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46
4.8 out of 5 stars
When We Were Kings [DVD] [1997]
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2003
This is magical stuff. Whether you're a fight fan or not, the way this film is made is beyond compare. Outlining Ali's early rise from Louisville, Kentucky to become heaviweight champion, and then in detail through the build up to the Rumble in the Jungle fight with Foreman in Zaire, this is not merely a story about a boxer. This shows Ali as a political leader, a philosopher, a poet, a bully, a gentle giant, an arrogant kid, a graceful ambassador... all a man can be and more. With input from some of the great journalistic talents of our time - George Plimpton, Norman Mailer - and a soundtrack that is so much more than background music (James Brown amongst others), this is how all films should be made, let alone documentaries.
Inspiring, exciting, and memorable, this film deserved its Oscar, and deserves its place in every collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2007
To say that this documentry is about a boxer in one of his greatest fights is the stranger's view, the uneducated opinion.

Ali wasn't just the best boxer that has ever lived but one of those rare individuals that profoundly effected the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of people. Growing up just after his era, learning about him changed my life and taught me the meaning of courage, self sacrafice, tenacity and so much more.

Loving Ali isn't what makes this documentry great. It is watching his greatest sporting achievement viewed from so many angles, sporting, political, philosophical, pschological, socialogical, historical you name it by some fantastic minds, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton and some facinating characters Don King, James Brown and so on. It's like watching England win the world cup in 1966 and cutting to the views of famous journalists, politicians, music artists of the day saying what they were thinking at that precise moment and seeing behind the scenes footage of the preperation, all set to a killer sound track. Plus the profound effect his career has had on American society and therefore the world, the shockwaves resonating on into today through civil rights, the media, and the power that one man can have.

You may have gathered that I am an Ali fan(!) but if you are not particularly interested in him or boxing, it is a fantastic piece of film making. It is Hollywood in real life, the editting and voiceovers are top draw. I defy anyone to watch the scene where Ali talks about God inspiring to beat Foreman ('Suddenly he looks little in comparison to what I'm getting from it') without getting a chill down your spine.

It is a perfect intro to the great man for the uninitiated. Lastly, I know there are citics who say that his real life persona was more egotistical(!) more selfish, less of a martyr than how he portrays himself on front of the media. I'm not saying the man is Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha! I am sure he has his fair share of faults like the rest of us, but that just makes what he achieved all the more remarkable.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2004
When we were Kings is a stunning portrait of not only one of the most famous World Title Fights of all time, but a real insight into a 'Time' and a 'Place'.
The 'Time' being 1974, a time when the World was still reeling from one of the greatest political scandels of all time, with the fall of the Nixon Administration. It was also a time of coulor, and music, which are beautifuly conveyed in this presentation.
The 'Place' was the relatavly unnoticed and mysterious land of Zaire, in the forgoten continent of Africa.
Zaire was the chosen venue to bring these two Kings into the same ring, due to a massive financial investment, made by the then military dictator, President Mobutu.
The Champion, the unforgiving brooding George Forman, was at the height of his short career, where the proud American had seen off all the big name challengers to his crown with relative ease.
The Challenger, the former champion, and soon to be idle of Zaire, Muhammed Ali. The well informed fight writers, and Ali fans in general, made no secret of the fact that they feared for Ali in this fight.
Ali dominates the biuld up to this fight, and openly courts the people of Zaire, calling them his true brothers. In return, he gained an overwhelming support in the build up, and at the fight itself. Ali continualy impressed his true brothers, and fight fans prior to the fight, with his continual promise that he was 'gonna dance!'
The presentation moves at pace toward the highly anticipated showdown, and the fight itself delivers a twist which many at the time will never truely forget. With the chalenger constantly bating Foreman throughout the fight by repeatdly saying "you suprise me George" "you dont hit hard enough George", and then compleatly doing the oposite to his promise of 'im gonna dance', by leaning back onto the ropes, and inviting the huge champion to finish him off at any time. So much so, that Foreman had punched himself out by the middle of Eigth round. It was then that the Greatest of them all came off the ropes, and finished the job, with The Champion being knocked down, and counted out.
With the big American soul artists (James Brown, BB King, and many others) in town throughout the build up, this Movie/Documentry captures all that was great about this 'Time' and elevates the viewer to a place of, one of the Greatest Sporting occasions of all time,to a time, when... 'They were Truely Kings'.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2001
Your chance to see the most beautiful, exciting and charismatic sportsman of all time, at his peak. You don't need to be a fight fan to enjoy this. This film is excellently crafted with just the right amounts of tension, humour, action and documentary. Ali is irresistible in and out of the ring. His wit and charm will leave you smiling for hours and his boxing will take your breath away. Added to the colour of african dancers, Don King; the music of James Brown and BB King; excellent interviews with Norman Mailer and Spike Lee and you know, you're watching a classic. I can't reccomend it highly enough.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2002
This is possibly the best DVD I have in my collection. Ali for me is the greatest sportsman of all time and his quick witted comments and sense of humour make him one in a million. The film charters the build up, the fight and the aftermath of 'The Rumble In The Jungle'. Ali's performance both in and out of the ring is almost magical and it is clear to see why he is regarded throughout the world as the greatest fighter ever. You will be captivated by this film and you will want to watch it again and again.
Although the sound and picture quality are not up to the standard of modern day films the quality of the documentary makes up for it easily. Buy this DVD!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2001
This roving documentary is a perfect testament to one of the most remembered fight in boxing history. Of course everyone knows the result, but this film goes behind just two men in a ring: it shows all the build-up to the fight, including Foreman's cut and best of all, Ali's magical hold over the people who would all chant, "Ali, Bomaye" which translates as "Ali, kill him". In short, an excellent film and one that you will watch again and again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2007
This is the best boxing documentary ever...

