1813. Major Sharpe's old enemy, Major Ducos manipulates a beautiful young marquesa into falsely accusing Sharpe of rape. Her husband calls Sharpe out in a duel. But when the husband is ...
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1813. Major Sharpe's old enemy, Major Ducos manipulates a beautiful young marquesa into falsely accusing Sharpe of rape. Her husband calls Sharpe out in a duel. But when the husband is found dead the next morning, Sharpe is arrested and brought before a court martial, and it seems not even Patrick Harper and the Chosen Men can save Sharpe from a hanging, or rescue his honour.Written by
Sharpe's Honour for the uninitiated, is the fifth entry in a series of TV movies focusing on an English army rifleman during the Napoleonic wars and based on the books by Bernard Cornwell (which I strongly recommend reading). If you were to start by watching this particular one though, you'd get the impression that Sharpe is not so much a soldier as the very centrifugal force which the rest of the army revolves around. Should that be the case, I'd recommend starting with earlier chapters like Sharpe's Eagle or Sharpe's Company, but this is a worthy choice for a second viewing.
The story this time is all about the espionage side of things. With the French army retreating in disarray from Spain, Major Ducos, the slimy spy master spots an opportunity to turn the situation round. By pinning the murder of a Spanish Marques on Richard Sharpe, hero of the British army, the fragile British/Spanish alliance will start to crumble and things will turn around again. When the Spanish nobles come to Wellington crying for Sharpe's blood though, the English general is less than willing to hang his best soldier so fakes his death and soon, he's off on a secret mission behind enemy lines to find out who masterminded the plot. Surprisingly enough for a Sharpe film as well, there's a gorgeous woman to be rescued along the way, fancy that.
What this results in of course is a more adventure style approach. The concentration is less on the workings of the English military with Sharpe as the figurehead and concentrates more on his escapades in the countryside, dodging French patrols, hob nobbing with the Spanish guerrillas and getting involved in daring escapes from fortified military positions. Sergeant Harper, his loyal right hand man accompanies him naturally but the rest of the riflemen remain in the camp unaware their leader is still alive. Strangely enough though, they actually receive more attention than usual as they wind up in their own subplot involving the delivery of Harper's baby.
This slightly different approach makes for an intriguing episode but is only a good thing in the long run. And should anyone be worried that there won't be the standard battle at the climax fret not, because once again the poor old French get a right kicking. Furthermore, Ducos makes a fantastic successor to Obadiah Hakeswill as the bad guy you love to hate. He is a duplicitous, malicious and absolutely evil son of a female canine and is also strangely reminiscent of that guy in black from out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Elsewhere, Hagman stands out quite prominently as he gets the chance for more screen time and comes across as the sort of man you'd want to deliver your first born, even if he does look like a member of Iron Maiden who got catapulted backwards in time by accident.
In short then, another strong chapter in the Sharpe series. Sharpe remains as heroic as always but considerably more bitter and angry this time given the events in the previous film. It's not the best introduction if you've not seen any of the other chapters but it does show a side to Sharpe that we don't normally get to witness: the action hero rather than the professional soldier. And if that's not enough to get you tempted, it's also worth watching just for the rather surreal sight of an enraged Sean Bean swinging a live chicken at a group of nuns.
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