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Red Army Review-Chicago International Film Festival

Red Army, the solo directing film debut from Chicago-bred director Gabe Polsky, is a totally absorbing documentary account of the rise and fall of the world's greatest hockey team, the Soviet "Red Army," which one two Olympic gold medals, one silver and several world championships in the 1970s and 80s. The team seemed invincible, until its defeat at the 1980 Olympics in the David and Goliath "Miracle on Ice,"when a group of amateur American college players defied the odds to beat the highly experience, professionally-trained squad from the Soviet Union. The buildup and the match were dutifully covered by America's most adversarial sports report, Howard Cosell. Footage of his broadcasts are included in the meticulously prepared documentary, which includes personal interviews with the players and coaches, both present and archival and detailed footage of crucial matches and behind the scenes training. Anyone with an interest in probing the all-pervasive influence of sports on society to the extreme should view this film. It is both a warning and a tonic to the cult of sports that equally pervades both U.S. and Soviet society. Running time: 85 minutes.