Red Army. 2014. USA/Russia. Directed by Gabe Polsky. 76 min.
Red Army tells the fascinating story of the Soviet Union's dominance in ice hockey from 1954 into the early 1990s, when the Soviets used hockey as a means to project their socialist strength to the world, using a tough methodology that gave the players great personal pride—and caused behind-the-scenes strife. Director Polsky, a Yale hockey player born of Russian immigrant parents, tells the story through the passionate and shrewd perspective of Slava Fetisov, an engaging, talented Soviet star who became the youngest-ever captain of the USSR team following their shocking defeat by a team of American college players in the 1980 Olympics. The film is filled with big personalities, great sports stories, and a fascinating inside look at the politics of ice hockey during the Cold War—from the ruthless tactics of Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov to the massive NHL recruitment push that brought many Soviet players to the States but sometimes left them feeling rudderless, caught between Soviet and American playing styles. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.