Top positive review
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.