"His name is Hakeswill...Obediah Hakeswill....he had me flogged once...had
Sergant Harper flogged......not so long ago he tried to rape my wife....
I swore i's kill him..."
Portugal 1813. Wellington rests his army prior to resuming his ofensive against Napoleon. But in the no-mans land between the two armies, the mountains of Northern Portugal, other forces are still active....
The viewers observe a band of deserters,inclusive of french and British troops, led by Sharpe's nemesis Obadiah Hakeswill and a French renegade named Pot-au-Feu (Tony Haygarth). They take over a Portuguese village. Lady Isabella, the wife of Sir Augustus Farthingdale, and the English military envoy to Portugal, is taken captive. The brigands demand a ransom for her and for another lady taken earlier, Sarah, the spouse of French Colonel Dubreton (François Guétary).
It is Sharpe who delivers the money for Lady Isabella, while Dubreton (the frenchman) does the same for his wife. After a battle between Sharpe and Dubreton (each suspects the other of beinga deserter) they realise they are being played off against each other and that the renegades have been watching and enjoying the skirmish. Afterwards Hakeswill demands double the amount and gives each of them five days to deliver the second installment. When Sharpe returns to camp, Wellington, the British commander, decides that drastic action is required to discourage desertion before it can infect the rest of his army.
Sharpe also reports seeing a Major Ducos (Féodor Atkine), who accompanied Dubreton. This worries Major Nairn, the head of Wellington's military intelligence. He suspects that Ducos, his French counterpart, is scouting the route for a French invasion of Portugal. The village happens to be directly in the most likely path. Sharpe comes up with a risky plan to rescue the women. When Farthingdale objects by quoting regulations that a major must lead a detachment of this size, Wellington presents him with a letter from the Prince Regent, who has followed Sharpe's exploits with admiration, promoting Sharpe to major.
Sharpe then sneaks into the village with Sergeant Harper and his "chosen men" on Christmas Eve, when the enemy is drunk and distracted, and frees the captives. While they wait for Captain William Frederickson to bring up the 60th Rifles, it is revealed that Lady Isabella had been a whore, and at one time Sharpe's lover. The battle goes almost as planned. The deserters are killed or captured, except for Hakeswill, who escapes. He runs into Sharpe's wife Teresa, who had been scouting the approaching French force. Hakeswill kills her, but is then caught by Dubreton, who hands him over to Sharpe.
Ducos delivers an ultimatum, demanding the surrender of the village. Sharpe refuses. When Farthingdale tries to negotiate, Sharpe stops him by threatening to reveal Isabella's past to the Lisbon court. The French attack, outnumbering the British 10 to 1, but Sharpe has set a trap and the French are bloodily repulsed. At the close of the film Hakeswill gets his commupance....a firing squad.
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