*** out of ****
While much has been written and filmed about the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team, not as much time has been devoted to the Goliath they defeated, the Soviet team. Gabe Polsky’s new documentary Red Army tells the story of the USSR’s legendary hockey squad.
The doc’s main character is Slava Fetisov, a defenseman whose career started shortly before the 1980 Winter Olympics and lasted through the late 1990s, culminating in two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. Fetisov was the first to attempt to play in the NHL without defecting from the Soviet Union. This result in power plays with Fetisov’s tyrannical coach (who was also a KGB agent).
While filmmakers inserting themselves into documentaries has become a tiresome trend, it actually works well here. Polsky leaves in shots where he asks Fetisov (and the other interview subjects) questions, only to have the Russians refuse to follow the direction the filmmaker wants to lead them. The interactions are feisty without being overly confrontational. It gives the movie a rougher feel than most docs.
Overall, Red Army moves quickly and should be very entertaining for sports fans.