Sharpe's Battle (Blu-ray) (1995)
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||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. The English army commanded by Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) has almost driven the French army across the Pyrenees back into France, although rear-guards remain. Searching for some lost wagons Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) are his men encounter grey clad French troops of the Wolf Brigade looting a village, killing children and raping women. They capture two soldiers in the act of raping a women; under a flag of truce the French commander Brigadier Guy Loup (Oliver Cotton) enters the village and requests that Sharpe release his men. Instead, sickened by the slaughter, Sharpe orders the men shot and Loup, before leaving, vows to kill Sharpe.
Meanwhile, Wellington has another politically sensitive problem. The King of Spain has sent his ceremonial Irish Household Guard to Wellington’s army. They are untrained and of no value to Wellington but it would insult the Spanish if they were refused or placed on menial duties. So Wellington’s Intelligence Officer Major Munro (Hugh Ross) comes up with a solution; station them in harm’s way nearest the French in a deserted village and order Sharpe to train them hard so that they might desert. Alternatively, the French may attack and kill them. Either way, Wellington can be rid of them, and maybe even Sharpe.
Sharpe is thus presented with a myriad of problems. His liaison officer with the Irish is the glutton Colonel Runciman (Ian McNeice) and the commander of the Irish is the brave, but inexperienced and foolhardy Lord Kiely (Jason Durr). He is accompanied by his spurned wife Lady Kiely (Allie Byrne) but Kiely is carrying on an affair with Spanish Partisan leader Juanita (Siri Neal). And, of course, the closest French are those of Brigadier Loup, who quickly establishes that Sharpe is nearby. Sharpe has to whip the Irish into fighting shape to resist Loup very quickly, but with reports of massacres by English troops in Ireland can the Irish be trusted to fight even if he does train then?
Sharpe’s Battle, again directed by Tom Clegg, is ripper. It is action packed from start to finish with individual sabre fights and numerous skirmishes against the Wolf Brigade, including a night assault on a village, ambushes, a running fight in the woods and a full on battle in and around Loup’s headquarters. Sharpe must try to stay alive but in addition he has to unmask a traitor, train the Irish soldiers with the help of Sergeant Harper (Daragh O’Malley) and his other Riflemen, deal with mutinous troops, save a woman in distress and engage in a bit of marriage counselling! Talk about a renaissance man! Finally, Sharpe and his Riflemen must come to terms with the death of one of their own chosen men.
Sharpe’s Battle is exciting, colourful and action packed, everything a Sharpe film should be.
Sharpe’s Battle is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
Sharpe’s Battle was released here on DVD about a decade ago and when I reviewed it here I thought that the film looked dull, the colours muted and contrast variable. 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.”
Filmed in the Ukraine, exteriors are clean with the rugged hills, forests and stone villages all nicely detailed. Blacks are solid and shadow detail good; the sequence of the night attack by the Wolf Brigade on the village held by the Irish with smoke, explosions and gun fire looks great. Colours are natural and vibrant, the bright red coats of the English infantry standing out against the rocky landscape. In interiors skin tones can vary, as does contrast and brightness, such as in the scenes between Sharpe and Runciman at the inn around 19:48. Grain is controlled, marks were absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.
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. In the non-action scenes the rears were used mainly for music and some ambient sounds, such as the crackle of the camp fire. The action is another matter with cannon fire and explosions, shots, impacts, shouts and horses’ hooves. The subwoofer added depth to the explosions, impacts and cannon fire. The music by Dominic Muldowney and John 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 the English Baker Rifle and Brown Bess Musket.
Photos with music and text that are a summary of the episode.
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 Battle in various collections, some of which list 1080p video and lossless 2.0 audio, plus a US Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Battle together with Sharpe’s Sword. Other collections are similar to our release Sharpe: The Classic Collection, which includes 14 movie length adventures on seven Blu-rays. Sharpe’s Battle here shares a Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Sword.
Sharpe’s Battle is a return to what is best about a Sharpe film; lots of vigorous and varied action sequences, occasional humour, vain English officers, damsels in distress, a dastardly French enemy and the machinations of Wellington’s intelligence officer. Add to these things the sadness of the death of one of the main Riflemen and we get another strong film in the Sharpe series.
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|