A fun, entertaining sports film about a hockey team turned violent to win games and make themselves desirable for a new town. Slap Shot is a film that takes the “bad team turns good” cliché to a weird new place, Paul Newman leads the cast as Reggie Dunlop, the player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs hockey team. The main story of the film are his devious attempts to save his team through violence, deception and morally bankrupt behaviour.
The Charlestown Chiefs suck as a hockey team. They never win a game, have one or two good players, and interest for them are on its last dying legs. Their newest recruits, The Hanson brothers are basically immature children, Dunlop can’t believe how pathetic they have become. With the closure of the local steel mill and the continuing decay of Charlestown on addition to their dire roster and record, Dunlop becomes very concerned about the Chiefs’s future.
The solution isn’t to get new management, train harder, really believe in themselves. Nope, Dunlop’s plan is basically to piss off the other team so much they get distracted so his other players can score goals against the team. It works at first, Charlestown Chiefs win some games but interest is still low and Dunlop is still trying to find ways to save the team. Basically the Charlestown Chiefs become a goon squad, the Hanson brothers being the most aggressive of the bunch. Hockey becomes a fight club on ice, no one’s playing the sport they’re all beating the shit out of each other.
Slap Shot is a great detour of a sports film, you don’t want to root for these people, they are assholes, selfish assholes. They bring disgrace to the game but they also show disgraceful people are in general. The Charlestown Chiefs don’t gain popularity because they win games, they become popular because the Hanson brothers will beat the other team bloody. Dunlop puts out a bounty for his opponent live on the radio and people eat it up, its becomes so popular with the people, that the hockey league management accepts it to stay relevant. Its shows the ugly side to people on all sides, Dunlop comes from a good place: he wants to save his team but in the process he may have destroyed hockey instead.
This film also has one weird ending, I didn’t know what was going on, people were fighting, bleeding, stripping off their clothes and dancing. It was madness and I was so confused but I was having a blast. Goon culture in hockey is one hell of a thing, it’s usually just one guy who picks fights to excite the crowd and scare the other team. With two full teams attacking each other with hockey stick, attacking the crowds, the referees its amazing that it still allowed in the sport. It’s a great film, not the inspiring sports film you may want to show your kids. Show them when their older or when they need to learn how to fight.