Slap Shot/B+,B+
Universal/1977/123m/ANA 1.85
     Perhaps the most raucous and profane sports movie ever made, Slap Shot was ahead of its time when it was released in 1977. The foul language and violent nature of the humor turned off audiences and critics. Viewed today, much of the film is hilarious, especially the on ice madness. Slap Shot is far from a perfect game, but the team that put it together plays the game with reckless abandon, never looking for the safe way toward the goal. Maybe itís time to get back on the Ice with player coach Reggie Dunlop and the Charlestown Chiefs.
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Newman skating and brawling at his best. ©Universal

     Deep in Blue Collar Pennsylvania a steel mill is about to close its doors. Their lowly hockey team toiling at the bottom of the Federal League faces a similar fate since itís certain that the weak attendance will suffer a fatal body check with the townís new unemployment. When player/coach Reggie Dunlop and his teammates understand the implication an even deeper depression takes hold of the hapless Chiefs. Born of desperation, the wily veteran Dunlop revives team hopes by planting a news story about the possible purchase of the team by a Florida entity deep in retirement country. To bait the purchase hook, Dunlop realizes the team has got to turn its performance around. He succeeds by turning the team into a group a bad-mouthed battling brawlers on the ice. Slick skating is replaced by below the belt checking and a trio of new heroes is born between the blue lines. In the meantime, the teamís general manager is scouting the league for a new job, players are trying hard to hold onto their wives, and Reggie Dunlop is in for a rude awakening when he discovers the identity of the team owner.
     Paul Newman plays Reggie Dunlop with amazing assurance. Newman does most of his own skating and his hockey playing as a Cleveland kid serves him well. This is Newman at his cynical best. Michael Ontkean, a former college hockey layer is a better skating presence that as a screen force. Struther Martin, wily as ever, makes the most of his screen moments as team general manager Joe McGrath. Great banter between Newman and Martin highlight the back-story and even hint at an entertaining history.
      Slap Shot looks refreshingly new in this anamorphic DVD version. Bright colors contrast against the white ice. Focus is beautifully controlled over the many ice rushing sequences. There is very little grain in the transfer. The Dolby 2-channel mono creates the allusion of the hockey arena and body checks are delivered with bass impact.






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