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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
72
When We Were Kings [DVD] [1997]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£4.89+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on 15 April 2017
This is easily my favourite documentary of all time, chronicling the the build up to the legendary 'Rumble in the Jungle.' Muhammad Ali's attempt to win back the heavyweight title from the KO artist George Foreman, in Zaire.

Ali is at the peak of his powers here. This is the funny, boastful, charming Ali we enjoy watching. He loved the cameras, and they loved him. His soundbites and witticisms are gold. Also, his remarkable intelligence and fierce pride is evident, like when he observes that a plane with an all black crew is something you would never see in the US. Arriving in Zaire, he wins the Africans over with astonishing ease. I mean, EVERYONE loves him.

Still, it's one thing to win over a country - it's another to win against Foreman! This is not the George we know and love today, but a surly, taciturn giant. While he cannot compete with Ali popularity-wise, a lot of people favour him to win this fight. And quite honestly, watching him pound a heavy bag until he leaves a dent in it, can you blame them? Even though Ali points out that he's knocked out heavy hitters (like Sonny Liston) before, shocking the world, most don't fancy his chances.

The fight itself is a thrilling, epic affair. If only I'd been alive to see it! Ali, perhaps wisely, doesn't go toe to toe with Foreman. Nor does he dance, as had been expected. Instead he uses his speed, reflexes and fabulous boxing brain effectively, pulling some clever tricks out of the bag, like right hand leads and of course, the rope-a-dope. Plus, he shows just tough he is. Even thought Foreman does occasionally hit him with some tasty shots, Ali merely shrugs them off and taunts George for not hitting hard enough! How do you deal with someone like that? Foreman had no answer, except to keep slugging away to the point of exhaustion. And... well we all know what happened then.

By the way, the music is great, too. We get to see the likes of James Brown, B.B. King and The Spinners in their prime, and that's a great privilege. When I heard that Ali passed away, I had to put this on, and I won't deny I got a bit emotional. I have watched this many times, and will watch it many more.
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on 12 December 2011
A fascinating document of a great moment in sporting and cultural history, When We Were Kings received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Muhammad Ali at 32 was considered past his prime for the Zaire fight, and the menace of George Foreman who earlier destroyed both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton in the ring, arrive in the African state as overwhelming favourite only to be outwit by Ali in what became known as the "Rumble in the Jungle". But here, Ali displays strength, skill, intelligence, and charm was able to use the now-famous "Rope-a-Dope" tactic to pull off what is probably boxing's greatest upset. Also featured were Don King, President Mobuto Sese Seko, James Brown, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee, BB King, Miriam Makeba and Director Leon Gast. When We Were Kings chronicles the meeting of these two titans. Makes this DVD an absolute gem to have.
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on 7 October 2017
he loved it excellent dvd
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on 30 October 2015
Probably best documentary ever made. Play it to the very end. Fabulous on every element of film making and tells a great story.
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on 28 November 2017
Excellent.
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on 29 November 2017
5/10
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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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on 9 June 2013
This film is marvellous, a mixture of great fight footage, fascinating insights from luminaries such as Norman Mailer who were ringside on the night, short clips which really capture the personality of Ali, plus great concert footage from some of the top soul/blues artists who performed at the music festival which was held at the same time as the fight.

Rightly lauded as one of the best documentary films ever made.
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on 29 March 2017
Great documentary about a great man and a great fight. If you don't know much about the rumble in the jungle, DO NOT google anything about it. Watch this film and get ready to be thoroughly entertained!!
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on 25 June 2015
Classic doc with an interesting production history. Lots of issues over copyright and treatment. See my book, Introduction to Documentary Production" (2002).
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