Gladiator

Here's the movie of the month for those who like their escapism big, brutal and brainless. Two fine young actors – James Marshall (Twin Peaks) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boyz n the Hood) – have inexplicably agreed to strike suitable-for-leering poses in their underwear while director Rowdy Herrington (Road House) devises other distractions from the idiotic plot.

Marshall plays Tommy Riley, a white boxing hope who might have had a 90210 ZIP Code in his future if his father's gambling debts hadn't landed him in the clutches of Horn (Brian Dennehy), a Chicago promoter who stages illegal prizefights with street kids. Exploiting racial tensions in the ring is a Horn specialty, so Tommy is soon in mortal combat with his black friend Lincoln (Gooding). Dennehy even strips down to throw a few punches during a bloody climax that leaves the big guy huffing and puffing and all rational thought down for the count.

From The Archives Issue 626: March 19, 1992