Tuesday, 8 February 2005

When We Were Kings (1996) - ickleReview (DVD)

Documentary about The Rumble in the Jungle: the 1974 world championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire. Promoter Don King did a deal to get both fighters $5 million each from President Mobutu. The fight took place at 4am in the morning so that it could be show on American television. Ali taunted the bigger, stronger and younger Foreman with twelve right leads in the first round (an insult to a fellow professional). Foreman snapped and punched himself out within five rounds as Ali played the dope on the rope: absorbing Foreman's formidable thuggery like a sponge under water. Yet this film is not just about the boxing; it's about Ali the politician, the entertainer, the statesman and the black hero; and the soul train that played its way through Africa in a festival of black solidarity, with James Brown, B. B. King and others on board.

A superb DVD with the whole fight added on as an extra as it appeared on the television broadcast, as well as the infamous later fight, The Thriller in Manila, in which Ali is pummelled by Joe Frazier, before he finally overcomes.

Nugget: Ali truly is one of those legends whom you can't properly comprehend until you see him in press conferences, shining with pride; and then backing up the pomp with his panther gliding gleam in the ring. When he knocks Foreman out, the big man unwinds like a gyroscope just before it hits the ground: a moment of beauty and terror at the destructive power of man.

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