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Sharpe's Challenge

Sean Bean , Daragh O'Malley , Tom Clegg    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 30.98
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not up to previous "sharpe's" May 29 2013
By les l
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
in the special features they brag about how quickly they made this film,,,,, it shows. it's still good, but not near the quality of the first 5 sets.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars time to hang up the tunic Jan. 23 2007
Format:DVD
Since first seeing Sean Bean in TV reruns in 1999 in the role of Richard Sharpe, the lowly soldier who is given a field commission by Wellington for saving his life, I have been a devoted fan. Subsequently, I bought the whole series on VHS, some of the Sharpe novels & even several volumes of Napier's War in the Peninsula so I could better follow the action and Sharpe's character as he rises through the ranks.

Naturally, I was quite excited when a new episode, Sharpe's Challenge, appeared on DVD. It is based on 3 novels, which chronologically were set before the Peninsular (ie Napoleonic) War but the script has been re-worked so that it is set after the Wars, mainly I guess so that the aging - but still handsome - Sean Bean does not have to play a twenty-year old.

The film has everything going for it - colourful locations in India, battles, skirmishes, elephants, explosions, old friends Patrick Harper & Romona, the Duke of Wellington, beautiful young women, dastardly villains, even Sharpe's old bete noire, the ridiculous Col. Simmerson. I give the producers 3 stars for effort.

And yet -- something is missing. Like so many hit productions, it has become a victim of its own success. It is all spectacle and no heart. I could not get emotionally involved in this film as I had in the earlier Sharpe series. It was - dare I say it - boring.

Nevertheless, the film is a must-have for all Sharpe fans, who I am sure will want to judge for themselves.

For myself, I think it's time Sharpe hung up his tunic, once and for all.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good Sharpe adventure June 24 2007
Format:DVD
This movie fits in perfectly with the rest of the series. It has the same feel and dynamics, and Sharpe and Harper are back together just as we remember them. Fans will enjoy it immensely. The DVD has a very good "behind the scenes" feature.
(PS: The book "Sharpe's Christmas" has a story about Sharpe's life in the time just before this movie's adventure.)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  69 reviews
126 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Back and as Good as Ever!! Aug. 1 2006
By R. Mccollum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you're a Sharpe fan, you won't be disappointed with this newest installment of the television interpretations of Bernard Cornwell's novels. Yes, you're right, this one is a mishmash of the three books (Sharpe's Tiger, Triumph and Fortress) set in India, and Sharpe's age had to be fiddled with to accomodate the always gorgeous Sean Bean, but who really cares? In Challenge, Sharpe is no longer the young Sergeant with the bad attitude and short temper from the books, he is the older, retired officer with the bad attitude and short temper that we learned to love in the 90's on the telly. Same deal, right? We aren't arguing with anything that brings either Sharpe or Sean back to our televisions.

Challenge has the usual entertaining Sharpe storyline of beautiful heroine in distress, incompetent and untrustworthy British officers (including the always deliciously evil Simmerson, (Michael Cochrone) back for a reprise and Major Dodd, a sneering Toby Stephens at his evil best), faithful Sgt. Harper, exotic locations and lots of shooting and killing. Plus elephants, always a great addition to any story and not used enough in this film, and a conniving evil Indian Queen. Short cameos by Wellington and Ramona (Harper's wife) are a nice touch.

Assaults (military and romantic), mystery, treachery, bravery and, as always, instructions on how to load and fire three rounds in a minute. Great fun all around.

Okay, maybe Sean has aged a little, but he still fills out the green jacket (and pants) JUST FINE. And, of course, any gratitutous shirtless scenes only add to the enjoyment!

Sharpe's Challenge is just as much fun as any of the others in the series, better than some, definitely had more money to spend. Grab your rifle and fall in!
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Challenge Sept. 25 2006
By Colleen Whalen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I wish some consumer reviews would quit harping and nitpicking how this episode does not exactly follow the plot of the book. This film is a compilation of three of Bernard Cramwell's novels. In the time frame of three hours it is impossible to include every one of his plot twists and turns. It is a given that some details will be deleted, and for the purpose of adapting the book to film medium some new plot conventions would be added. Rarely does a film identically match a novel and transferring a book to film creates the necessity for some artistic license.

