Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Mission (TV)


In 1981, Bernard Cornwell wrote a historical fiction novel called Sharpe's Rifles and created a character that became a cult icon. In 1993, Celtic Films bought Sharpe to live on the TV screen.


Sharpe's Mission was written by Eoghan Harris and directed by Tom Clegg. Now, this is an interesting one, as Mission was NOT one of the novels and is an all new and original story. The plot is After a prologue set in 1810, which introduces Major Brand (Mark Strong), a British officer serving with Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean), the plot fast-forwards to present-day 1813, where France is losing the war. Major Sharpe is teamed with Brand, now a Colonel renowned for leading a small band of soldiers operating far behind enemy lines. Wellington (Hugh Fraser) assigns them the task of blowing up a store of gunpowder vital to French General Calvet (Olivier Pierre). To do this, they need the expertise of explosives expert Major Pyecroft (Nigel Betts). Major General Ross (James Laurenson), Wellington's head of military intelligence, decides to go along to evaluate Calvet's intentions.
Meanwhile, a Gypsy family stumbles upon a secret meeting between a French colonel and a masked Colonel Brand, with one of his men. The interrupted plotters pursue and kill the Gypsies, except for a young woman, Zara (Berrin Politi), who manages to hide. Afterwards, she starts to bury her dead parents, only to flee when another masked man appears. However, it turns out to be Pyecroft, whose face was disfigured by a bomb accident. He digs the graves and takes Zara under his protection.
In the British encampment, Zara spots one of her family's horses and her mother's ring in the possession of Brand and his men, confirming Sharpe's suspicions. Brand is luring them into a trap, with the goal of capturing Ross for his knowledge of Wellington's plans.
Forewarned, Sharpe is able to thwart the turncoat. After Sharpe's men capture the fort where the gunpowder is stored, he has Ross convene a court-martial, in which Brand is convicted and sentenced to death. Fearing that Brand's influential friends will be able to overturn the verdict, Sharpe conducts an impromptu execution, pushing the traitor into a deep well. The British blow up the gunpowder and escape, while Brand's men are given the opportunity to redeem themselves by acting as a rearguard to hold off the attacking French forces.
All is not well for Sharpe however. His wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden) is becoming more and more dissatisfied with his career as a soldier. Pyecroft has more luck; he and Zara become engaged.
Sharpe's Mission aired on ITV in 1996. It would be released on VHS that year and later be released on DVD.