Directed by Gabe Polsky
From Oscar and Emmy award winning filmmakers, Red Army highlights the Soviet Union's legendary and enigmatic hockey training culture and world-dominating team through the eyes of the team's Captain Slava Fetisov, following his shift from hockey star and celebrated national hero to political enemy. The film turns a unique lens on the social and cultural transformation of the Soviet Union leading up to the fall of Communism, mirroring the rise and fall of the Red Army team. A film by Gabe Polsky and Executive Producers Werner Herzog and Jerry Weintraub.
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★★★★ review by JC on Letterboxd
This was a pretty fascinating documentary dealing with Russian hockey in the 80s & 90s, told through the lens of Viacheslav Fetisov - defenceman on the Detroit Red Wings (#2) in the mid/late 1990s. As a kid growing up, I just thought he was this sluggish, older guy who wasn't anything special and merely rounded out the "Russian 5" line on the Wings - and I never really gave it much more thought than that. How little I knew!
It was remarkable the chemistry and fluidity the Russians had together in their home country, making such precise and meticulous passes to one another, weaving around the ice. It seemed like they could do it blindfolded and have no problem. At the same time, arguably any group of talented players could do the same thing if they were worked to the bone and stuck to a ridiculous year-round schedule as they were. It was great to see such a different side to Fetisov than anything I've seen and to get into such detail of how he left Russia and basically fled to the US to escape.
Definitely for hockey fans out there, especially Red Wings fans, this is a fun watch and rather informative.
★★★★ review by Raul Marques on Letterboxd
Americans are experts in the art of telling gripping stories out of any sport. This fantastic ability is once used to show the other side, the "bad guys" and produces an enormously efficient narrative, while also glimpsing at the era's fascinating politics. That unconventional perspective lead the film to be particularly interesting, considering other sports movies, because it gets away from the beloved and overdone underdog story, even if it retains their essential magic.
★★★★ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd
As much a film about ice-hockey as Man on Wire is a film about circus performers. The scene is set at the beginning of this doco as archival footage shows Ronald Reagan telling us how wrong the cause of the Soviets is.
The reality is so much more complicated but through the story of the Soviet ice hockey team from the late 70's to the 90's, and particularly its gifted captain Slava Fetisov, what emerges is a story not just of an outstanding team (and there is plenty of footage for ice hockey fans) but of true comradeship - not in its communist terms but in the fraternal bonds of teammates in the light of the strict Soviet regimen and through the emergence of Glasnost. Festisov is a fascinating study - a flawed hero and in interviews now, a cranky but highly intelligent man.
★★★★★ review by Jak-Luke Sharp on Letterboxd
1.85:1 + 4:3
Color + Monochrome
8mm, 35mm + Video + Digital
"I'm not a historian. My feeling was the country tried to change something, because it's Perestroika time, but he doesn't want changes. Everybody was afraid. It's understandable. It's like in a dark room, trying to find a dark cat. It's not funny"
One of the most engaging and interesting documentaries I have ever seen. I'm a sucker for both Hockey and Cold War stories, so this was always going to be immensely enjoyable but if I had one problem, one massive issue it's that the film is simply not long enough! If this was a 6 hour miniseries I'd watch every second of it. The interviews of the larger and life characters and the horrifying stories they tell with such passion and honesty is brilliant, especially Fetisov who you can never tell what he thinks or feels, truly but his interactions with director Gabe Polsky are one of the most touching and hilarious relationships I've seen.
★★★★½ review by Joel Lake on Letterboxd
The compelling true story of the Russian hockey team during the Cold War and the events surrounding the "Russian Five's" defect to the US to play in the NHL and the controversy surrounding the events leading up to that decision. As a hockey fan, this documentary was captivating and immersed me into the history of something I knew a bit about but not the full story. It's a great story for any audience though and all the interviews felt real and everyone seemed passionate to tell the most complete story they could. The balance between interviews, archived footage and exposition was done very well and the film never had a dull moment.
A good documentary that I won't mind revisiting when it is released on VOD.
On a side note, I had a chance to see Adam Sandler's new film The Cobbler that was only showing in Tampa (about two hours from where I live in Orlando) or see this film(which was showing in Orlando), but felt I shouldn't give Sandler another cent of my hard earned money. I think I made the right choice.
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