The "Sharpe" series should be accepted as pure entertainment, not a detailed history lesson, so just accept the plot with some suspension of belief and not quibble about strict historical interpretation. "Sharpe's Challenge" is very loosely based on events which happened in India during British Colonialism and all the characters are fictitious. If the viewer accepts this, you'll definitely enjoy this swashbuckling episode. Lots of heroic deeds of derring do, acts of transformation, romance, political intrigue...there is plenty of swordfighting and minimal amounts of gore, blood and guts. The violence is not gratuitious, which suits me just fine, because I don't like violent action pictures. The movie is character driven, plot driven, with a strong narrative and literary script.This film is a work of art.

Nine years has passed since Sean Bean starred in "Sharpe's Waterloo" and, of course, he is older than prior episodes. Some consumer critics were irritated that Sean Bean doesn't have the teenage looks which the original novel places him in India. Again, they need to "get over it". Sean Bean was 47 when this film was made, and still has plenty of rugged sex appeal. I respect him, because he is one of the few actors in Hollywood that hasn't been pumped full of Botox, nothing has been nipped, tucked, lifted. It's a pleasant experience to see a handsome middle aged actor with absolutely NO plastic surgery! Clearly, this is an actor comfortable underneath his own skin.

Sean Bean is a world class actor, classically trained at the British Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and he always gives a masterful performance in all episodes of the 15 "Richard Sharpe" series - he "owns" the role and I can't envision any other actor giving the same credibility to the character. When the first "Sharpe" series was shot in the

mid-1990's, Paul McGann was initially cast in the role, but bowed out at the last minute due to an injury. Sean Bean was awarded the role as an incredible fluke of good luck and frankly, I couldn't be more delighted! This was the role that made him a star - and the "Sharpe" series is a classic that holds up over time.

The production values, cinematography, art direction are very strong, and the period costumes are gorgeous. A very fine ensemble cast of character actors all give wonderful performances. Toby Stephens as the turncoat rogue British officer who switches sides is deliciously evil as "the man you love to hate". Darragh O'Malley as Sgt. Harper gives another wry, sardonic performance as Sharpe's trusted ally. As ever, Sean Bean is terrific and I loved his performance.

The only real problem I have with this episode are a few TERRIBLE actors. Padma Lakshmi who plays the conniving, sinister courtesan turned Regent ruler is quite beautiful, but frankly cannot act her way out of a paper bag and gives a dishwater-limp performance. This could have been a very juicy role for a skilled actress but she was horridly miscast.

Her bio states she was a model, celebrity chef and the wife of Salaman Rushdie. She was miscast, and I think she got this part based on her social connections. It is my understanding this was Padma Lakshmi's very FIRST acting role, and well, it shows with a wooden performance. She is an absolute knock-out in the looks dept. - so I just ignored her weak performance, since it was just a supporting role.

The actor who plays Sgt. Bickerstaff is horrible and very hammy. He screams all his lines in full blown manic rage. One very glaring plot hole that was inconsistent is although Sharpe has resigned his military commission and was in retirement, he still had the rank of Colonel while on special assigment in India - so why on earth does he allow Sgt. Bickerstaff to beat him up and threaten his life? It was considered an offense punishible by death to strike a superior officer - so when Sgt. Bickerstaff attacks Richard Sharpe - it doesn't make sense he gets off without being put to death.......but in the "Sharpe" series, its a given there always has to be a nasty villian to create the narrative development - Sharpe needs an adversary to overcome in his inevitable victory.

I've seen all the previous 14 "Sharpe" episodes and by far, this 15th

episode has the biggest budget, largest cast and most sumptuous production values. In the 14th episode "Sharpe's Waterloo" all of Richard Sharpe's cohorts from the Chosen Men are killed off in battle.

I missed all those wonderful character actors who were in most of the prior episodes and played the Chosen Men - however, Wellington and Ramona from the original cast have small cameos, and the brand new characters introduced help round out the cast. Lucy Brown is wonderful as the General's daughter. It is a smaller, supporting role - but she is very good at it. The General's daughter doesn't really fall into the category of a "love interest" for Richard Sharpe, but more along the lines of an unrequieted crush that never is allowed to surface - so I enjoyed the bittersweet ending when Sharpe goes off to France at the end. She and Sharpe bond emotionally, but must hold themselves back because both their lives are in danger and the primary goal is to escape from the Maharaja's fort alive, and in one piece.

