The Last Gladiators

Watch The Last Gladiators

"Some fights never end"
  • R
  • 2011
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 7.1  (1,744)
  • 61

The movie "The Last Gladiators" from 2011 is a captivating and emotional documentary that follows the lives of some of the most notorious ice hockey enforcers who have graced the NHL over the years. These enforcers, also known as 'goons,' are players whose main job is to defend their teammates by fighting the opposing team's enforcers on the ice. The film takes its name from the fact that these players were often considered the last of a dying breed, and their role in the game of hockey is becoming increasingly rare and looked down upon.

The documentary is directed and narrated by Alex Gibney, who is known for his thought-provoking and insightful films about a variety of subjects. Gibney uses his unique storytelling style to provide viewers with a closer look at the world of ice hockey enforcers, their background stories, their motivations, and their struggles both on and off the ice. Although the film focuses on players of the past, Gibney also includes interviews with some of today's most famous NHL enforcers, such as George Parros and Chris 'Knuckles' Nilan, to give the documentary a contemporary edge.

The film begins by taking us back in time to the 1970s and 1980s when fighting on the ice was a common occurrence in professional hockey. Gibney introduces us to some of the most famous enforcers of the era, including Chris Nilan, Marty McSorley, and Tony Twist, and uses archival footage of their fights and interviews to convey the violent nature of their role. The documentary then takes us through their careers, showing the emotional toll that being an enforcer can take on a player's mental and physical well-being.

The Last Gladiators also explores the psychological aspect of being an enforcer. The pressure to fight, the fear of injury, and the mental toll of being considered a "thug" are all examined through candid interviews with former and current enforcers. The film also delves into the moral issues associated with the role of enforcers, such as whether or not fighting should be allowed in the game and whether players should be celebrated or vilified for fighting.

One of the most poignant parts of the film is when it focuses on the life of former enforcer Donald Brashear. Brashear was a feared fighter during his time in the NHL, but after his playing days were over, he struggled to adapt to life outside of hockey. He suffered from addiction and was arrested for assault in 2010. The film shows him attempting to turn his life around by coaching young hockey players and working as a volunteer firefighter.

Another former enforcer that the film profiles is the legendary Bob Probert. Probert was one of the most feared enforcers to ever play professional hockey, but his life was plagued by addiction and tragedy. The film shows Probert's rise to fame as a hockey player, his fall from grace due to substance abuse, and how he ultimately died in 2010 at the age of 45 from a heart attack.

The film also features interviews with family members of former enforcers, who speak openly about the impact that their loved ones' role in hockey had on their lives. The wives and children of these players share harrowing stories of their fears for their safety, the struggle to see their husbands and fathers suffer from the physical and mental toll of playing such a violent sport, and the effects that being an enforcer had on their family dynamic.

Overall, "The Last Gladiators" is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged documentary that sheds light on a little-understood aspect of professional hockey. It's a must-watch for any fan of the sport, as well as anyone interested in the human toll of violence in sports. The film is not only an ode to the brave men who were willing to put their bodies on the line for their teammates but also a somber reflection on the darker side of professional sports.

The Last Gladiators
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (1,744)
  • Metascore