Sharpe's Honour (Blu-ray) (1994)
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Tom Clegg|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
1813. In Spain the English army commanded by Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) has launched an offensive to drive the French out of Spain. In northern Europe Napoleon has been defeated in Russia and is determined to hold onto Spain. His spymaster Major Ducos (Feodor Atkine) comes up with a plan to break the Spanish / English alliance, thus removing Wellington from Spain, and to take revenge on Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) for the reverse suffered in Sharpe’s Enemy.
Sharpe is still grieving over the death of his wife Teresa in Sharpe’s Enemy while, in contrast, Sergeant Harper’s (Daragh O’Malley) woman Ramona (Diana Perez) is heavily pregnant. Ducos forces Ellen, La Marquesa (Alice Krige), a French spy who is half English, half French and has fled from her Spanish husband, to write a letter to her husband accusing Sharpe of attempting to rape her. The letter is delivered to La Marquesa’s husband by Father Hacha (Nickolas Grace), who is also in French pay, and the husband challenges Sharpe to a duel. Sharpe accepts, but the duel is stopped by Wellington’s spymaster Major Nain (Michael Byrne). However that night the husband is murdered by Father Hacha’s brother El Matarife (Matthew Scurfield), a renegade Spanish Partisan; Sharpe is framed, arrested and tried for the murder he did not commit. If he is found not guilty the Spanish armies will be up in arms and the alliance ended, if guilty he will be hanged and Ducos have his revenge. Either way Ducos will win.
Sharpe is found guilty and a hanging takes place, but it is no spoiler to say that Sharpe does not die (there are still lots of books and movies to come). Orchestrated by Major Nain, Sharpe and Sergeant Harper head behind French lines to try to find La Marquesa and, if possible, bring her back to Nain and clear Sharpe’s honour. Along the way they will face clashes with French soldiers and the Spanish irregulars of El Matarife while La Marquesa turns out to be not quite what Sharpe expected. Meanwhile, back in camp the squad deliver Ramona’s baby! And, somewhere along the line, there must be another confrontation with the duplicitous Major Ducos.
Sharpe’s Honour, again directed by Tom Clegg, is a variation from the films that preceded it in this Sharpe saga. Those all included set piece battles of some sort and while Sharpe’s Honour does have a small section set at the Battle of Vitoria towards the end of the episode it is mostly a more intimate film so the limited number of extras is not an issue. Instead there are the devious machinations of Major Nain and Major Ducos, both equally challenging to Sharpe’s wellbeing, political chicanery, knife fights, small scale skirmishes, a fort to blow up, a rescue or two and another beautiful woman with a checked past. There is time for a romance and more humour as the soldiers, especially Hagman (John Tams) and Harris (Jason Salkey), deliver a baby. It was also snowing when the film was shot in the Ukraine which produces a beautiful, if cold, landscape.
Sharpe’s Honour is another good entry into the Sharpe series. The action is more limited, but the film is interesting and amusing, looks spectacular and gives more time to Daragh O’Malley’s Sergeant Harper, both his relationship with Ramona and his mounting of the rescue when Sharpe is captured. Thank goodness for faithful friends.
Sharpe’s Honour is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
Sharpe’s Company was released here on DVD about a decade ago and was reviewed on this site here. DanielB thought this release looked better than the earlier films in the series although “watchable” was the best he could say for it. The series was shot originally on 16 mm film and a note on the cover of this collection advises that “in mastering Sharpe to HD the original film negatives have been used to ensure the ultimate HD viewing experience. On rare occasions within the series, the original negatives were either not available or in too poor a condition to use--in these instances standard definition content has been up scaled to complete the narrative. This up scaling effects less than 5% of the content.”
The result is pretty good. While some exteriors and interiors do look somewhat hazy, other exteriors can be crystal clear (there are some beautiful snowy landscapes in backgrounds) while close-ups have excellent detail - see Alice Krige’s flowing gold locks. Colours are natural and a vast improvement over the DVD; check out the bright red coats of the English infantry. Skin tones can vary, as does contrast in some sequences. Grain is for the most part controlled, marks were absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Subtitles also translate the sections of non-English dialogue.
Audio choices are English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640 Kbps and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps, so no lossless audio.
Dialogue is clear. There is some activity in the surrounds and rears with shots, carriage wheels, horses’ hooves and music, while the charge at the cannons at the Battle of Vitoria by the Rifles and South Essex features cannon shots, explosions, gunfire, yells and such. The subwoofer added depth to the explosion at the fort, impacts and cannon fire. The music by Dominic Muldowney andJohn Tams used some period tunes and period instruments and was effective.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
Two silent text screens with information about discipline and punishments in the English army at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
On-set photos with music and text showing the filming of this episode in the snows of the Ukraine.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are Blu-ray releases of Sharpe’s Honour in various collections, some of which do list 1080p video and lossless 2.0 audio, plus a US Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Honour together with Sharpe’s Gold. Other collections are similar to our release Sharpe: The Classic Collection, which includes 14 movie length adventures on seven Blu-rays. Sharpe’s Honour here shares a Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Gold.
Sharpe’s Honour is another strong film in the Sharpe series. Sharpe, mired in his grief at the death of Teresa, has to fight for his life and to regain his honour against the machinations of Major Ducos; just as well he has Sergeant Harper as his Irish guardian angel to watch over him.
The video, although 1080i, is a vast improvement over that of the DVD, the audio is still lossy Dolby Digital. Nevertheless, fans of the Sharpe series should be happy with this improved presentation.
Sharpe: The Classic Collection was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|