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4.1 out of 5 stars96
4.1 out of 5 stars
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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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on 13 February 2011
Buyers beware - I already own the dvd of Sharpes Challenge but bought the blu ray version to get high quality picture and sound. Both are better but numerous scenes have been cut from the blu ray version making this far shorter (38 minutes to be exact) than the dvd version. as a result the story does not flow and does not make so much sense. I do not know why they made these drastic cuts and until they release a full length blu ray I will stick to my original dvd.
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on 6 July 2007
I love the Bernard Cornwell flagship series following the military career of Richard Sharpe throught he Indian and Peninsular wars. The TV series... while good I can take it or leave it. Sean Bean isn't the Sharpe from the books but he is good in the heroic lead. This one takes him (and us) back to the Indian campaigns but with a slight twist from the novels.
In the novels Sharpe was an ordinary soldier, fairly new in the army and it was set before the Napoleonic wars but under the command of Wellington. In one of the novels he is almost killed in an ambush by a renegade ex British Soldier now working for the enemy. Sharpe survived the ambush and went on to hunt the renegade down. The ambush is here in this as a flashback but now we jump forward to well after the Napoleonic war and Wellington calls Sharpe (now retired) back to India where the renegade is now back to his old tricks again.
This double episode is everything Sharpe has always been, owes a lot to the novels but mixes several into one story, why? Well simply Sean Bean is too old to play the young Sharpe so we have to make it much later in his life. Gung ho action, a bit of love interest (but not much), an agreable bady and lots of explosions with the customary final battle. If you've seen Sharpe you know what to expect, if not, this is a good place to start even though its the last one (so far) to be made. I don't know if any more are going to follow but they have just about run out of books (well almost).
A great way to spend a few hours on a rainy afternoon.
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The war's been over for two years. Up-from-the-ranks retired colonel Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is, more or less happily, making a living as a farmer. And then he's summoned to the Duke of Wellington's home in London. There, the Duke explains, a crisis is arising in India on the frontier between the British and the Mahratta princes. British agents have disappeared. Reports of armed rebellion have surfaced. The Duke wants Sharpe to find out what is happening and, if possible, put a stop to it. Sharpe responds as any experienced ex-soldier would when called back to the colors...he declines. Then he learns the last agent to go missing was his old comrade, Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley). When we next see Sharpe he's making his way through dusty Indian villages towards the encampment of a small British army not far from the fortress of the Rajah of Ferraghur. Happily, he encounters Harper, who had gone undercover in an attempt to gain information. From what we know and have seen, Sharpe's task will be extremely dangerous and fraught with risk. He will meet an enemy worthy of him, an English traitor named William Dodd (Toby Stephens), arrogant, vicious and supremely capable. A deserted lieutenant from the British-led Indian Army, Dodd is now styled a general who is leading the forces of the young Rajah. When Sharpe and Harper pretend to be deserters themselves in order to join the Rajah's army, Sharpe will also encounter the beautiful and deadly Madhuvanthi (Padma Lakshmi), regent and elder sister of the Rajah. The Rajah, the regent and Dodd all approve of the old ways when dealing with traitors, captured soldiers, thieves and other malefactors. They have nails hammered into the skulls of the unfortunate captives.

Don't hit the fast-forward button or you'll regret it. This turns out to be one of Sharpe's best adventures. This also may be Sharpe's most challenging assignment, with the fate of the Empire, as well as the honor and life of a general's daughter, hanging in the balance. At 138 minutes it has plenty of time and a plentiful budget to set up the background and create many scenes with lots of action. There's a big cast of extras. And there's a great battle where hundreds of soldiers scramble to gain entrance to the rajah's fortress through a towering wall.

Sharpe's adventures, based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell, began on television in 1993 with Sharpe's Rifles. The last was Sharpe's Waterloo in 1997. Sean Bean has aged well in the interim. If anything, he looks even tougher. Daragh O'Malley may be a bit heavier but he still looks capable of clearing out a bar on Friday night. From the casts of those old programs we have a brief moment with Hugh Frazier, again playing Wellington. Sharpe also encounters again that pompous, cowardly aristocrat, General Sir Henry Simmerson, still played with lip-smacking relish by Michael Cochrane. Simmerson thinks Sharpe is a jumped-up peasant who needs to be put in his place, and tries hard to do so. I still miss the late Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswell, leering and repellant, who liked to talk into his hat when not trying to shoot Sharpe in the back. He was played with verve by Pete Postlethwaite. His replacement in Sharpe's Challenge, played by Peter-Hugo Daly, is Sergeant Shadrach Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff is a mouth breather, a leering bully, a resentful opportunist, a man who probably last saw a bar of soap when he last brushed his rotting teeth.

