Sharpe's Challenge (DVD)
A year after the battle of Waterloo, dispatches from India warn that a local Maharaja is threatening British interests. Wellington sends Sharpe to investigate on what turns out to be his most dangerous mission to date. The last scout sent, Sharpe's best friend Sergeant Harper -- has gone missing and reports suggests that the real power behind the risings is Colonel Dodd, a malcontent East India Company Officer, and that the Maharaja has gathered into his impregnable fort. Once inside the fort things do not quite go as Sharpe has planned.
If the fearless Richard Sharpe is the Indiana Jones of His Majesty's colonial army, then Sean Bean is the dashing, captivating Harrison Ford of the adventure series--handsome, rugged, and charismatic. Bean, who proves here he's every bit the international action star, brings his righteous determination to this installment of the popular Bernard Cornwell Sharpe series. Set in the early 19th century, when the British Empire has a lot of skirmishes to quell and rebellions to quash, Sharpe's Challenge
brings our hero to remote India, where a renegade British officer has joined forces with a local rajah, wreaking havoc on civilians and His Majesty's troops as well. At the behest of the Duke of Wellington, Sharpe sets off to India on what will prove a wildly unpredictable and dangerous mission, with kidnappings, horrific assassinations (a nail into the top of the skull is a preferred method), and treachery at every turn. The cast, including Toby Stephens as Dodd, Michael Cochrane as the sneering Simmerson, the delightful Irish actor Daragh O'Malley as Sharpe's loyal sidekick, and the lovely Padma Lakshmi as a sultry force to be reckoned with, are uniformly strong. But it's Bean, with his world-weary demeanor and craggily handsome features, who commands this rollicking yarn. The film, shown on British television, was shot on location in glorious, dusty, romantic Rajasthan, India, and the whole effect is equal parts Raiders of the Lost Ark
, Master and Commander
, and the American TV hit House
, with Bean wearing heroism and cynicism quite comfortably, thank you very much. Extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary and some deleted scenes. --A.T. Hurley