Documentary Review: ‘Valiant’ Tells The Story Of The NHL Las Vegas Golden Knights

Review by James Lindorf

In August of 2014, rumors began to swirl that a group of potential owners wanted to bring an NHL team to the city of Las Vegas, home of the slot machine. Given the city’s desert location and come for a weekend of gambling and debauchery tourism plan, most members of the sports media laughed at the idea. At the league owners’ meeting on June 22nd, 2016, the Las Vegas expansion bid was approved by a unanimous vote, thanks to owner Bill Foley collecting deposits on over 13,000 season tickets. With hundreds of things on their to-do list, the management team went about putting the team together form the ground up. After completing every necessary task just days away from the start of the 2017-2028 NHL season and their first home game, the unimaginable happened. On October 1st, 2017, a mass shooting occurred on the Las Vegas Strip, claiming the lives of 58 concert-goers and injuring over 800 more. Director Cruz Angeles brings “Valiant,” his inspiring new documentary chronicling the team’s creation and first year to iTunes, Amazon, and other VOD platforms nationwide this December 13th.

The film reveals how the city’s first professional sports team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, a collection of misfits and castaways from other organizations, helped unite the city in the face of an unspeakable tragedy. Through the most improbable run to the finals in sports history, the team served as a distraction, a sense of local pride, and a way to honor the victims of the Route 91 massacre. With his background, Angeles was the perfect choice as the director. He had experience in the world of sports, having directed one of the highly acclaimed ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries back in 2010. He also has an understanding of how to pay respect to victims and their families with multiple experiences working on true-crime television shows.

Angeles and Editor Malcolm Hearn deserve almost all the credit in making this a great film. They compiled hockey footage and presented it in a way that makes it look like the most exciting sport since the coliseums. I’m someone who has tried watching hockey a time or two and never really got into it, but this documentary made me consider giving the sport a third shot. The interview portions of the film where cut to be humorous, and filled with emotion, leaving no doubt that everyone in the organization is a good person. While that last element may be exaggerated it is impossible to not cheer for these people given everything they are going through. There is a moment at the 33-minute mark that may have been the most moving bit of film I have seen this year. The decision Angeles and Hearn made to hold on that scene builds the tension and the need for tissues with every passing second. “Valiant” is correctly named, expertly crafted and without a doubt, the best sports documentary I have seen this year.

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