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Judge Dredd is a 1995 action film directed by Danny Cannon, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Armand Assante and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Judge Dredd strip in the British comic 2000 AD. Certain elements of the film were altered from the comic series, but it still did not find wide mainstream appeal and as a result, the film was a critical and commercial disappointment.


In a future world where people live in a single city, Mega City, ruled by The Council, crime is dealt with by a special police force, Street Judges, who have the power to act as judge, jury, and, executioner of criminals. Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) goes to the scene of a block war, where two other Judges, Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) and rookie Judge Briscoe, are pinned down. Dredd leads them into the building where the main perpetrators are. After he "pacifies" one room by killing the men in it, Briscoe runs ahead against orders to clear the next and is killed. Dredd summarily executes the rest. He also arrests Herman Ferguson (Rob Schneider), a hacker just released from jail who was caught in the conflict.

A psychopathic killer and former Judge, Rico (Armand Assante) escapes from prison and goes to retrieve his former Judge's uniform, "lawgiver" gun. He kills the man holding this equipment, and salvages a decommissioned combat killing robot. Dredd's commander and mentor, Chief Judge Fargo (Max von Sydow), assigns him to teach a class in ethics at the academy where he tells the recruits that they must be prepared to live in isolation until they take the Long Walk, a time when a retired Judge leaves the city and goes into the "cursed earth" to take the "law to the lawless", those who live outside the city.

A news reporter (Mitch Ryan) who has been heavily critical of Dredd and the Council is then murdered. Dredd is arrested for murder, and asks Hershey to defend him. A tribunal is ordered, during which a video is played showing the murder where the killer is seen wearing a judge's uniform and the reporter calling out Dredd's name. Hershey successfully gets the video thrown out, but the prosecutor then shows that the bullet came from a Lawgiver 2, a gun whose ammunition is encoded with the DNA of its user. The bullet matches Dredd's DNA. Dredd continues to maintain his innocence.

To avoid the media learning about Fargo's involvement in something called the "Janus" project, the existence of Rico, and to save Dredd's life, Fargo agrees to step down as Chief Justice and take the long walk. Dredd is sentenced to life. Going through Dredd's locker, Hershey finds a picture of Dredd with Rico, and a family photo. Judge Griffin (Jürgen Prochnow) becomes the new Chief Justice and it is revealed that he is the one who freed Rico and had the reporter killed. He has Rico begin creating "chaos" to try to force the council to reactivate Janus.

Dredd is sentenced to the Aspen Penal Colony, along with the hacker Ferguson. The transport plane is shot down by a family of Cursed Earth hunters, the Angel family. Dredd and Ferguson are taken by the hunters, while the surviving pilot is killed by the Judges coming to check on it, on Griffin's orders. Dredd escapes his bonds, but the Judges find them there. They kill the Angel family, but Dredd kills them when they come after him. Fargo appears and saves Dredd from the last Judge, but is then fatally wounded by the final surviving Angel, Mean Machine Angel (Christopher Adamson). Then Dredd kills Mean Machine by electrocution with a broken cable by sticking it into him.

Meanwhile Hershey tries to learn the identity of the man in the picture with Dredd, but her access rights are terminated. She has a cadet analyze the pictures, and he discovers the family photo is a fake. As Fargo lays dying, he tells Dredd about the Janus project - an experiment to make a perfect judge by taking DNA from the council, enhancing it, and using it to create two clones: Dredd and Rico. Both were given fake memories of families that didn't exist, and later became best friends in the academy. Rico broke the law and Dredd judged him. He was supposed to have been executed, but they realize Rico must have been the one to kill the reporter, which would explain the DNA matching. Fargo also realizes Griffin must have been behind it all and begs Dredd to stop them.

Rico assassinates 108 judges within the span of two days using bombs and his robot. Griffin uses this to get the Council to unlock the Janus files, but they refuse to reactivate the program so he has Rico kill them. Dredd and Ferguson, having made their way back into the city and the headquarters, go to the council room at the sound of the shots. Rico escapes and Griffin claims Dredd killed them, sending judges after them. After shaking off the pursuers, the pair go to Hershey's home to find the place ripped apart. She finds them there and is initially unsure of and disillusioned with Dredd, believing at first that he's responsible for murders, but he tells her everything about the Janus project. The trio head to the Statue of Libertymarker, having deduced it is where the Janus computer is located.

Rico replaces the original DNA for the clones with his own and has the robot torture and kill Griffin when he tries to stop him. Outside the lab, the robot captures Hershey and shoots Ferguson. Rico emerges from the room and orders Dredd to surrender or he will have the robot kill Hershey. Dredd is taken inside where Rico shows off his clones and tries to convince Dredd to join him as his brother. Dredd refuses and Rico calls in the robot, first telling it to kill Hershey, then stopping it to order it to kill Dredd. Ferguson jumps on it and manages to rip out its wires to destroy it. Rico orders the clones to be hatched, but they are incomplete and unable to do anything.

Dredd chases Rico to the top of the statue and after an ensuing fight, throws him off the building, killing him. Hershey, in turn, saves him from Ilsa Hayden (Joan Chen), the scientist who was helping Rico. When they emerge from the building, they learn that Central, the city's controlling computer, has broadcast information about everything that happened, clearing Dredd's name. The remaining judges ask him to become the new Chief Justice in the reconstituted council, but he declines, saying he is a street judge. He puts on his uniform, kisses Hershey, and smiles before going back to work as the crowd of remaining Judges and citizens cheer.



The film made US$113.5 million worldwide, although it superseded its budget, it was considered a box office disappointment.

Stallone's view of the film

Thirteen years after the release of Judge Dredd, Sylvester Stallone discussed his feelings about the movie in an issue of Uncut magazine:


Film composer David Arnold was originally set to score the film, having collaborated with director Danny Cannon on his previous film, The Young Americans. Eventually, Arnold was replaced by film composing veteran Jerry Goldsmith, but as post-production dates fell further and further behind, Goldsmith was forced to drop out of the project as well, due to prior commitments to score other films (First Knight and Congo). In the end, Alan Silvestri was selected as the new composer and would go on to score the final film.

The opening theme for the film, "Dredd Song" was written and performed by the English alternative rock band The Cure. The song appears on disc three of their 2004 rarities box set Join the Dots: B-Sides & Rarities 1978–2001 .

The song "Judge Yr'self" by the Manic Street Preachers was originally going to be on the soundtrack. Their guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared in early 1995, and since the song was the last written with him in the band, it never made it to the final soundtrack listing. The song was not released until 2003.

New film

Rebellion and 2000 AD have announced that a new movie is in the works, working with DNA Films.

Concept art has been released, it was created by Jock who has worked on numerous Judge Dredd stories.

Further reading

  • The Making of Judge Dredd (by Jane Killick, David Chute and, Charles M. Lippincott, 192 pages, Hyperion Books, 1995, ISBN 0786881062)
  • Knowing Audiences: "Judge Dredd" - Its Friends, Fan and Foes (by Martin Barker and Kate Brooks, 256 pages, University of Luton Press, 1998, ISBN 1860205496)


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