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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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3 nominations. See more awards »


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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 »



Mexico | USA | Spain


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

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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?


Towards the end of the film, General Winfield Scott (Patrick Bergen) is seen somewhat relishing the idea of, and pressing for, the execution of the captured men of the San Patricio's Battalion. In truth, after the Court's Martial of the seventy-two captives, Scott labored to find excuses to lessen the sentences of the convicted men. Of the fifty men sentenced to death, he gave five a full pardon, and reduced the sentence of another fifteen, including John Riley. Executions of sixteen men took place on Sept 10, 1847, in the manner shown in the film, at the exact moment of the fall of Chapultapec. A further four were executed the following day, with the remaining sentences carried out at a later date. See more »


The San Patricio Flag is taken from the hands of a fallen soldier, yet in a close up shot after the battle the flag can be seen under the head and hands of the fallen soldier. See more »

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User Reviews

a movie, an attempt at history...
19 November 2002 | by alhaqqSee all my reviews

It is a movie...so I expect there to be embellishments--in plot, especially, amongst other things. The acting? Well, I am not a movie critic...it was passable, not great, not horrible--most of the acting did seem flat and non-dimentional, however, you are getting just a glimpse of a few (a very few) of the major characters. What I do like overall, is, the fact that someone attempted to make a movie about this era of American History, especially, due to its pivotal role that the Mexican-American War would play in the years following the conclusion.

On the historical facts of the movie, well, it has errors: for example, the Americans seem to "out-number" the Mexican forces--and as we all know the average ratio was between 3:2 and 3:1, in favor of the Mexican Army, in all the battles--which could have made the movie more spectacular--for the "bad" Americans--if they can be called that--something that was latent but not overt. As others have pointed out, it also does have a "Mexican" bias, but this is due to the arrangement of the plot of the movie...concerning the San Patricios Companies of Foreigners. I personally thought the biases of the "named" characters (at least the Americans) were "historically" correct--despite any gaffes in acting. Zachary Taylor (James Gammon) had his "damn the consequences" attitude, and Winfield Scott (Patrick Bergen) was also "true" to the history. The "Anti-Catholic" (not just Anti-Irish) sentiment as portrayed by the junior officers and non-comms in front of the Colonel of the 5th US Infantry Regiment, is also in line with the time.

It is a shame that they could not work in more of the major characters (and a few of the Civil War Generals--in their baptism of fire). We see Scott, Taylor and Harney; It would have been nice to see others like Santa Anna, David Twiggs, William Worth, etc. as well as maybe Jackson as an Artillery Lieutenant moving his guns forward at Churubusco to take on the San Patrico batteries or Grant moving his men of the 4th Infantry forward, or even Lee reconoitering a position. However nice this may have been, it was extraneous to telling the movie-maker's story, and it was not to be.

Not every movie can be a "Gettysburg" calibre movie...but considering the "attention span" of my fellow countrymen (most would not endure a 4 hour movie--let alone the subject matter), this movie trys to be entertaining, as well as, historically "honest". I say, "bravo".

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