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DVD Review – Sharpe’s Peril

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Sharpe's Peril is a British TV drama that is based on the character Richard Sharpe from the Bernard Cornwell series of novels. All told, there are over 20 Sharpe novels that cover the time period from 1799 to 1821. Most of them take place during the Peninsular Wars – fought primarily in Spain, Portugal from 1807 through the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 at Waterloo.

I have read at least 10 of the Sharpe novels and so was very eager to view Sharpe's Peril. This video does not specifically cover any of the books, but rather bases the story on a couple of the characters from these stories. This story takes place in 1818 India, a place that Sharpe hadn't been to since early in his career.

Richard Sharpe, like many in the British ranks, chose the army over prison, and had to fight his way for everything he earned. In his day and age, to earn rank you had to buy your commission or do something heroic. Since Sharpe had no money, during his first stint in India he did the latter by saving the life of the Arthur Wellesley, the man who would become the Duke of Wellington.

In Sharpe's Peril Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sharpe and Sergeant Major Patrick Harper – who is prominent in many of the Sharpe novels, are requested to escort Marie-Angelique Bonnet to the hill fort of Kalimgong, where her fiancé, Major Joubert is stationed.

They run into a personnel train heading to Madras which has soldiers from the King's and the East India Companies armies. They are commanded by a very young Ensign and a Major. Included on the train is a prisoner, Barabbas Hakeswill, who Sharpe finds out is the son of Obadiah Hakeswill, the man who murdered his first wife. The train is attacked by a bandit Chitu, and after several are killed, Sharpe finds he must take command to get them to the next garrison.

I found Sharpe's Peril to be highly entertaining and for the most part, fairly true to the books. In the books, Sharpe has a scar on his left cheek that pulls his left eye in such a way as to give his face a mocking expression. I think that I know why that was left out as well as the scars on his back from 2000 lashes he received in India.

Sharpe, played by Sean Bean, is true to his brilliant but wayward self, and not someone you want to anger. I thought Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) would be physically bigger. In the novel when Sharpe and Harper first meet they fight each other before becoming close friends; Harper is described as a mountain of a man.

The story itself is very well put together, as I expected it to be since there is much history to be drawn from in the Sharpe series. The aspect ratio is 16:9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound. There are two disks. The first contains the two part, 140-minute version of the broadcast show. The second contains the 100 minute international version. The extras are "The Making of Sharpe's Peril" and a Photo gallery.

If you like historical fiction, especially set during the Colonial Wars, or if you are a fan of the Richard Sharpe novels, then I really think that Sharpe's Peril is must see entertainment and I highly recommend this video.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.