With the Hockey World Cup being played in India, let’s take a trip down memory lane, watching hockey in films!
The Hockey World Cup has begun in India and Pakistan isn’t part of the teams participating in the mega event for the second time, which is sad considering no team has won the event more times than the green shirts. However, they make their presence felt in films/long plays about the game through the Pak-China collaboration Paiman-e-Wafa that revolved around the game. Since the sport isn’t played in the United States, they have made films on the ice hockey version, which in turn was copied in the summer-loving Bollywood, as Chak De India.
Let’s go down memory lane and revisit some of the memorable films that have revolved around Hockey, and have made fans of the sport and cinemagoers proud.
Director: Madam Xu Huanxi/Manzoor Qureshi
Cast: Asif Raza Mir, Neelma Hasan, Qavi Khan, Sami Ullah Khan
Plot: One of the first two Pak-China collaborations, this long play revolved around the different types of hockey, played in Pakistan and China. Back then China didn’t have a strong field hockey team so they exchanged a Pakistani hockey player (Asif Raza Mir) with a Chinese Ice Hockey player so that both could learn each other’s game. Qavi Khan played the Hockey Coach who was tasked to train the Chinese national while the legendary Flying Horse Sami Ullah Khan made a guest appearance as well. The Chinese actor was dubbed by TV actor Talat Iqbal, while Manzoor Qureshi was one of the co-directors who shot the scenes in Pakistan. The PTV long play also featured sporting action such as the Chinese actor playing Ice Hockey at home and featured a couple of songs as well.
Sudden Death (1995)
Director: Peter Hyams
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Dorian Harewood
Plot: To associate a sports film with JCVD may not be a new thing but to make him save the day as well as his daughter in a sports flick was unthinkable until Sudden Death. Set at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, the film revolved around an assassination attempt on the Vice President of the United States while he was watching the final of the Stanley Cup, the premier ice hockey competition. Since former firefighter Darren McCord (Van Damme) had taken his kids to the match, he was there when the action took place. Add to that his daughter’s kidnapping by the same guys who had held the US VP hostage, and you had a die-hard kind of situation with a man who wouldn’t stop until he got the job done. Even if he had to save a goal to take the match, into the Sudden Death round!
Mystery, Alaska (1999)
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Lolita Davidovich, Ron Eldard, Colm Meaney, Maury Chaykin, Burt Reynolds
Plot: Mystery, Alaska revolves around the sudden emergence of an amateur ice hockey team from a small town named Mystery, and how they dealt with the pressure. It so happened that a newspaper magazine glorified their weekly hockey match so much that the New York Rangers, from the National Hockey League (NHL), decided to pay them a visit. Led by Sherriff John Biebe (Russell Crowe) and featuring characters who play sport for recreation, the town gears up for the challenge in its own way. When their opponents arrive from the big city, they find themselves under pressure at first but later regroup to give the visitors the kind of competition they never expected. Add to that the speech by Judge Walter Burns (Burt Reynolds) that has been done to death around the world and you have a sports drama that you would remember for a long time.
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann, Kenneth Welsh, Eddie Cahill, Patrick O’Brien, Michael Mantenuto, Nathan West
Plot: Based on the United States men’s ice hockey team’s greatest achievement – A gold medal at the Winter Olympics – this film shows how one man’s vision challenged the domination of the Russians and halted their progress in the Winter Olympics. Dubbed Miracle on Ice, the film’s main protagonist was the team’s head coach Herb Brooks (played brilliantly by Kurt Russell) who was part of the scripting process as well as the execution, but sadly passed away before the film’s release. The film showed how Herb Brooks who wasn’t part of the last US side to win the Gold was able to make a winning side from newcomers who came from different backgrounds, played a different kind of hockey and had a different opinion on everything, but the aim to was the same, that is to win the gold medal. Which they did!
Director: Reema Kagti
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh, Vineet K. Singh, Sunny Kaushal, Nikita Dutta
Plot: Gold revolves around India’s first gold medal in field hockey at an international level after independence, in the Summer Olympics of 1948. The main protagonist of the story wasn’t a player but the assistant manager Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar) who was also with them when the team won the event the last time it was held. How the newly-created state managed to do the unthinkable, how the squad was able to come back from losing the main players to the neighboring Pakistan, and why were the players upbeat to win their first event is all shown in this brilliantly made film which was smartly released at the time of the Independence Day.
Note: Chak De India is not on the list because it was a heavily inspired version of Mystery, Alaska, and Miracle; moments like the finale of the match in the former, and the practice session in the latter were shamelessly plagiarized in the SRK vehicle.