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When We Were Kings

Where to Watch When We Were Kings


When We Were Kings is a compelling 1996 sports documentary that tells the story of one of the most celebrated boxing matches in history, the Rumble in the Jungle, where Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in the heart of Africa. The film not only showcases photographs and footage from the event, but also offers an in-depth narrative, enabling viewers to understand the socio-political landscape around the epic encounter. Directed by Leon Gast, the work stars the illustrious Muhammad Ali, heavyweight champion George Foreman, and boxing promoter Don King, amidst an ensemble of other noted personalities.

The documentary takes the viewers back to 1974, a time when Zaire, an African nation, was chosen as a seemingly unlikely location to hold the world heavyweight title match. This fight was significant - setting Ali, a former champion trying to claim his throne back, against Foreman, the reigning champion who seemingly carried invincibility in his fists.

The documentary is enriched by the presence of Ali himself, who shines as a personality able to hold the viewer's interest beyond the ring, demonstrating his sharp wit, charisma, and commitment to social justice. Through the interviews and footage from the time, we get a snapshot of Ali’s magnetism and wisdom beyond his incredible prowess in the ring.

Equally interesting is the portrayal of George Foreman, who, in the shadow of Ali’s grand personality, is also spotlighted as an equally compelling character. As a younger, stronger contender, Foreman is revealed to be a formidable adversary, showing audiences the mammoth task that lay ahead for Ali.

Between the boxing narrative, the documentary touches upon the larger than life figure that is Don King, a novice promoter at the time with a flamboyant persona. His role in organizing such an historic event furthers the intrigue of the story beyond the bouts, bringing in the business and lights of the sports.

However, When We Were Kings is not only a sports documentary. It delves into the larger socio-political implications this match had for both the United States and Africa. The documentary effectively portrays the zeitgeist of the era, touching on the racial tensions and repercussions from the Vietnam War that were prevalent in 1970s America and how this had its own effect on Ali, Foreman, their match, and its African location.

The extensive range of interviewees in the documentary is a testament to the wide-reaching influence of the showdown and the two titans involved in it. From notable figures in boxing to celebrities such as James Brown, Spike Lee and B.B. King, along with journalists who covered the event, they all contribute to the film's multi-faceted exploration of the cultural, historical, and political ramifications of the Rumble in the Jungle.

This Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary reflects and recreates the atmosphere of suspense, drama, and excitement that loomed large during the time. It is a film not only about a sporting event but of two athletes who transcended the confines of their sport to become global symbols of racial pride and might. It is an engaging and vibrant retrospect of an epochal moment in the history of sport and society.

Director Leon Gast spent over two decades to meticulously craft a narrative that cuts across sport, race, and music with stunning archival footages and interviews that reveal bigger perspective of the time’s zeitgeist. The film successfully immerses viewers in a time capsule set in the 1970s world, bringing to life the energy, passion, and cultural significance of the Rumble in the Jungle.

When We Were Kings thus remains more than a boxing documentary- it is a cultural document, a compelling chronicle of an extraordinary period in history, relying on the magnetism of two of the world's finest athletes and their legendary encounter to tell a larger story. It's a testament to the cultural relevancy of sports, the indomitable spirit of athletes, and the impact such events can have on the world. A must-watch for both boxing enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

When We Were Kings is a Documentary movie released in 1996. It has a runtime of 89 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.9. It also holds a MetaScore of 83.

How to Watch When We Were Kings

Where can I stream When We Were Kings movie online? When We Were Kings is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Hulu Plus, Paramount+, Amazon Prime, Max, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent When We Were Kings for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Leon Gast
Also starring George Foreman
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