Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 13


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,783
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Gladiator Photos

Movie Info

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.

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James Marshall
as Tommy Riley
Robert Loggia
as Pappy Jack
John Heard
as John Riley
Jon Seda
as Romano
Richar Lexsee
as Father in Park
Tab Baker
as Storm Trooper
Dwain A. Perry
as Storm Trooper
Joan Schwenk
as Secretary
Raul Salinas
as Teen in Classroom
Jean-Paul Griffin
as Black Death
Marctwaine Nettles-Bey
as Teen in Classroom
Derek Anunciation
as Teen in Classroom
Richard Lexsee
as Father in Park
Vonte Sweet
as Tidbits
John Louis Williams
as School Guard
Kevin M. Casey
as Collector
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
Desi Singh
as Bookie
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
Anthony "Primo" LaCassa
as Romano's Cornerman
Brian O'Shea
as 4th Referee
Patrick Outlaw
as Lincoln's Opponent
John Wilson
as 3rd Referee
Hector Pena
as Tommy's Opponent
John M. Watson Sr.
as Hospital Patient
Jena Wynn
as Laura Lee
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News & Interviews for Gladiator

Critic Reviews for Gladiator

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (9)

  • 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.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The mixture may be slightly unexpected, but it still manages to be predictable all the way.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5
  • 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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Let's make things perfectly clear. Gladiator is utter trash masquerading as an action picture with a message.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • The screenplay, contrived to suit the genre, is likewise replete with stock characters.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Gladiator manages to raise a number of social questions in what might have been a simple teen-exploitation boxing film. Chief among the concerns of the film are the relationships between blacks and whites in the inner city.

    Apr 25, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gladiator

  • May 18, 2011
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Sep 08, 2009
    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 O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2009
    Great boxing flick that doesn't seem to make it on the tube that often. If you are a boxing fan then i suggest you have a look at this if you can. Good storyline about a underground boxing circuit and Brian Dennehy does an amazing job as the mean boxing promoter.
    Lee K Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2008
    Not big into boxing but this movie was very enjoyable, good story which was well acted.
    Nikki M Super Reviewer

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