On One side..The Champion, George Foreman- a boxer who literally whitewashed Joe Frazier, the first guy to beat Ali.

On the Other Side, Muhammad Ali, a so-called prisoner of conscience, refusal to fight in the Vietnam war could have finished him for good. Instead, we got presented to an upgraded fighter who not only had the fists and brains but also a deep spiritual mission. The lingering catchphrase..Ali Boma Ye (Ali Destroy Him) is now popular folklore.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2009
I bought this DVD having seen a small part of the film & having seen the original fight on TV in 1974. The film is about much more than just a fight though. It shows how Ali and Foreman adapt to their time in Zaire Ali a consumate showman but also a real driving force for black civil rights across the USA and linking into Africa. Foreman is more reserved and as a result the people of Zaire warm to Ali rather than Foreman. The dialogue from Norman Mailher in particular is incredibly inciteful and very entertaining. The cut of the film is a little shorter than the fuller film version I remember but an excellent film that marries an African dictatorship, civil rights & a boxing match in 1. Ali comes out as a hugely likeable character, a very good film
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2000
As a great boxing fan and not being old enough to see Ali fight live I jumped on this film as soon as it was released. Filmed in Zaire following the Ali vs. Foreman fight this documentary gives you a real behind the scenes look at the great Ali. Also features some great interviews by his friends and trainers filmed in the 90's looking back at the fight and the hype behind it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 August 2006
This was orginally going to be a documentary about the music festival that was playing at the same time as the rumble in the jungle. The footage collected dust for years as nobody had the money to convert the footage into a film. Years later it was realised that the fight was actually more important than the music festival and the film was made. A little of the music footage is left in the final film and what there is is great, in particular BB King playing some stunning blues guitar.

This is a great documentary capturing the greatest sportsman of the 20th century at the height of his fame. Ali was perhaps physically past his best, but he still had the guts and intelligence to outwit a stronger and younger opponent. As a 13 year old I watched the fight live and to this day it remains my favourite sporting moment. Harry Commentator shouting "Oh my God he's won the title back at 32" still rings in my ears to this day. Of course this is an American documentary so we don't get the BBC commentary.

The contemporary interviews with Norman Mailer and George Plimpton (who were both there) add great insight into the occasion and they both tell marvellous stories about Ali.
Ali is very very funny on occasions and it is a joy to see the great man before illness set in a few years later.

As bonus items on the DVD you get both the thriller in manilla (Ali v Frazier) and the rumble in the jungle (complete). This is a must-have DVD for anybody who remembers when Ali was the most famous person on the Planet, and a glorious reminder of his many special talents. If you're a bit too young then watch this to find out what you've missed.
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