box set contains all 14 of the full-length television films based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell. Originally broadcast between 1993 and 97, they follow the adventures of the titular soldier during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars, through Wellington's Peninsular campaign up to and including Waterloo. The programmes represent an outstanding achievement for the small screen, dominated by Sean Bean's central performance as the heroic, troubled outsider who turns out to be a resourceful and loyal leader. Bolstered by a strong supporting cast, particularly Daragh O'Malley as Harper and (in later episodes) Abigail Cruttenden as Jane, Sharpe
is often visually striking, the action tense and gripping. Consistency is maintained by all episodes being directed by Tom Clegg.
On the DVD: Sharpe the complete series is a 14-disc set of all 14 episodes. The sound is full-bodied stereo while the very "sharp" picture has been transferred slightly letterboxed at 14:9. Though looking much better than the original TV transmissions the occasionally cropped framing makes it apparent the films were shot in 16:9 widescreen, so it is regrettable they have not been transferred to DVD in that format. Otherwise these are first-rate releases. --Gary S Dalkin
Sean Bean stars as the maverick British rifleman Richard Sharpe in these feature-length television movies set during the Napoleonic Wars. In 'Sharpe's Rifles' Sharpe is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and sent in search of a missing banker. 'Sharpe's Eagle' has Sharpe attempt to boost morale by capturing a French imperial standard. 'Sharpe's Company' sees our hero getting in touch with his paternal instincts when he discovers that he has a baby daughter. 'Sharpe's Enemy' finds Sharpe attempting to rescue some kidnapped ladies from the loathsome clutches of his old enemy Obadiah Hakeswill. In 'Sharpe's Honour' the brave soldier finds himself ensnared in a tricky situation when he is sentenced to death for the murder of a French nobleman. 'Sharpe's Gold' has Sharpe pit his wits against El Casco, a partisan leader who holds some deserters hostage. 'Sharpe's Battle' finds Sharpe and his loyal band of men helping Lord Keily prepare the ceremonial Royal Irish Company for their first encounter with the enemy. 'Sharpe's Sword' sees a badly-wounded Sharpe nursed back to health by a beautiful girl, who has been struck mute after the brutal slaying of her companions. In 'Sharpe's Regiment' a recruiting mission turns dangerous when Sharpe discovers evidence of sleaze and corruption at the highest levels of the army and becomes the target of an assassination attempt. 'Sharpe's Siege' has our hero marry his sweetheart Jane and then depart immediately for a daring mission in the Pyrenees. 'Sharpe's Mission' finds Jane warming to the attentions of another admirer while Sharpe is away on another long mission. 'Sharpe's Revenge' sees the good soldier struggling to clear his name when he is accused of stealing Napoleon's priceless treasures. In 'Sharpe's Justice' Sharpe returns to England, takes over the running of a militia group in the North of England, and finds himself caught between the people whose cause he relates to, and the corrupt gentry who he is being paid to defend. Finally, 'Sharpe's Waterloo' has our hero curtail his retirement and rejoin the British army ready for the Battle of Waterloo.