Gladiator (1992)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Gladiator is the kind of boxing movie that goes that extra mile -- a self-loathing boxing saga that relishes in bare-knuckled sucker punches, illegal eye-rubs, and gentlemen boxers who obey the Marquis of Queensbury rules by drop-kicking opponents when the are not only down but unconscious. James Marshall plays Tommy Riley, a Windy City high school student conned into participating in the illegal underground boxing arenas of the South Side of Chicago. In high school, Tommy was a prize boxer, and this skill comes in handy when his Father (John Heard) runs up a large gambling debt. When a sleazy boxing manager (Robert Loggia) spots Tommy defending himself during recess, he offers him quick money to box. Tommy, although he hates the sport, readily agrees, thinking his winnings will help his father pay off his debts. He quickly comes under the thumb of unscrupulous boxing promoter Horn (Brian Dennehy), who is involved in fight-fixing and dirty fighting. Manipulating the odds and exploiting his boxers make Horn rich and more venal. In the rancid environment, Tommy befriends another fighter, Lincoln (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a black fighter who sees fighting as his way out of poverty. Inevitably, Horn arranges for the two friends to duke it out in the ring together.
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Action & Adventure , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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James Marshall
as Tommy Riley
Robert Loggia
as Pappy Jack
Cara Buono
as Dawn
John Heard
as John Riley
Jon Seda
as Romano
Lance Slaughter
as Shortcut
Richar Lexsee
as Father in Park
Tab Baker
as Storm Trooper
Dwain A. Perry
as Storm Trooper
Jean-Paul Griffin
as Black Death
Joan Schwenk
as Secretary
Raul Salinas
as Teen in Classroom
Richard Lexsee
as Father in Park
Marctwaine Nettles-Bey
as Teen in Classroom
Derek Anunciation
as Teen in Classroom
Vonte Sweet
as Tidbits
Antoine Roshell
as Scarface
John Louis Williams
as School Guard
Kevin M. Casey
as Collector
Laura Whyte
as Millie
Mary Flynn
as Teen in Diner
Jill Kiblinger
as Teen in Diner
Mark Phillip Raff
as Teen in Diner
Harve Kolzow
as Timekeeper
Jeon-Paul Griffin
as Black Death
Mik Scriba
as 1st Referee
Michael Glienna
as Black Death Corner Man
Mike A. Burgos
as Odds Board Man
Tony Gios
as Bookie
Johnny Lira
as Bookie
Desi Singh
as Bookie
David Burton
as Bettor
James "Ike" Eichling
as Cop on Take
Debra Sandlund
as Charlene
Blake Dollard
as Heavyweight Fighter
Johnny Bellino
as Dawn's Father
Julian S. Campo
as Bodyguard
Virgil Strauss
as 2nd Referee
John W. Wilson
as 3rd Referee
Franklin Dennis Jones
as Ring Manager
Anthony "Primo" LaCassa
as Romano's Cornerman
Brian O'Shea
as 4th Referee
Patrick Outlaw
as Lincoln's Opponent
Hector Pena
as Tommy's Opponent
Mike Nussbaum
as Doctor
John M. Watson Sr.
as Hospital Patient
Jena Wynn
as Laura Lee
Francesca P. Roberts
as Miss Higgins
John Wilson
as 3rd Referee
Francesca Roberts
as Miss Higgins
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News & Interviews for Gladiator

Critic Reviews for Gladiator

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6)

Marshall makes a promising feature debut; and Herrington, pushing beyond the expected triumph-of-the-underdog clichés, underpins the crowd-pleasing Rocky-style fight action with some unobtrusive social comment and confident visual storytelling.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The mixture may be slightly unexpected, but it still manages to be predictable all the way.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The idea of the Dennehy's illegal boxing arena is a storytelling masterstroke; it explains the small crowds at the same time it permits the boxers to fight dirty.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Let's make things perfectly clear. Gladiator is utter trash masquerading as an action picture with a message.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

The screenplay, contrived to suit the genre, is likewise replete with stock characters.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Gladiator is filmmaking by the numbers, if a particularly glossily executed package

Full Review… | September 2, 2008
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for Gladiator

How did I miss this 1992 gem?! Very impressive performances from Cuba Gooding Jr, James Marshall, and Brian Dennehy. An underrated gem that explores the underground world of professional street boxing. It was well done, and I really enjoyed it! This movie may be among one of the highest quality unknown films that I have come across...

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Tommy Riley (James Marshall) goes to a different school and is immediately bullied around and threatened by several of the school's students. After getting in a street fight, Pappy Jack (Robert Loggia) notices Tommy's strong and fierce punch and invites him to be a boxer. Tommy was formerly a boxing champion before coming to this school and his record is undefeated. This town is full of gangs and violence, and one day Tommy helps a black boxer named Lincoln (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and they then have a good friendship. Tommy is now making good money being a boxer and he has some friends, but something just doesn't seem right. "Gladiator" is an exciting boxing and drama movie. What makes it so great is not only the exciting fights, but the great acting by everybody in the movie, mainly James Marshall, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Tommy's promoter, Jimmy Horn (Brian Dennehy). If you like exciting boxing movies that have a plot or just great movies in general, I recommend getting "Gladiator." NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2000. The most underrated boxing film I know of, even though it's not THAT "Gladiator" film that everyone knows.

Jason Owens
Jason Owens

Super Reviewer

I really liked this film, it was a good film that got better, and in the end failed to make me sad, good ending!

Alexander Wilson
Alexander Wilson

Super Reviewer

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