In the late 1980s, the Detroit Red Wings hockey team was a laughing stock, often called the “Dead Wings.” After a wealthy pizza magnate bought the failing franchise, he appointed an unorthodox General Manager to build a championship team. Throwing off conventional wisdom, the new GM looked to America’s mortal enemy in the Cold War, the Soviet Union itself. Through a plot that sounds like a spy novel, the Red Wings organization brought on one Russian after another, sneaking them out under cover of night and whisking them to the Motor City, only to find that the new players faced another problem: Integration. THE RUSSIAN FIVE follows the stories of the five Russian players that emigrated to America, took root in Detroit, Michigan, and struggled to fit in, all while training day and night to become Stanley Cup champions. The new immigrants had to learn to communicate with their teammates, assimilate into the culture, and become Americans. THE RUSSIAN FIVE is the true story of immigrants that became American heroes, teammates that became family, and a scrappy, resilient city that became Stanley Cup Champions, twice. It’s a story about hopes and dreams becoming reality, and the harsh reality of dreaming big. The names Fedorov, Larionov, Fetisov, Kozlov, and Konstantinov are legend now in the Motor City and their influence is still felt throughout the National Hockey League today. Director Joshua Riehl stops by to talk about the long and winding journey of five gifted athletes who changed the course of North American hockey.
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100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“One of the most dramatic and emotional of sports stories gets the expert film it deserves in “The Russian Five,” a documentary that is moving in ways you won’t see coming.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a story fans already know well, but “The Russian Five” lays it out in a compelling, easily digestible fashion. And it shows how without a major assist from Russia, Detroit would have never become Hockeytown.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News
“I know a good story when I see one and … this new passionately-realized debut feature from director Joshua Riehl got me involved in its sport, its personalities and its man-made mythos.” – Glenn Dunks, The FIlm Experience
“Timely, insightful, well-structured and thoughtful…” – Michael Ward, Should I See It