. Colonel Philip Laroux (Patrick Fierry) of the Imperial Guard is sent by Napoleon to eliminate the spy. Sharpe and the South Essex Regiment are ordered to protect El Mirador even through they don't know his identity. Accompanying the South Essex is a traumatized young girl known only as Lass (Emily Mortimer) Sharpe had rescued and the one armed Lord Spears (James Purefoy).

     When a night attack on a French fort goes horribly wrong Sharpe looses his sword in combat with Laroux and is badly wounded and left for dead. Brought to the hospital of Father Curtis (John Kavanagh) he is not expected to live. But he is watched over by Lass while Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley) makes his own private pact of atonement with Father Curtis and starts to forge a new sword for Sharpe. As events move towards a climax, Sharpe must recover from his wounds, expose the traitor in the English ranks, organise an attack on the French fort and kill Laroux before Laroux can get to El Mirador.

     Sharpe's Sword is quite a different addition to the Sharpe series. It is not primarily an action film, although there are two excellent battle sequences including an impressive set piece assault on the French fort where the tactics of the period are well shown. Instead, Sharpe's Sword is a more personal, intimate film in which a number of the other characters become more developed. For example, Rifleman Harris (Jason Salkey) has a central place in unmasking the traitor while James Purefoy, John Kavanagh and Emily Mortimer are all well rounded characters. Even Sharpe's enemy Laroux is less a music hall villain than Sharpe's opponents in other films of the series. But it is really Daragh O'Malley as Sergeant Harper who is the standout. His forging of the sword for Sharpe is the central motif of the film while his domestic woes with Ramona (Diana Perez) create a number of amusing moments. Indeed, Sharpe's Sword is far more humorous than is usual and some of the humour is very funny indeed. And of course, Sean Bean remains excellent as Sharpe.

     Sharpe's Sword is one of the more intimate, personal films in the series and is perhaps more poignant because of this. We get to see and understand a range of hopes and dilemmas, not just those of the central character. As usual, the sets, uniforms, weapons and drill seem reasonably accurate and realistic and the action is well handled. With a good cast and authentic period detail Sharpe's Sword is a surprisingly moving, thoughtful and entertaining 101 minutes.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Sharpe's Sword is a made for TV movie and is in an aspect ratio of approximately 1:55.1 (14:9). It is not 16x9 enhanced. Throughout, this is a dull looking print with very muted colours although the contrast level is frequently too bright, affecting the skin tones. Clarity and sharpness are not great, blacks are solid but the shadow detail is just adequate and in night scenes it is very difficult to see what is happening. There is also grain, edge enhancement and occasional dirt marks. There is also a blocking error at 52:25 that affects the bottom of the screen. Much of the film was shot outdoors on location in the Portugal which certainly stops this film looking or feeling like a TV show, and the issues noted above are not too distracting to spoil the enjoyment of the film.

There are no subtitle options although burnt subtitles translate some of the French dialogue.

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

Audio

    The only audio option is English Dolby Digital 2.0. It is a reasonable track and stereo encoded so that the surrounds are utilised frequently for music and sound effects including gunfire. Dialogue is clear and there are no lip synchronisation problems. My subwoofer did support some explosions.

The music includes an electronic score by Dominic Muldowney plus some period songs sung by John Tams (Rifleman Hagman). This works nicely and provides good support for the film.

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

Extras

None

R4 vs R1

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

    There is various releases of Sharpe's adventures in Region 1 and 2 including a full box set and various dual episode DVDs. All seem to have similar video and audio; some include minor extras but nothing that would lead one to go beyond Region 4.

Summary

    Sharpe's Sword is one of the more intimate, personal films in the series of made for TV films based upon the character created by Bernard Cornwell. As usual, Sean Bean is believable as Sharpe and he gets good support from Daragh O'Malley as Sergeant Harper. Sharpe's Sword is presented on a DVD with adequate video and reasonable audio, but no extras. Sharpe's Sword is included in a two disc box with Sharpe's Gold and Sharpe's Battle on one disc, Sharpe's Sword on the other.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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