The Indian actors who portray the Maharahah Kandhe Rao and his sister give very strong performances. I appreciated the screenwriter emphasizing the oppressive effect of British Colonial imperialism on the people of India. Instead of the stereotypical cliche of "backwards natives" roles the Indian actors are given a literate script and strong dialogue when they explain to British officers they are justified in wanting the British to leave their country and deserve to manage their own affairs.

At first, the British General's daughter and the Indian princess have a combative relationship - but eventually come to respect each other and form an alliance based on their mutual survival. These two women in the film aren't just "window dressing" and maidens in distress - but two women who manage to deal with the political/military machinations they find themselves embroiled in.

This a terrific movie and I know you'll love it! I highly recommend all the other 14 episodes of the Richard Sharpe series. I definitely recommend watching them IN ORDER of sequence - #1 to #14 - there was one "clunker" episode about lost Aztec gold, but on the whole, this series is world class and rollicking fun, a romantic, epic swashbuckler set during the Napoleonic wars in Spain and France.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag - Enjoyable But Not Quite the Real Thing Sept. 8 2006
By Douglas S. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I'm a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, especially the Sharpe series. Sharpe's Fortress about the Siege of Gawilghur is perhaps my favorite Sharpe book. I like the Sean Bean TV movies, but as usual the books are better.

Sharpe's Challenge, two 90-minute movies being shown on BBC America, is loosely based on Sharpe's Fortress. William Dodd is the evil traitor now serving the Maharaja, there is a Hakeswill-like character (Sgt Shadrach Bickerstaff), a fortress is besieged, and beautiful women abound. Sharpe actually turns down the rather unsubtle advances of the scheming and beautiful Madhuvanthi (Padma Lakshmi) and I don't recall Sharpe doing that too often! The events take place some 14 years after Sharpe was last in India in the books and Sharpe is a colonel now.

So, it's a Sharpe story with reasonable verisimiltude for historical details of the era and the setting, but Sharpe's Challenge is not based on an actual specific battle (like the Siege of Gawilghur). It's an entertaining story and quite enjoyable way to pass three hours if you can set aside your quibbles.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Re:The "challenge" apparently involves a time machine, Sept. 10 2006
By Sharpeblade - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
In response the comment made by 'Reader' below that "The fact of the matter is, this is not a historical novel - it's a fantasy concocted about events that didn't happen, during a time when such events were not happening, solely to capitalize on the popularity of Sharpe and Harper. It comes across as the mish-mash it is." It is a mish mash of the first Sharpe novels but it is unfair to say that such events were not happening. This story takes place at the time of the third Mahratta war and there is plenty of action between the British and the Pindari bandits and local rulers. A quick Google search will show that there was a lot going on in India two years after Waterloo.

I personally thoroughly enjoyed Challenge for what it is and hope there will be more. It is quite unique on tv and something to be cherished.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious and successful return Feb. 4 2007
By Mr. Stephen Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Sharpes Challenge sees the return of swashbuckling Sharpe, reluctantly pulled out of retirement as a farmer, to go back to India, and rescue his old friend Harper, and save the British Army from a warmongering Rajah while he is at it.

It's great to see that the story, the production values and the acting are all up at the same levels we became accustomed to. Yes, the story significantly bends the timeline set up by author Bernard Cromwell, and bends history in general, but why quibble about this when the story is so well written and acted? This is boys own stuff, with damsels in distress, camaraderie, and beautiful exotic women trying to seduce our hero, with a few big battle scenes overflowing with extras thrown in for good measure. The characters have aged in the story as well as the actors in real life, such that the gap between this and the last episode makes sense, and the actors being a bit older does not detract from the enjoyment of the movie.

It's every bit as good as we have any right to expect!

The movie is presented in 'as seen' format - so we have it in two episodes, which distractingly means that in the middle of the story you get a 'Next time on Sharpe..' and then a 'Previously on Sharpe', which is annoying, but the disc is still indispensable for any Sharpe fan, or fan of quality TV in general. In fact, the story stands by itself, so that even if you have not seen Sharpe before you could enjoy this.
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