Spain 1812. After Ciudad Rodrigo, Teresa tells Sharpe that they have a baby daughter. In Badajoz, the next siege target. Meanwhile, a new commander has taken over the South Essex, along ...
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Spain 1812. After Ciudad Rodrigo, Teresa tells Sharpe that they have a baby daughter. In Badajoz, the next siege target. Meanwhile, a new commander has taken over the South Essex, along with the murderous Sgt. Obadiah Hakeswill, an old enemy of Sharpe's from India days. But a new commander means a captain trying to turn the Rifles into red-jackets, and Sharpe's only hope to command his company again is the Forlorn one.Written by
Sharpe's Company is arguably the best episode in the Sharpe series of movies and one of the few that can truly stand on their own regardless of whether you've seen the previous chapters or not. It achieves this largely because it ticks every box required to make a great Sharpe movie. Dastardly villains? Check. Dashing heroism? Check. Women in peril? Check. One almighty ruck at the ending in which hundreds of people die senselessly? Oh hell you'd better believe there's a check there.
The story this time takes place not long after our hero captures the French Eagle at Talavera, a gap of several years in the books but mere months this time around. The English army are on the march and preparing for a full scale invasion of Spain, but before they can expand out of Portugal, they have to capture two French fortress cities on the border: Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. Rodrigo is taken within the first five minutes and the rest of the running time largely concentrates on the siege of Badajoz with all the trials and tribulations the lads must endure before storming a breach in the walls for the pre-requisite big fight. And Sharpe is especially keen to get inside the city, because his wife Teresa is trapped inside with his eight month old daughter.
From this premise, we get a gripping story of men at war. Cannon batteries rain shot after shot on the walls of Badajoz which slowly crumble over the days, while the soldiers sit around doing little but digging trenches and waiting for death to come. They face French excursions to steal their trenching equipment and boredom and while it does not dwell on the matter too much, there is a sense of frustrating tedium among them as the final assault approaches. Sharpe's desire to be first in the breach meanwhile and be promoted to captain does not get as much focus as it does in the novel and instead, the time between fights is concentrated mostly on his rivalry with Obadiah Hakeswill, the insane Sergeant who once had him flogged. Hakeswill is played by none other than Pete Postlethwaite, deviating from his usual father-figure casting by playing one of the most evil men Sharpe will ever meet. He is beset by facial twitches and has a rather perverse view on war and women, lusting after Teresa and tormenting the men in the ranks unless they let him rape their wives. Sharpe's abuse of Hakeswill could have seen him come across as a bit of a bully were it not for Postlethwaite's terrific performance and you can't help but wish he'd kick him around even more than he does, especially when Hakeswill engineers a situation that leads to Harper (Daragh O'Malley) being flogged.
And then of course, there's Sean Bean. By this point, he was evidently very comfortable playing the title role and it's not surprising the series made him a star in England. He handles the action scenes like a pro but its in the quieter moments when he shines brightest, especially the elation that washes over him when he first learns of his daughter's existence.
But when it comes down to it, what do we all want from the Sharpe series? That's right, battles. Great big ones where the Peninsular is turned into a charnel house filled with corpses and cannon smoke and Sharpe's Company delivers one of the biggest clashes that the South Essex ever gets involved in. With the fortress walls breached, hundreds of English soldiers charge in only to be torn apart by French muskets and cannon fire time and time again until only Sean Bean stands between victory and certain defeat? Can he save the day? Well...it's Sean Bean, what do you expect? In short then, in this humble writer's opinion the best entry in the series. It has everything you'd want from a Sharpe movie, blood, carnage, drama, romance, great big fights and good old Johnny Englishman giving the bally foreigners a damned good thrashing what? Oh and keep your eyes out for Marc "Been in Everything" Warren making a brief appearance as well.
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