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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Sharpe's Sword (Blu-ray) (1995)

Sharpe's Sword (Blu-ray) (1995)

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Released 19-Aug-2020

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trivia-Sharpe Facts
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 101:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Clegg
ViaVision Starring Sean Bean
Daragh O'Malley
John Tams
Jason Salkey
Emily Mortimer
Patrick Fierry
James Purefoy
Stephen Moore
Hugh Ross
Michael Cochrane
John Kavanagh
Vernon Dobtcheff
Diana Perez
Case ?
RPI ? Music Dominic Muldowney
John Tams

Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     1813. The English army have the French in full retreat helped by the intelligence provided by the mysterious El Mirador who is based in Villafranca. Imperial Guardsman Colonel Leroux (Patrick Fierry) is sent by Napoleon to Spain to capture El Mirador and he is not adverse to torturing and killing priests and nuns to get the information he needs to identify the spy. On the Franco-Spanish border Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his Riflemen on patrol with the South Essex capture Leroux. He hides his identity and while Sharpe is suspicious he still hands Leroux over to the one armed Lord Captain Jack Spears (James Purefoy), one of Major Munro’s intelligence officers. Sharpe also discovers a terrified and traumatised young woman who is unable to speak so Sharpe calls her Lass (Emily Mortimer).

     Villafranca is a divided town; the town itself is held by the English while the French hold the nearby fort. Major Munro (Hugh Ross) orders the South Essex to Villafranca to capture the fort and Sharpe to protect El Mirador, although Sharpe is not allowed to know El Mirador’s identify. The South Essex are accompanied on their mission by Jack Spears, whom Sharpe has come to admire, the disguised Leroux and Lass, who refuses to be left behind. At Villafranca Sharpe is dismayed to find that his old enemy Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane), who is as slimy and cowardly as ever, is the cultural attaché; also in Villafranca is the Irish Father Curtis (John Kavanagh) who previously had fought against the English. When the South Essex attack the fort they are repulsed with heavy casualties; Sharpe’s sword is broken and he is badly wounded and left for dead on the battlefield. In the morning Sharpe is found near death and slowly nursed back to health by Lass while Sergeant Harper (Daragh O’Malley) forges a new sword for Sharpe. On his feet again, although hardly in full health, Sharpe must unmask a traitor, discover El Mirador’s true identity, inspire the South Essex to make another attack on the French fort, confront Colonel Leroux and encourage Harper to make an honest woman of Ramona (Diana Perez).

     Sharpe’s Sword is again directed by Tom Clegg. There are a couple of set piece battles as the South Essex assault the French fort that are colourful and exciting with cannons, explosions, smoke, rifle and musket volleys and hand to hand fighting, but Sharpe’s Sword is mostly about intrigue and betrayal, of people not being who they seem to be. There is also a strong vein of humour that runs throughout the film, with Munro’s bagpipe playing and Harper’s problems with Ramona prime examples, but these scenes are offset by scenes of the bloody aftermath of a failed assault, of men dying of wounds in terrible circumstance without proper medical care, scenes which seldom feature in a Sharpe film. While this is a Sharpe film, Sharpe’s Sword also gives plenty of screen time to others; Daragh O’Malley forges a new sword for Sharpe and tries to placate Ramona, Jason Salkey’s Rifleman Harris breaks a hidden code with the help of Voltaire’s Candide, Michael Cochrane’s Simmerson is a slimy as ever, and gets a well-deserved lesson, while Lord Jack Spears is a complex character wonderfully played by James Purefoy, who a decade later made a fabulous Mark Anthony in Rome (2005-2007).

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Transfer Quality


     Sharpe’s Sword is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Sharpe’s Sword was released here on DVD about a decade ago and when I reviewed it here I thought that the print was adequate but that shadow detail left something to be desired. 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 hills of the Ukraine, exteriors of the marching troops, rocky hills and trees are very good. The assault on the fort at the climax with lines of Redcoats marching with fixed bayonets into cannon and musket fire with explosions, billowing smoke and falling bodies shows strong detail while during the night attack earlier the shadow detail is vastly improved and blacks are solid. Colours are natural and vibrant, the bright red coats of the English infantry standing out against the landscape. Close-ups are also fine - Emily Mortimer fine hair and the blood of the wounds of Sharpe and others are strong. Interiors, as is common in the series, are a different matter. In some the flesh tones and detail are fine but in the reverse angle flesh tones can look quite brown and contrast can vary. Grain is controlled, and other than some slight motion blur against vegetation marks are artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Subtitles also translate some, but not all, sections of the French dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     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 mostly for music and some minor ambient sounds. The action sequences are another matter with cannon fire and explosions, rifle and musket volleys and shots, impacts, the thud of hand to hand combat, shouts and yells. 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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Sharpe Facts

     Two silent text screens with information about the heavy cavalry sword carried by Sharpe, the Rifleman’s green uniforms and shakos.

Gallery (1:24)

     Photos with music and text that are a summary of this episode.

R4 vs R1

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 Sword in various collections, some of which list 1080p video and lossless 2.0 audio, plus a US Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Sword together with Sharpe’s Battle. Other collections are similar to our release Sharpe: The Classic Collection, which includes 14 movie length adventures on seven Blu-rays. Sharpe’s Sword here shares a Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Battle.


     Sharpe’s Sword is another very strong entry into the Sharpe series. There is action, intrigue, mystery, betrayal and humour, a traumatised young woman, the return of an old enemy, more screen time for Sergeant Harper and Rifleman Harris and a great turn from James Purefoy.

     The video, although 1080i, is an 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.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, September 18, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE