3 June 2014 8:27 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Russia’s recent return to its adversarial ways may well boost the cultural and commercial profile of “Red Army,” a terrifically engaging flashback to the glory days of the Soviet national ice hockey team, whose enviable performance on the ice was designed to project an image of great socialist strength at the height of the Cold War. Topical resonance, however, is hardly the sole virtue of Gabe Polsky’s moving and incisive documentary, which spins a bittersweet account of the price these world-class athletes paid for fame — and ultimately, for freedom, when many faced major resistance at home after they sought to defect to the National Hockey League. Blending insightful interviews and fine archival footage over the course of a swift, absorbing 85 minutes, the Sony Classics acquisition should skate deftly through theaters en route to a rich smallscreen career.

Black-and-white film clips and expert testimonials establish at the outset that »


- Justin Chang

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