Review by Cade
As someone who has only the vaguest knowledge of the rules of hockey and not much interest in the game itself, I was surprised when the documentary Ice Guardians still managed to be a fairly engaging experience. It’s made clear quickly that hockey is an inherently violent sport, and has been this way since the very first game. Much of the film is centered around the fights that break out between players in a hockey rink. Not the individual fights themselves, for there would be far too many to talk about. Fighting isn’t discouraged; and it happens quite frequently. What drives hockey players to participate in fighting? How does it affect them? Why are fans and players alike so drawn to it? All of these questions and more are explored in-depth in Ice Guardians.
One really doesn’t need to know much about hockey to be fascinated by the circumstances surrounding its violence. Ice Guardians does an excellent job of setting its stage because of the player interviews that effectively characterize what initially appears as savagery between muscular, testosterone-driven men, and is gradually revealed to something much more sacred.
The film is separated into several sections which follow a pretty predictable format. Interviewers will discuss a particular topic with mainly retired hockey players, and then will move on. At times this format can feel tedious and benal. Nevertheless, the profound topics this film explores compensate for the repetitivity, exploring ideas and emotions I never would have believed hockey players to be capable of to the extent which they are in their careers.
To conclude, Ice Guardians did a superb job of interviewing different players and providing their unique perspectives on fighting in hockey. They are definitely humanized much more than the usual coverage of a game and other interviews allows. Their passion for their sport is admirable, eternal, and portrayed very well. I’d recommend this to any fan of the sport, as it explores motivations behind what drives players to play hockey and undoubtedly leads to a deeper understanding of hockey holistically.