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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 »


Lance Hool

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3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Berenger ... John Riley
Joaquim de Almeida ... Cortina
Daniela Romo ... Marta
Mark Moses ... Col. Benton Lacy
Stuart Graham ... Corporal Kenneally
Gregg Fitzgerald Gregg Fitzgerald ... Paddy Noonan
Don Wycherley Don Wycherley ... Brian Athlone
Wolf Muser ... Cpl. Schultz
Luke Hayden Luke Hayden ... Seamus McDougherty
Ilia Volok ... Daniel Grzbalski
Patrick Bergin ... General Winfield Scott
James Gammon ... General Zachary Taylor
Carlos Carrasco ... Dominguez
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Captain Gaine
Dermot Martin ... 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 »



Spain | Mexico | USA


English | Spanish

Release Date:

8 October 1999 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

A Coragem de um Homem See more »


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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »


The type of noose used to hang the men was of 1880s design, intended to break the neck of the prisoner as opposed to strangling them, where a slip-knot was used. Since the execution did not drop them from enough height, the noose would not have worked, even if it had existed. See more »

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User Reviews

"I've always been free colonel."
28 January 2012 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

An epic, slow grinding war story of source accounts with romance, faith and loyalty streaming through. I don't know how true it is to the facts, but you couldn't help but admire its powerful scope and sound performances led by Tom Berenger. Irishman John Riley leads his fellow countrymen who desert to Mexico just before the American-Mexican war after encountering religious and ethnic prejudice in the US cavalry. While holding up in Mexico, war is ignited and the men form the St Patrick's brigade where they become allies with the Mexicans. The story shows how much in common these two sides shared in their viewpoint of freedom, which the Irish men saw when they lived and fought side by side with the Mexicans. They kept fighting on, despite the odds being stacked up against them. The war scenes are dramatically staged with strategic precision and bravery, as it becomes a stirring display of chemistry and spirit between the cast. The characters do provide good insight and form lasting impressions, making the entire ordeal even more effective when they meet their fate. Joaquim de Almeida is perfectly strong willed as a Mexican outlaw and Daniela Roma as the Mexican lady caught in a love triangle.

"One man's hero. Is another man's traitor I reckon sir."

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