"Chosen men are men of honour, men who'll fight any enemy to the death..but
still bury them....they have respect"
1810 - Portugese/Spanish border. After his victory at Talavera Wellington, faced by superior French forces, retreats to Portugal. He waits for the next French move. Richard Sharpe, newly promoted Captain, is sent out on patrol under the command of a certain Major Brand.
At the beginning of the film we see Sharpe and Colonel Brand engaging the enemy years before the setting of th current story. It appears that the French have a hostage in the shape of a British soldier and the heroic Brand storms the Frech contingent and single handedly confronts the Frech captors. However in a strange turn of events the French seemed to know that Brand was coming, and it is Brand himself who shootsand fatally wounds the British soldier. Brand emerges a hero to his British counterparts.
We then move to 1813 - The French are losing the war. Major Sharpe meanwhile is teamed up once again with Colonel Brand, a British officer famous for leading a small band of soldiers operating far behind enemy lines. Wellington assigns them the task of blowing up a store of gunpowder vital to French General Calvet (Olivier Pierre). To do this, they need the expertise of explosives expert Major Pyecroft. Major General Ross, Wellington's head of military intellegence, decides to go along to evaluate Calvet's intentions.
Meanwhile, a Gypsy family stumbles upon a secret meeting between a French colonel and some masked men. The interrupted plotters pursue and kill the Gypsies, except for a young woman, Zara (Berrin Politi), who manages to hide. Afterwards, she starts to bury her dead parents, only to flee when another masked man appears. However, it turns out to be nomadic Pyecroft, whose face was disfigured by a bomb accident. He digs the graves and takes Zara with him to protect her.
In the British encampment, Zara spots one of her family's horses and her mother's ring in the possession of Brand and his men, confirming Sharpe's suspicions. Brand is luring them into a trap, with the goal of capturing Ross for his knowledge of Wellington's plans.
Forewarned, Sharpe is able to thwart the turncoat. After Sharpe's men capture the fort where the gunpowder is stored, he has Ross convene a court martial, in which Brand is convicted and sentenced to death. Fearing that Brand's influential friends will be able to overturn the verdict, Sharpe conducts an impromptu execution, pushing the traitor into a deep well. The British blow up the gunpowder and escape, while Brand's men are given the opportunity to redeem themselves by acting as a rearguard to hold off the attacking French forces.
All is not well for Sharpe however. His wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden) is becoming more and more dissatisfied with his career as a soldier. Pyecroft has more luck; he and Zara become engaged.
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