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One Man's Hero (1999)

"One Man's Hero" tells the little-known story of the "St. Patrick's Battalion" or "San Patricios," a group of mostly Irish, and other immigrants of the Catholic religion, who deserted to ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Riley
Col. Benton Lacy
Corporal Kenneally
Gregg Fitzgerald ...
Paddy Noonan
Don Wycherley ...
Brian Athlone
Cpl. Schultz
Luke Hayden ...
Seamus McDougherty
Daniel Grzbalski
General Winfield Scott
General Zachary Taylor
Captain Gaine
Seamus Fitzgerald


"One Man's Hero" tells the little-known story of the "St. Patrick's Battalion" or "San Patricios," a group of mostly Irish, and other immigrants of the Catholic religion, who deserted to Mexico after encountering religious and ethnic prejudice in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War. The plot centers around the personal story of John Riley, an Irishman who had been a Sergeant in the American Army, who is commissioned as a Captain in the Mexican Army, and commands the battalion, as he leads his men in battle, and struggles with authorities on both sides of the border.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One man's hero is another man's traitor.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »



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Release Date:

8 October 1999 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

A Coragem de um Homem  »


Box Office


$11,350,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$108,567, 26 September 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$229,311, 24 October 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film is rated as unacceptable by the American Humane Society. The filmmakers refused to produce evidence that no animals were harmed during production. The end titles disclaimer that no animals were harmed is not endorsed by the AHA. See more »


General Winfield Scott, commanding general of the American forces, is shown wearing three stars on his epaulets signifying the rank of a Lieutenant General. At the time of the Mexican War (1846-1848) he wore the two stars of a Major General which was the highest rank in the United States Army at the time. He wouldn't wear three stars until 1856 when he was promoted to Lieutenant General, becoming the first American since George Washington to hold that rank. See more »

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User Reviews

Captivating film about a tragic story
10 October 2002 | by See all my reviews

"One Man's Hero" is a beautiful film. Beneath any flaws in style and editing, discussions of touchy subject matter, etc. etc., it presents the incredible true story of a group of Irish immigrants who deserted the US army to fight with Mexico during the Mexican War to become the San Patricios. For an $18 million film and fairly unknown director, it stands the test well and emerges an educational and compelling piece of moviemaking.

Truth be told, there's nothing spectacular about the battle scenes or any groundbreaking aspects, but the collective strength of the cast and the solid script pay homage to these men. The film boasts several brilliant "moments", a sub-plot romance, wonderful performances from supporting cast, a thought provoking subject from the archives of history, and the drama and charismatic profundity of a lost cause and ultimate tragedy. Kudos to great score and utilizing the terrain to the benefit of the film.

Though it's not a blazing Oscar candidate, this is a wonderful, sad, and highly personal film about human beings trying to make the best of an unusual and dangerous situation. It has a layered cultural atmosphere that is refreshing and enlightening, and no doubt you'll end the film with a new appreciation of history and belief in good film.

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