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RED ARMY (review)

red_armyRED ARMY
Written and Directed by Gabe Polsky

Starring Slava Fetisov, Vladislav Tertiak, Scotty Bowman and Vladimir Pozner

Often, sports-focused documentaries only appeal to fans of the game. If sports aren’t your thing, and they aren’t really mine, these docs can be deadly to sit through. The best of the best sports documentaries can entertain anyone though, sports fan or not, and that is exactly what Gabe Polsky’s wildly entertaining film RED ARMY does.

The film opens with retired Soviet hockey player, Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov, sitting in a chair and talking on his phone. Polsky attempts to get his attention, but Fetisov simply lifts a finger to silence him. As Fetisov continues to ignore Polsky, a list of his many accomplishments come up on the screen. Anyone who wasn’t previously aware of Fetisov’s fame, will quickly realize that he is one of the most important hockey players of all time.

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Guided by Fetisov’s narration, the film traces the history of professional hockey in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. From the public’s point-of-view, the Red Army hockey team worked together carefully, skating gracefully as if in a dance. Things were different behind the scenes though, as Fetisov describes the extreme training the team was put through. From strict rules put into place by Stalin himself, to their insanely tough coach Viktor Tikhonov (who unsurprisingly refused to be interviewed for the film), the Red Army team didn’t have it easy.

At its forefront, the film appears to be an ordinary sports documentary, but it is far more entertaining that any sports doc to hit the big screen in years. At times, the film progresses with the mood of an espionage thriller; an interview with a retired KGB agent doesn’t help to slow this feeling down either.

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RED ARMY is enthralling, stylishly directed, and at times very funny. It is perhaps one of the greatest hockey documentaries ever made, and one even the least sports inclined viewer must see.

4 sheep

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