The American side of the miracle on ice has been told approximately 1 million times. For a refresher, check out the better-than-it-deserves-to-be Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, the man who coached a bunch of college-aged dudes into beating the dirty commie behemoth that was the Soviet Olympic team.
Red Army goes beyond the 1980 Olympics, filling in the gaps before—as when the Soviet Union fired the head coach and replaced him shortly before the Lake Placid games—and after. Much of the documentary revolves around Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov—the legendary defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup winner—and his experience growing up in Communist Russia and playing for the national team.
The story of Soviet-era hockey is fascinating, and there are remembrances from other players, but Fetisov is a commanding presence, at turns happy, morose, angry, and indignant (there are several moments when he challenges director Gabe Polsky on interview questions, and those are the best moments, though they ultimately feel more lighthearted than adversarial).
As compelling as Red Army is, it feels incomplete. Though the documentary features interviews with many of Fetisov’s teammates, they’re given (naturally) less screen time. Plus, the Soviet Union national ice hockey team coach during the 1980 Olympics, Viktor Tikhonov, wouldn’t be interviewed. Still, it’s a solid film.
Directed by Gabe Polsky
With Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov