The Last Gladiators - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Gladiators Reviews

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½ January 15, 2017
Alex Gibney, who is on quite the role with some great docs of late most notably the Going Clear Scientology doc that was released two years ago, follows the track here back in 2011 of the always controversial role of the enforcers within the NHL, primarily through the eyes of Chris Nilan who has been out of the game for the better part of two decades, but was one of the prototypical strong guys in the era of the Broad Street bullies and looking up to Bobby Orr as the penultimate tough guys of his era. They do touch on what he was able to achieve fighting for the marquee franchise of the Montreal Canadians as well as a brief stint with the Boston Bruins, but the points of note here is the devastating after affects of his famed career ranging from the physical toll, countless surgeries, unable to secure coaching work with the league to sustain ties with the sport he loves and the psychological effects of the countless fights he suffered through which brought on mental health issues which has become a hot topic issues within the sport causing the role he used to serve take a drastic plunge of importance league wide. A very important doc since obviously concussions are a very serious health issues now dominating the headlines particularly within the NHL and NFL, but would have been cool to acquire a bigger or more current out of the NHL enforcer to help bring things to the forefront to makes things even more urgent (Theo Fleury I believe came out with a competing doc several years later covering similar themes. But otherwise very intriguing.
½ July 24, 2015
Just as advertised- delves into the culture of fighting in the NHL, interviews some of it's principal characters over the years, and focuses in on Nilan's story of going from the poster boy of toughness in the NHL to his decline and struggles after hockey. Slow paced, but gripping at points and keeps audience hopeful of a happy ending for these characters.
July 8, 2015
7/7/15 Netflix

Once again a kudo to the doc genre. A tough movie about tough guys, Chris Niland in particular, in a tough sport. While fans may mourn the drop in hockey fighting this movie sure tells why it is for the best for the athletes who play it.
½ June 18, 2015
A touching story of the hardest role in hockey, as told by a real enforcer, Chris Nilan. Difficult at times, but very interesting and with lots of good hockey footage and a few laughs.
Watched at home on Netflix with Josh, June 18, 2015.
March 28, 2015
Solid documentary for even the non hockey fan.
½ March 4, 2015
A movie for hockey fans. For others it will drag. You need to know something about guys like Probert, O'Reilly, Semeknko, McSorley, Schultz & Kelley, Hunter, Brashear, Nilan and what they had to do to play the game they loved. If those names do not ring a bell (ha!) then the struggles of these men will not resonate. They were enforcers, protectors. "Without McSorly there is no Gretzky", as the movie says.

The movie centers on Chris Nilan - a former player with a harrowing life story. Here was a guy nicknamed "Knuckles" who did everything he was told to make the big time. He fought. He skated. He was a spark plug. He was born, bred and spent every second of his life doing anything he had to do to be a hockey player. Then the game was done with him and he had nowhere to turn. His father, a former green beret, still thinks Chris should be ashamed of himself. It isn't touchy feely in that household or in the league. Not everyone has the problems that Nilan does - but many do. The movie does not even mention concussions. Bob Probert - the toughest of them all - died at age 45. His brain showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Like Junior Seau. And 76 out of 79 former NFL players.

Nilan could also play the game. So could Probert. The pure goon (like Twist) is a species that the NHL is eliminating. Fighting became part of the game back during the original 6 days when officials could only see so much. Someone cheap shots your star - officials don't catch it - you send out the big guy to get medieval on the offender. Now with every game recorded from many angles, the league can aggressively punish dirty players and the suspensions are a bigger deterrent than retaliation ever was. There is a fight every 3 games or so this season. It is a dying breed. Good for the game and its credibility.

Not so good for the guys that gave their bodies and took on all comers to make the NHL. These were hard men. The shedding of blood as entertainment was a staple during the Roman Empire - but it faded away 100 years before its fall. Thankfully it may also fade away in the NHL. Hockey is the real beautiful game. No athlete gives more to win a championship than those in the NHL with its endless, grueling post season.
January 31, 2015
Coming from a Hockey family I have a better understanding for the roles that each player has for their team. The Last Guardian was a solid documentary that looks at the enforcers who played the game and kept their teammates safe.
January 20, 2015
A movie about Chris Nilan. Who would waste their time on such a venture?
January 15, 2015
A must see for any hockey fan, especially those that followed the careers of hockey's finest fighters of the 80's.
½ August 11, 2014
Director Alex Gibney approaches his documentary about the brutish enforcers in the NHL with the same kind of enthusiasm he approaches all of his films with. However, there doesn't seem to be enough substance here to make the film as powerful as some of his others. There are some really good moments here, especially with the primary character, Chris Nilan, and with the wealth of footage that Gibney has at his disposal, the film moves along pretty well. It's only in the last 30 minutes of the film where you begin to feel the pace begin to drag. I'm sure fans of the NHL will find more to enjoy about this film than I did.
May 21, 2014
A doc that examines the joy of the game and how every kid dreaming to be the next Bobby Orr is willing to be the next Raging Bull just to play it.
½ May 9, 2014
Great doc on Chris Nilan and the role of the Enforcer in Ice Hockey
April 30, 2014
If you enjoy hockey this is a good documentary about Chris Nilen and other "Enforcers" on teams who start and finish the fights and their lives after the NHL.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2014
"The Last Gladiators" is a documentary that seeks to explore the careers and lives of various enforcers in the NHL while carefully walking the line between entertainment and expose. Of special interest here is Chris Nilan who played and fought 13 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. While talking to plenty of his friends and family, the movie also interviews some of Nilan's fellow enforcers like Marty McSorley and the late Bob Probert. But the documentary should have also taken the time to talk to Mike Milbury who usually loves the sound of his own voice and could have provided perspective from three different angles.

That speaks to the documentary's central flaw, in that in solely following Nilan around, it is not able to fully explore whether or not his post-career life is typical of former NHL enforcers, not allowing for any new insights in the bargain.(Strangely enough the documentary fails to bring up concussions at all.) For example, sad as it sounds, many retired people sit around all day watching television. And many athletes not named Michael Strahan have a hard time adjusting to regular life after retiring from being a professional athlete. With Nilan, you have a chicken and egg debate in whether he was aggressive to start out or did hockey make him even more so? In any case, I do not think he would have been better off without hockey, as it is nearly impossible to say what his alternate life would have been like.
April 27, 2014
unbelievable look at hockey's best and craziest fighters
April 26, 2014
Loved it. A really good documentary about NHL.......
April 20, 2014
Karu mutta erittäin suositeltava dokumentti (mm. Netflixistä näkee) jääkiekon tappelijoista, heidän roolistaan pelissä ja monen vaikeuksista sopeutua arkeen peliuran jälkeen. Pääosin elokuva kertoo Montrealissa vaikuttaneesta Chris Nilanista mutta haasttattelussa muitakin alanmiehiä. Gibney peilaa hyvin Nilanin tarinan kautta lähes jokaisen tappelijan uraa ja siviilielämän ongelmia. Joidenkin tarina on ollut vieläkin traagisempi kuin Nilanin.
April 17, 2014
Interesting look at the life of an NHL enforcer Chris "Knuckles" Nilan. If you're not into sport documentaries don't bother.
March 26, 2014
A really great documentary on hockey enforcers - following the story of Chris Nilan (mostly). Show's the progression of the game from what it used to be, and what it is today - fortunately and unfortunately, enforcers still exist.
August 24, 2013
Moving, on a way.
And another proof, if needed, that having a big asshole as a father will lead you to be pretty fucked up.
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