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Anna's Army: Behind the Rise of Russian Women's Tennis (2005)

Anna Kournikova , Maria Sharapova , Philip Johnston & Peter Geisler  |  NR |  DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Bud Collins
  • Directors: Philip Johnston & Peter Geisler
  • Format: Color, Full length, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Byzantium Productions, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: August 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 51 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009WO4TC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,269 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Anna Without the Hype -- (Tennis Magazine Online), July 26,2005, Peter Bodo

From Russia With Love: Documentary Tracks Emergence Of Russian Stars From Anna to Maria. -- Sports Illustrated, November 11, 2004, Jon Wertheim

White-Hot Russians -- Maxim, May, 2005, Diane Hill Maxim, May, 2005, Diane Hill

Product Description

Anna's Army explores the current explosion of Russian talent on the women's professional tennis tour. Maria Sharapova shocked the world last summer when she became the first Russian to win Wimbledon at just seventeen years of age. And yet, Maria is just one part of a tidal wave of fiercely competitive and attractive Russians taking over the game. In 2002, only one Russian was ranked among the top 30 women. By 2004, Russians comprised half of the top 10. So why is this cash-strapped, snow-covered nation suddenly producing waves of femme-fatale tennis phenoms?

This enlightening documentary gives you the entire story. It explores the real reasons for the rising onslaught of Russian pros and juniors, and takes you on the long journey from their harsh Soviet origins to their glamorous globe-trotting lifestyles. In the process, the film covers the bizarre and largely unknown history of Russian tennis, the galvanizing impact of Anna Kournikova and Boris Yeltsin and the turbulent events that have molded the top young players in the game.

Anna’s Army boasts rare footage of the players’ matches, training methods, off-court lifestyles and stunning fashion and marketing success. The film also features remarkably candid interviews with Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Nick Bollettieri, Robert Lansdorp and the many rising stars of the Russian babe brigade.

Coverage of the Russian training system shown on this DVD hints that we may be seeing many more Russian players competing in the top ranks for years to come. This DVD is not regionally encoded.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel of a documentary June 28, 2005
This is a jewel of a documentary. It takes you behind the scenes into the world of today's young female Russian tennis stars who are dominating the women's tennis tour in the wake of Anna Kournikova's rise to celebrity stardom. It has amazing footage of the players as children; candid interviews (don't miss Anna's interview) and includes an angle on the history of tennis in Russia. This is a must-see for all sports fans. It is beautifully produced and is hard to take your eyes off.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Excellent! December 22, 2005
OK, I'm not going to lie, I bought this because I happen to think that Russian girls are the hottest thing on the Planet! Russian, Eastern European, Ukraine, whatever...THATS the woman for me. My fellow Comrade Americans would probably call me a sell out Pinko, but I don't care! Beauty does NOT know politics! I only know what I see and it's hardly debatable that Russian girls are HOT! I'll take a Kournikova and a Sharapova over a Britney Spearsva or a Angelina Jolieva any!

So, thats why I originally bought this dvd. But what I actually found is this is an EXCELLENT documentary on why there is such a huge line of talented tennis players coming out of Russia. It also shows life in Russia today...something our media never shows.

Buy it or rent's well worth seeing!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Topnotch documentary on a fascinating subject September 12, 2005
How has Russia, a non-factor in world-class tennis for the sport's first 75 years, suddenly produced four players ranked in the women's top 10 and eight in the top 20 and three Grand Slam singles champions in 2004? This enlightening film answers that fascinating question and is one of the best tennis documentaries I have ever seen.

It does a particularly masterly job of taking you inside the Russian system and showing you what it was like for these young girls to train in the Soviet and post-communist eras. You see, for instance, the leading Russian players training in 1989 with obsolete wooden rackets on dilapidated courts and gain insights from their families and coaches.

The film is full of highly entertaining and colorful quotes from some of the most important figures in Russian tennis. In contrast to many of the superficial pieces seen on television about the "Russian Revolution," Philip Johnston and Peter Geisler went the extra mile to take you inside the Russian system and show you how incredibly small and interconnected the tennis community there is. You learn, for instance, that Anna Kournikova, Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva trained in the same age group from the age of 5 and grew up with Marat Safin, whose mother was one of their coaches.

I particularly enjoyed the attention paid to the historical development of tennis in Russia, from rare footage of Tsar Nicholas II's family playing tennis to vivid contemporary footage of today's leading players and rising juniors. The past is superbly connected to the present by top Russian experts, such as Anna Dmitrieva (the first Soviet player to compete abroad) and Olga Morozova (1974 Wimbledon and French Open finalist), who, until recently, coached Dementieva.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian Revolution July 9, 2005
By Allison
This DVD is sooo cool. These girls have it all -- talent, looks and a fighting spirit. Oh yeah, and a WHOLE LOT of attitude. Girls Rule!! The interviews and film of Anna and Maria are amazing. The part I didn't expect, though, is all the new ones. Everyone knows Kournikova and Sharapova. They were first and made women's tennis popular. But after seeing this film I don't think they will be considered the best or even the most beautiful. This film rocks.
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
How in the world has this documentary remained such a complete unknown to tennis fans, particularly women's tennis fans? Before viewing this DVD I anticipated seeing an OK production that would at least provide me with some nice film sequences of such Russian favorites as Anna Kournikova, Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharpova. However I was soon to discover that this wasn't one of those quickie releases attempting to capitalize on the sex appeal of a few popular Russian lovelies. On the contrary, it's a serious, well conceived and highly informative documentary examining the roots and primary causes for the recent, rapid rise of talented young Russian women tennis players. The documentary examines the following 6 areas:

- Introduction
- History
- Today's Pros as Kids: Spartak
- Yeltsin and The Window to Freedom
- Femme-Fatale Cultural Icons
- The Coming Wave & Education

You can immediately tell in one glance at this table of contents provided on the Main Menu that this isn't going to be just another opportunity to leer at Kournikova in tight shorts. While only 51 minutes in length the viewer will be amazed at how much one will learn by the time the closing credits roll by; the history and evolution of tennis in Russia, the political and social climate that fostered the athletic dreams and hopes of so many young girls and the players ongoing assimilation into the world-at-large outside the Motherland.

Even more amazing to me is the magnificent filming of the subjects and surroundings, the up close intimate, substantive camera work during one-on-one interviews or public appearances by the players offers perspectives and images you'll never see anywhere else.
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