The prize for villainy, however, goes to Toby Stephens as Dodd. He's not so much unhinged as he is utterly logical when it comes to protecting his self-interest and justifying his resentments. Plus, of course, killing makes him feel good. He's a man to avoid, especially if he says he likes you. Stephens is a first-rate actor. He can do villains so well I hope he doesn't do too many more of them. He'll find himself typecast. For a much more subtle and complex take on villainy, watch him as Kim Philby in Cambridge Spies.

Sharpe's Challenge is a first-rate rouser. It's a welcome addition to the Sharpe set.

"Though kings and tyrants come and go

A soldier's life is all I know

I'll live to fight another day

Over the hills and far away."
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2006
Am I the only person fed up with reviews which compare the item to some mythical gold standard ?

I agree this may not be the best EVER Sharpe film but it still manages to be better than 95% of TV or Cinema films. At the end of the day thats good enough for me !!

One point though - If the makers expect us to shell out £15 quid it's not too much to ask that they edit the two episodes into one !
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on 25 April 2006
Retired colonel Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is requested by Wellington (Hugh Fraser) to travel to India in order to put a stop to a rebellion there. He is only persuaded, when he hears that his best friend, Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) has disappeared there some time ago. On arrival, Sharpe meets his old nemesis, now General Simmerson (Michael Cochrane). When General Burroughs (commanding officer) daughter is captured by the rebels, Sharpe and Harper must embark on a dangerous mission, where things do not go entirely to plan.

A true 'Sharpe classic', full of all the components that made the original series so good. Nice to see a lot of the old cast members back, and Toby Stephens puts in a great performance as William Dodd (renegade British officer now fighting for the rebels). A bigger budget than previous films means that the battle sequences are even better than before, and the whole film is fast-moving, and tense. Overall, an excellent production.
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on 25 April 2006
Being a huge fan of this series from when it originally aired in the 90's i was majorly excited to see this one.

while watching it on Tv it was hard to see that it has been 8 years since the last one. Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe, just picks up effortlessly where he left off. He is and always will be Sharpe. There is as always the trademark dialogue that makes the character that i grew to love and it still has it 8 years on.

The only thing missing was the rest of the 95th riffles but as it's set after Sharpe's Waterloo its understandable that they're not there.

The battle scenes were big and the costumes as bright as ever all in all it had everything that made the old Sharpe series brilliant. Double crossing traitors, truely evil bad guys and the ever brilliant Sharpe/Harper partnership.

well worth a watch and a valued addition to any Sharpe fan's DVD collection. i will definately buy it to complete mine.
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on 26 May 2006
An acceptable addition to the other titles. Cleverly contrived using the Cornwell books set in India before the Iberian campaign and Waterloo, allowing the film to cash in on the camaraderie between Shapre and Patrick again. An enjoyable story, but not quite up to the high standards set by the originals.

The DVD though seems very rushed - why does it suddenly break and show what is coming in "next time". I bought the DVD to watch it - I don't need teaser trailers half way through, and there seems no way of switching this annoying feature off. Surely 20 minutes more editing could have produced a much slicker programme for those of us that actually felt the urge to part with cash for this?

Overall an adequate addition to the Sharpe series.
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on 27 April 2006
sharpes challenge finally see's the long awaited richard shape back in action.It also see's the return cast sean bean(sharpe) and daragh o'malley(harper). The 3 hour tv film was at its best on itv with great battles and story line. Although it has been 9 years since waterloo the film was as brutal and origional as ever. I would highly recommend this dvd to all shape fans as it wraps up the sharpe films. But who knows there may be another in years to come. I certainly hope so anyway.
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on 17 May 2006
I don't understand how everyone can slate this dvd! I watched the first 14 episodes as a build up to this being shown on tv and it was just as good, if not better, than the originals! Excellent action, charming women and a great story line! What more can you ask for?
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