The consensus seems to be that this is the best of the Sharpe's, and I won't stray from it. There's a healthy mix of action, comedy, tragedy, and slightly better production values (more extras!). On the downside, on a recent viewing I couldn't help but feel that Pete Posthlewaite's amazing portrayal of the odious Obadiah Hakeswill was underutilized here (perhaps they were concerned he would steal the whole show, as he so nearly did in "Sharpe's Company"), and his comeuppance is a bit of a letdown given the evil he has done. But that's all a quibble: on the whole, very entertaining- Bean is great, Sweet William is hilarious, and Liz Hurley is so incredibly beautiful you forget she didn't really know how to act at the time. Huzzah!
A renegade band of deserters, some British, some French are holding two important wives for ransom. It falls to Sharpe to effect their rescue. And of course, he does. But only after the ransom has been redoubled and after our protagonists have had to return to base and make their hazardous journey all over again. Only this time they are prepared for more than a simple exchange. This time they come armed with explosives and troops to back them up. The deserters don‘t stand a chance.
If you’ve been a faithful follower of the Sharpe novels you’ll get to see the directors version of such characters as Sweet William, Ducot (a thoroughly unlikeable rodent), The Rocket Crew; Miss Teresa (Sharpe’s wife --- she dies in this episode); Wellington (too young, too thin); and that ultimate villain, Sergeant Hawkeswill (not short enough, not fat enough, not ugly enough, not sleazy enough) who is finally dispatched for the murder of Theresa, Sharpe’s wife. In spite of what he believes, Hawkeswill can be killed --- although it takes an executioners second shot to finally dispatch him.
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