The Gladiator – 1986 – A trip back to nostalgia land
This is yet another movie that I saw several years ago. You know when the VHS rental stores still existed. I don’t think I saw it immediately when it came out, I guess a couple of years later. I remember thinking the cover was awesome and that the movie really didn’t live up to my expectations. In other words, I remember it as a pretty lame movie. But the title was cool – The Gladiator – and this was several years before Ridley Scott would have a massive success with his film.
There’s no comparison to be made between the two films though. They share a title and that’s it. Abel Ferrera, who among other films also made the infamous Driller Killer, tells a really tragic story. It’s almost kind of dystopic. The main character in the film, can’t remember his name of course, have a great interest in cars. He has also taken upon himself to raise his younger brother. I would say that he’s done a pretty good job at that. The younger brother keeps nagging him about how he wants to drive and one day they’re out driving with the younger brother at the helm.
Maybe he’s not as mature as he would need to be behind the wheel and runs a stops sign or something. Doesn’t matter what it was but he seems to upset a fellow driver who sets after them and eventually pushes them off the road. This is the premise of the film. Of course, the older brother takes the blame on himself and go down depression road. At least until one day when he gets the idea to re-build his truck to be able to stop careless and drunk drivers. He adds speakers on the roof and some kind of harpoon to stop the cars with.
Now the main story starts. We just needed some background first which is fine. We need to motivate the character. He then sets his plan in the works and during night times he patrols the streets, stop the cars and calls the police on a police frequency. He becomes a road vigilante.
As with most films regarding vigilantism, there’s two sides to the story. There’s emotion from those who think the vigilante, this Gladiator, is doing the right thing and those that feels that he in fact creates a new danger element to the traffic situation. I’m not sure what I feel. I can’t really decide if he’s doing right or wrong. I guess this is the main core of the movie. The dilemma of this moralization.
It’s indeed a nostalgic trip to watch this film again after all these years although I didn’t like it that much those years ago. It was exciting to see if I changed my mind and could find another depth in it. I guess I understood the moral dilemmas better now since I more or less was after a cool movie those many years ago. Now that I’ve seen it again I can honestly say. This isn’t a cool movie. It might be interesting to see how we think and react when we are struck be a dear one’s demise. But it’s cheap and not very entertaining.