ⓘ Gladiator (1992 film)

Gladiator (1992 film)

ⓘ Gladiator (1992 film)

Gladiator is a 1992 American sports drama film directed by Rowdy Herrington, and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., James Marshall, Brian Dennehy, and Robert Loggia. The film tells the story of two teenagers trapped in the world of illegal underground boxing. One is fighting to pay off gambling debts accumulated by his father. The second is fighting for the money to get out of the ghetto. While being exploited by a boxing promoter, the two teens become friends.


1. Plot

Tommy Riley and his father have just moved to start a new life. Tommys father has accumulated many gambling debts but has found a new job that requires him to travel extensively, leaving his son alone at home. Tommy also has a hard time fitting in at school, having crossed gang members. He takes a job at a local diner and enters into a romantic relationship with Dawn, the daughter of the owner, but is jumped by the gang members outside the restaurant. Seeing how well Tommy is able to fight, a local boxing promoter by the name of Pappy Jack offers Tommy a chance to fight in an illegal underground boxing operation. When two men arrive announcing that Tommys father owes a large sum of money to pay off gambling debts, Jack convinces his boss, boxing promoter Jimmy Horn to buy out the debt, which forces Tommy to pay off his fathers debts by boxing.

Tommy enjoys a great deal of success and develops a friendship with Romano and Abraham "Lincoln" Haines, two fellow fighters. However, he continues to be harassed by gang members, and discovers that two of them, "Black Death" and "Short Cut" are boxers who fight dirty, using elbows, kicks, knees, and low blows, and counting on the crooked refs to overlook the clear violations. Tommy defeats Black Death in the ring, but Short Cut hides a fluid in his gloves, which he uses to blind Romano during a match. Unable to defend himself, Romano is brutally beaten in the ring and is declared brain dead by the doctors. Short Cut later tries the same trick on Tommy, but Tommy has learned to fight dirty, and defeats Short Cut.

Meanwhile, Lincoln shows signs of possible brain damage and is told to quit fighting for at least 60 days or else suffer permanent brain damage. Despite this, Horn arranges a match between Lincoln and Tommy. Afraid of killing Lincoln, Tommy takes a beating until the two are unwilling to continue the match. In revenge, Horn, a former boxer who retired undefeated, punches Lincoln severely enough to knock him out of the ring.

Furious, Tommy challenges Horn to a match. If Horn wins, Tommy will continue to work for him indefinitely, but if Tommy wins, his fathers debt is wiped clean. Horn accepts on the condition that they fight bare-knuckle. Horns vast experience with boxing initially gives him the upper hand, and Horns confidence influences him to play with and humiliate Tommy as a result. Tommy eventually uses the various forms of advice he has received throughout his brief boxing experience to outthink Horn: he fakes a broken hand to give Horn even more confidence, and then uses the element of surprise to defeat Horn, freeing himself from Horns contract.


2. Cast

  • Jesus Rivera as Spectator uncredited
  • John Heard as John Riley
  • T. E. Russell as Spits
  • Benny Urquidez as Spectator uncredited
  • Ossie Davis as Noah
  • Robert Loggia as Pappy Jack
  • Brian Dennehy as Jimmy Horn
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. as Abraham Lincoln Haines
  • Cara Buono as Dawn
  • Al Hoffman as body double for Mr. Brian Dennehy uncredited.
  • James Marshall as Tommy Riley
  • Jon Seda as Romano Essadro

3. Reception

Gladiator was critically panned. On film aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 31% rating, with an average score of 4.4/10, based on reviews from 13 critics.


4. Soundtrack

A soundtrack containing a blend of hip hop and rock music was released on February 25, 1992 by Columbia Records It failed to make it to the Billboard charts, but Warrants cover of "We Will Rock You" was a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #83. The soundtrack also contained the last appearance by the rap group, 3rd Bass. Jerry Goldsmiths unused score was released by Intrada Records in 2013, but none of Brad Fiedels retained score appears on the 1992 album.

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