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The Russian Five

In theaters April 11, 2019

101 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , , ,

Back in the 1980s when the Red Wings sucked and Detroit was feeling lower than the salt mines, new general manager, Jim Devellano, decided to sacrifice draft picks for unlikely players currently embedded in the Russian Army. Over the next 15 years, using defection, bribery, and subterfuge, he crafted the strongest, most feared five-man line in the NHL. Film Obsession was honored to attend the Red Carpet Premiere at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, MI on Friday, March 19, 2019, to speak with the director, the producer, and see some fantastic familiar faces.

Producer Jenny Feterovich was on the project for 3.5 years and remarked on how gratifying it was to bring this story to the big screen. “I’ve done a lot of projects in my life. This is blood, sweat and tears that we’ve put into this. It was a challenging project and it’s a legacy project for us, to be able to leave that legacy behind for Detroit, for the fans, for the Russian Community. I’m Russian myself so it’s a very proud moment for us.”

Darren McCarty (Detroit Red Wings, right wing, 1993-2004, 2007-2009) also joined the festivities, despite having already seen the film three times. “I’m most excited because it’s time to share. As somebody who was in the middle of it, lived in it, they captured every essence of not only love of he fellow man no matter where he was from but the highs and lows of how we went through it together.” When asked if he had any input on the documentary, he proudly told me he was in it and he’d raised the bar from PG to PG-13. “The one thing you’re going to get from me is truth. This is what it’s all about. This is for everybody.”

We asked Joshua Reihl, why the Russian Five? He said, “their story is so incredible, it’s an inspiring moment in history, Red Wings history, hockey history, those guys transformed the City and the team. They helped Detroit become Hockeytown, they transformed the League in puck possession style that’s now played. But for me personally, it’s Vladimir Konstatinov, and his perseverance through his limo accident. The fact that Vlady is able to walk when no one expected he would survive the night.” Joshua reminisced on his own terrifying accident which put him through three surgeries and several years of rehabilitation and was presented with a Konstantinov jersey for Christmas. “It was a reminder to me to have some perspective. Vladimir went through a lot worse and he didn’t give up and he’s still fighting with a smile on his face. I recovered and I went back to film school and I knew I had to tell this story.”

Former players came out to celebrate The Russian Five and see old friends.  John Ogrodnick (Detroit Red Wings, left wing, 1979-1987) was out to see the film for the first time. He returned to Detroit for the 1992-1993 season, his last in the NHL and carpooled with Vlady. Speaking of Konstatinov, “He was one of the most feared defensemen out there, his hits were unbelievable. When you watch these guys, they didn’t play the North American style They always maintained control, dumping the puck in was basically a turnover. For that generation, they made Detroit one of the most dominant teams.”

The well-heeled crowd came out for one more special reason. This premiere was also a fundraiser for former Red Wings defensemen (1991-1997) Vladimir Konstantinov, and a portion of proceeds from that night ticket’s sales, as well as the run of the documentary, are going towards The Vladimir Konstantinov Special Needs Trust to assist with lifestyle needs insurance does not cover.

As for the film, it’s a well-paced, entertaining retrospective on the building of the greatest five-man line the NHL had ever seen. Told through the remembrances of Jim Devellano, the surprisingly exciting history of how Slava Fetisov, Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov, crossed oceans and borders to the NHL, specifically, Detroit. They formed a family and taught their teammates a new aggressive style of hockey fusing Russian tactics and American/Canadian finesse that brought out the rough and tumble spirit that came to define the Red Wings. You’ll feel as if you were there, living the trades, the clandestine meetings, and feeling the alienation of players in a new and frightening world of cameras, excess, and success – as well as the crushing lows of defeat. The Russian Five is engaging and a story that needed to be told to us, as Detroiters and as Red Wings fans. I can’t recommend this movie enough.

The Russian Five opens April 11, 2019.

The Russian Five is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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