Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was one of the best to ever play the game of hockey and probably the best French-Canadian to lace up the skates. In a part of Canada where hockey is practically a religion, this film pays tribute to one of their most exalted ice saints and it does so in an inspiring, accurate, honest and humble way.
First off, the movie is only available in French – with English subtitles. This may seem problematic or annoying at the onset, but as the film progresses this only makes one of the main messages more poignant. Richard fought, literally, for French rights. There was a lot of prejudice permeating the National Hockey League and society in that era and Richard was one of the strongest influences in changing this injustice.
He was not a charismatic man in terms of public rhetoric. He led by example – through action. He may not have even wanted this martyr role, but he recognised that he really had no choice. These are powerful messages and the movie does an excellent job emphasising this.
Roy Dupuis plays the role of the Rocket brilliantly. The physical likeness and mannerisms make the watcher believe in the performance. The rest of the cast is excellent, with real NHL hockey players taking on some roles and even Sean Avery playing the part of New York Ranger Bob Dill did a wonderful job portraying a player that certainly wasn’t much off of his real character.
Other hockey players in the film include Ian Laperriere, Vincent Lacavalier, Stephane Quintal and Mike Ricci. Most of these are not just cameo appearances either. Hockey really must be one of the most difficult sports to “act” with the speed and intensity and The Rocket shines at making the scenes on the ice believable.
This movie embodies the persistence, determination, love and prejudice. Those are some weighty subjects to tackle in a film about a hockey player, but when the credits start rolling the viewer will know they were handled wonderfully. Rocket Richard was likely the best goal scorer of all time and it’s only suiting that the film honouring him should score with the fierceness that made its namesake a household name.
Four out of five stars!