BBC Video // 2008 // 138 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 18th, 2010
Still loafing in India, Sharpe finds new ways to get his violence on.
Sean Bean (Patriot Games) dons the rifle and swagger for another round of 19th century shenanigans in the Sharpeverse, and his return trip is much appreciated in these parts.
Not long after the events of Sharpe's Challenge, Richard Sharpe (Bean) and his BFF Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) are preparing to go home, where Sharpe can see his daughter and Harper can see his wife. But just as they're halfway out the door, a high-ranking official asks them if they wouldn't mind escorting a plucky French girl to a fort. Suckers that they are, they agree and not long after, our heroes find themselves ensconced in a full-blown opium war, mass murder, rampant sword-fighting, and landslides.
Ah, the summer of 2006. Nothing was on TV at the time. Luckily, BBC America swooped in to save us from our melancholy with their marathon of Sharpe films. Each week they'd run an episode, feature-length made-for-TV films inspired by the author Bernard Cornwell's popular series of Napoleonic war-themed books. I was immediately hooked.
Richard Sharpe is a badass. Sean Bean is a badass. And when you combine the character and the actor, friend, you've got yourself a big, piping hot bowl of Badass Stew! While some shows were certainly better than others, I had a grand time following Sharpe's adventures. When I heard another installment was about to drop, I was elated.
Thankfully -- and not surprisingly -- my anticipation was rewarded with another great program, a production that seemed less like a TV movie and more like a full-fledged feature experience. Though there aren't any big castle sieges as in Sharpe's Challenge, Sharpe's Peril still manages to bring a hefty dose of action and set-pieces, highlighted by a handful of battles and plenty of sword-fighting and shotgunning.
Anchoring all the tomfoolery are Bean and O'Malley, two guys so intimate with the characters they're portraying, the performances come easy. Sharpe and Harper's chummy relationship is right up there with the gold standard bromance set by Verenus and Pollo from Rome. Like V and P, when they're called to spring into action and kick their enemies in the balls, they can bring the pain.
Holding all this Alpha male coolness together is a storyline featuring many recognizable action-adventure conventions, but it works well. As much as I enjoy the Sharpe films, there is a recognizable formula they tend to follow, and Peril runs the playbook: 1) there's a beautiful girl at risk somewhere, 2) a corrupt bastard within the ranks with a greasy name like "Wormbait," 3) a main villain to square off against who overpowers Sharpe, gets cocky, leading to an erotic encounter with a steel blade, 4) a second-tier villain for Harper to smack around a bit, and 5) lots and lots of people being called "Bastard." It's all here and you should be able to map out where the narrative is going. Still, the colorful characters (including some favorites from previous films), impressive production design, and imposing awesomeness of Sharpe himself earn Peril a hearty recommendation.
BBC's Blu-ray is well-suited for the grandness of the production. The 1.78:1 1080i presentation is clean and attractive, powerfully pushing the rich colors and textures of Sharpe's exotic destinations. The resolution bump is noticeable from frame one, making the visual fidelity a major selling point. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also a winner, pounding with musket fire and blade-to-blade effects when the action appears. Extras: a significantly shorter "movie version" of the film (which I don't recommend), a nifty making-of documentary, and a photo gallery.
Another great Sharpe adventure and a well-executed Blu-ray to do it justice.
Not Guilty. Bastard.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 138 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Broadcast Version
* Photo Gallery