A scene from the new hockey documentary “The Last Gladiators,” which screened this week at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Former Bruin Chris Nilan is featured in a new documentary about National Hockey League enforcers that screened this week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Alex Gibney, whose credits include the Eliot Spitzer doc “Client 9,’’ “The Last Gladiators,’’ focuses on the Boston-born bruiser who had a long and bloody tenure with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1980s. Globe film critic Ty Burr says “Gladiators’’ doesn’t celebrate on-ice thuggery so much as explore how it came to be so necessary to the game, and wonder at the often soft-spoken men who turned into berserkers once they hit the ice. Nilan, who struggles throughout the film to voice his many regrets, has had many scrapes off the ice as well, and those are chronicled here. “While they’re tragically moving in their particulars,’’ writes Burr, “they’re also frustratingly familiar in their general outlines to anyone who has seen ‘The Fighter’ and/or more than one episode of ‘Behind the Music.’’’ “The Last Gladiators’’ is actually one of two new movies about hockey hooligans. The other is “Goon,’’ based on the book, “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey,’’ by Hanson police officer Doug Smith and his friend Adam Frattasio.