The Russian Penguins resurrected Moscow’s legendary ‘Red Army’ hockey team in 1993.
This case study of larger-than-life personalities highlights a pivotal historic moment. When Warshaw arrived in Russia, consumer brands hardly meant anything to the country. By the time he left, that had changed completely.
- Thom Powers, Documentary Programmer, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Red Penguins tells a story of capitalism and opportunism run amok - complete with gangsters, strippers and live bears serving beer on a hockey rink in Moscow. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the famed Red Army hockey team formed a joint-venture that showed anything was possible in the new Russia. Eccentric marketing whiz, Steve Warshaw, is sent to Russia and tasked to transform team into the greatest show in Moscow. He takes the viewer on a bizarre journey highlighting a pivotal moment in U.S. Russian relations in a lawless era when oligarchs made their fortunes and multiple murders went unsolved.
A consortium of investors (including Michael J. Fox) deployed Warshaw to be their man in Moscow, and he transformed live hockey from a sleepy event to the hottest ticket in town. – Thom Powers (Documentary Programmer @ TIFF)
Warshaw is central to the documentary, taking us back to the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons in Russia. In the film, Ruta refers to him as the Penguins’ “gunslinger in the Wild West.” It’s an apt description. - Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The consortium duly dispatched Steven Warshaw, marketing guru and irrepressible star of this show, to oversee operations. – Suzi Feay (Financial Times)
The scrappy protagonist of the story is Steven Warshaw, a promotional wunderkind who was selected to be Pittsburgh’s man in Moscow at the time. With a shrewd eye for spectacle, Warshaw turned Moscow’s decrepit hockey arena into a showcase for American advertising.... – Ann Hornaday (The Washington Post)
While Warshaw may not have been a traditional choice to spearhead a venture such as this, his anything-goes attitude turned out to be ideal for 1993 Russia, where rigid communism had given way to chaotic, lawless democracy. - Nick Schager (The Daily Beast)
The irascible Warshaw deserves his own documentary, and he knows it. – Peter Keough (Boston Globe)
Critics Consensus - Sports and politics collide in Red Penguins, a fascinating documentary exploring the stranger-than-fiction story of professional hockey in post-Soviet Russia.
96% - TOMATOMETER | 83% - AUDIENCE SCORE