Red Army (film)

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Red Army
Red Army poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGabe Polsky
Produced by
Written byGabe Polsky
Music by
Edited by
  • Eli B. Despres
  • Kurt Engfehr
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • May 16, 2014 (2014-05-16) (Cannes)
  • September 9, 2014 (2014-09-09) (TIFF)
  • January 23, 2015 (2015-01-23) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • Russia
  • English
  • Russian
Box office$694,600[2]

Red Army is a 2014 American-Russian documentary film directed, produced, and written by Gabe Polsky, executive produced by Jerry Weintraub and Werner Herzog. It premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival[3] and was released in limited theaters by Sony Pictures Classics on January 23, 2015.[4] The film tells the story of the Soviet Union national ice hockey team through the eyes of team captain Slava Fetisov, in particular the famed 1990s five-man unit known as The Russian Five.

The film details the link between sports and politics. The film also narrates how players were wooed by National Hockey League scouts and eventually flooded NHL rosters. The film is particularly harsh on the ruthless tactics of coach Viktor Tikhonov about whom none of the players have a kind word. Tikhonov died in November 2014.[5]

The movie uses rare archival footage,[6] including children singing "No Coward Plays Hockey", song composed by Aleksandra Pakhmutova in 1968.[7][8]


The film relates the Soviet Union's dominance of ice hockey during the Cold War.[9][10]


Red Army made its North American debut at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in American theaters by Sony Pictures Classics.[11] The film is about the Soviet-Russian game from the 1950s to the dominance of the 1970s and 1980s and then gradual deterioration in the 1990s. The film was screened in the Special Screenings section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[12]

The film was included in the official selections at the 2014 Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals.[13] Red Army won Audience Awards at the 2014 AFI,[14] Chicago[15] and Middleburg film festivals.[16] The film was also selected as the Opening Ceremony film of the 2014 Moscow International Film Festival.[17]


Red Army is one of the best reviewed films of 2014, maintaining a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.9/10 based on 92 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Fun and fascinating, Red Army delivers absorbing documentary drama for hockey fans and sports novices alike."[18] On Metacritic, the film has an 83 out of 100 rating based on 33 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film a "stirring, crazy story—a Russian novel of Tolstoyan sweep and Gogl-esque absurdity".[20] Time magazine said: "this playful, poignant film presents a human story that transcends decades, borders and ideologies".[21] Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen".[22]

The film was nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.[23]


  1. ^ "RED ARMY (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  2. ^ "Red Army (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  3. ^ "Red Army". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  4. ^ "Red Army". Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  5. ^ Chang, Justin (June 3, 2014). "Film Review: 'Red Army'". Variety. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  6. ^ Bekreneva, Alexandra (January 26, 2015). "Documentary about legendary Soviet hockey team to hit American movie theatres". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  7. ^ "Red Army is simply a great story, even without the hockey (IDFA Review)". Cultjer. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "Red Army". Sur La Patinoire. February 8, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  9. ^ Barnes, Henry (May 16, 2014). "Cannes 2014 review: Red Army - the cold war, on ice". The Guardian. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  10. ^ Campbell, Ken (September 2, 2014). "Red Army documentary a compelling and riveting film". The Hockey News. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (April 22, 2014). "Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Russian Hockey Doc 'Red Army'". Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "Spotted at Cannes: Ice to Go With Steam". The New York Times. May 18, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  13. ^ "Red Army screening and discussion". Chicago Council on Global Affairs. March 30, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  14. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan; Thompson, Anne (November 2014). "AFI FEST 2014 Unveils Jury and Audience Awards Winners". IndieWire. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  15. ^ "The audience has spoken" (PDF). Chicago International Film Festival. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Imitation Game, Dior and I, Red Army take top prizes at Middleburg Film Festival" (PDF). Middleburg Film Festival. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "Film catalogue". Moscow International Film Festival. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  18. ^ "Red Army". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  19. ^ "Red Army". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  20. ^ Scott, Anthony Oliver (November 13, 2014). "Just After Lake Placid, Things Improved. 'Red Army,' the Rise and Fall of a Soviet Hockey Dynasty". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  21. ^ Corliss, Mary (November 16, 2014). "Review: Red Army: Much More Than Just a Hockey Doc". Time. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Feinberg, Scott (September 1, 2014). "Telluride: 'Red Army' Joins 'Keep on Keepin' On' at Top of Heap of Best Doc Oscar Contenders". The Hollywood Reporter. Lynne Segall. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  23. ^ Ravindran, Manori (January 7, 2015). "WGA Noms for "Vivian Maier," "Red Army"". Realscreen. Retrieved February 17, 2019.

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