A road warrior vigilante avenges his brother's death at the hands of a crazy motorist by using his souped-up pickup to apprehend drunken drivers and others who abuse their driving privileges.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Susan Neville
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Lieutenant Frank Mason
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Joe Barker
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Loretta Simpson
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Dan
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Jeff Benton
Rick Dees ...
Garth Masters
...
Reporter
Harry Beer ...
Franklin
Garry Goodrow ...
Cadillac Drunk
Robert Phalen ...
...
Woman in Class
Mary Baldwin ...
Mary
Thom Bierdz ...
Kid
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Storyline

A homicidal maniac is on the loose, killing motorists at random in his "death car" - after losing his brother to the twisted assassin "Skull", Rick Benten becomes a vigilante, and takes it upon himself to hunt down the reckless drivers that fill the streets at night. Being a master mechanic, Rick spends his time converting his pickup truck into an armed and dangerous vehicle - with speed to take on the fastest car, and strength to make sure in a one-on-one situation, he will be the only survivor. The cops soon find out about the vigilante known only as the "Gladiator" and do all they can to catch him before his citizen's arrests go one step too far - but will they find the Gladiator before the Gladiator finds Skull? When the two finally meet, it's a duel to the death and maybe an end to Rick's career as the vigilante. Written by T Battye

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Heavy Metal Vigilante on a Vendetta! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

3 February 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gladiator  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The five 1969 Dodge Chargers used in this film were actual "General Lee's" from The Dukes of Hazzard (1979), sold by Warner Bros to this production. Out of the five, two survived in the hands of stunt driver George A. Sack Jr. They are now being restored for "Dukes" stunt coordinator Gary Baxley by Smith Bros. Restorations. See more »

Goofs

(at around 41 mins) Rick is driving through and there is a flashing red light for the crosswalk. He's looking for bad drivers but he runs straight through the crosswalk while a person is walking in front of him. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Phil: [finishes a pint of beer] Nick - one more. Come on Nick, just one more?
Nick: You've had enough Phil, it's time to go home.
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Connections

Referenced in A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrara (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"This is an citizen's arrest. Pull over now"!
30 May 2014 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

After making films such as "Driller Killer", "Ms. 45" and "Fear City", we would see film-maker Abel Ferrara direct a straight-to-TV movie "The Gladiator". With this being the case, the limitations are there and I could only think what could have been if he was given full control as the context of the story was right down his alley. Maybe this is what interested him to the project, or those who hired him saw his previous films and would have liked to see him recapture the spirit of those features for his production. Still even with those restraints, "The Gladiator" for most part is an effectively brooding revenge piece shot on the cheap, but filled with some grit and style in the signature touch of Ferrara. The nigh-time sequences pack atmosphere with its neon lighting and Ferrara does a tidy job framing it with its rocking soundtrack. It's "Death Wish" on the motorway.

A maniac in a custom-built car known as "The Skull" is terrorising motorists and after the death of his brother one night, mechanic Rick Benton vows to end it. He converts his pick-up truck into an armed and dangerous machine calling himself "The Gladiator". Every night he goes out on the road searching for "The Skull", but also trying to rid the roads of any reckless drivers, but the police led by Lt. Frank Mason see him as a menace. Also people who constantly call into a radio station seem to be divided on the actions of "The Gladiator".

The smart script attached does seem to have more to say, than being a straight-up action exploitation fare. There it tackles the issue of taking the law into your own hands, how things can get out of out-of- control and while at same time spitting out facts and statistics of the danger of drink driving. It does kind of get heavy handed on the last point, but never does it take away from the film's enjoyment. A laid- back Ken Wahl plays the lead role as the young man haunted by the death of his younger brother and agreeable in the part. You do feel sorry for his character, as he portrays a level-headed and reflective character that slowly goes off the rails. Across from him is very solid support by Nancy Allen, Stan Shaw and Robert Culp as the detective in charge of "The Skull" case. The maniac driver motivation seems to be road rage (accidentally provoked or just waiting to be) and he's never seen, until the final shot where Ferrara pit's the two in a thrilling demolition climax in a junkyard. There are some exciting set-pieces, but the final 10 minutes top it.


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