Sharpe’s Enemy Superior Episode of Series
By Kristin Battestella
Just when you thought I was through talking about the British Napoleonic series Sharpe, I present the fourth episode for review. 1994’s Sharpe’s Enemy continues the superior levels established in the previous telefilms. Revenge, damsels in distress, war politics, and rapacious villainy- Enemy has it all.
When the beautiful young Lady Farthingdale (Elizabeth Hurley, Bedazzled) is abducted by the vile deserter Obadiah Hakeswill (Pete Postlethwaite), her crusty Colonel husband reluctantly sends Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) to the rescue. Sergeant Harper (Daragh O’Malley) and Sharpe’s wife, guerilla leader Teresa Moreno (Assumpta Serna) have misgivings about the rescue and the nearby French. Sharpe gains a new ally in rifleman Captain ‘Sweet William’ Frederickson (Phillip Whitchurch), but French spy Major Ducos (Feodor Atkine) makes life difficult for Sharpe.
We may think of it as stunt casting now, but I don’t think Elizabeth Hurley was as big then as she is now. Naturally, she’s only here for her buxom self, but it’s easy to jump on board with the young wife lusting after Sharpe. Pete Postlethwaite is again delightfully creepy as Hakeswill. He’s slick and twisted, and as much as the gals may think Sharpe dreamy, Hakeswill is probably a more realistic notion of how crusty soldiers really behaved. Assumpta Serna is again wonderful as Teresa Moreno-she is the most developed, confident, and likeable of all the women in the series. And of course, Daragh O’Malley is the ever faithful Harper.Perhaps the storylines in Sharpe’s Enemy work well because they hail from Bernard Cornwell’s novel, but the plot begins after the events of Sharpe’s Company. You don’t have to watch one to understand the other, but Enemy weaves a complete tale when most sequels stretch material too thin. In the scope of the war with Napoleon, Sharpe’s Enemy is small-focusing rather on personal and private battles. Sharpe again has to sit back while foolish and rich gentleman move above him. He must indulge them while dealing with Hakeswill. Sharpe, unfortunately, pays the ultimate price. Major Ducos enters the picture as the vile ear of Napoleon-a not so subtle reminder that this is really supposed to be the English versus the French.
After the excellent action of Sharpe’s Company, there’s not a lot of big battles in Enemy. Small skirmishes with deserters make it tough to tell who’s fighting who. Sharpe’s Enemy, however, showcases another kind of action utilized in the series. He’s quite notorious in the books, but up until now, onscreen Sharpe has been a one woman man. It’s food for thought to see him with another woman at this point in the story. Infidelity is a funny thing, but it’s not meant to be taken so seriously here. Bean fans will probably find Sharpe sexy, and the guys will love Hurley and Serna. Something for everyone.
Yet again the DVD transfer seems a bit off, and as involved as the story is in Sharpe’s Enemy, the film ends a tad abruptly. Unless you read the books, you don’t find out what happens to Lady Farthingdale, and Sharpe’s daughter is never mentioned again. These quibbles aren’t rectified, per se, but at least there’s more fun to be had in Sharpe’s Honour.
Sharpe’s Enemy may be a bit too saucy for younger folks, but the depth and the questions raised may bring one to read the books. There’s enough action, beefcake, cheesecake, and vengeance for any audience to enjoy Sharpe’s Enemy.
Please see the comments below for our review of the Sharpe's Enemy novel.