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When We Were Kings (1996)

8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 10,476 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 53 user | 60 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

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Title: When We Were Kings (1996)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
Mobutu Sese Seko ...
Himself (President of Zaire)
...
Himself
...
Himself - Writer
...
Himself - Writer
Thomas Hauser ...
Himself
...
Himself - Artist (as Malik Bowens)
Lloyd Price ...
Himself - Concert Promoter
The Spinners ...
Themselves
...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Drew Bundini Brown ...
Himself - Ali's Ass't Trainer (as Drew 'Bundini' Brown)
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Storyline

It's 1974, Muhammed Ali is 32 and thought by many to be past his prime. George Forman is ten years younger and the Heavyweight champion of the world. Promoter Don King wants to make a name for himself and offers both fighters five million dollars apiece to fight one another, and when they accept, King has only to come up with the money. He finds a backer in Mobutu Sese Suko, the dictator of Zaire and the "Rumble in the Jungle" is set. A musical festival, featuring the America's top black performers, like James Brown and B.B. King, is also planned. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The untold story of the Rumble in the Jungle


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for images of violence, brief nudity and some language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 February 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

When We Were Kings  »

Box Office

Gross:

$2,666,118 (USA) (6 June 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though almost all of the footage in this documentary was shot by producer/director Leon Gast in 1974, one reason it took 23 years to complete was because the negative and rights to the film were entangled in civil suits involving the Liberians who financed the movie's making. See more »

Quotes

Malik Bowens: Muhammad Ali, he was like a sleeping elephant. You can do whatever you want around a sleeping elephant; whatever you want. But when he wakes up, he tramples everything.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bongwater (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Am Am Pondo
Written by Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba Music (ASCAP)
Performed by Miriam Makeba
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User Reviews

fascinating piece of history, even for non-fight fans
20 September 2002 | by (Connecticut, USA) – See all my reviews

It goes nearly without saying that Ali is a transcendent figure of his generation. For those currently in their twenties who did not grow up in Ali era, this film is a glimpse at why the world choked up upon seeing Ali light the flame at the Atlanta Olympiad.

While Gast's footage of Ali in Kinshasa is sparse, interview segments with Plimpton, Mailer and Lee, and a pulsing soundtrack fill in the blanks to tell a surprisingly complete tale. The characters are fascinating: A young Don King, who had not yet made his name; a sullen, menacing George Foreman bearing no resemblance to the huckster we see today; the creepy Mobutu, who is rarely seen though his presence is felt, and Howard Cosell, who appears briefly to predict the defeat of the man who practically created him. Far, FAR superior to Michael Mann's Ali, which lifted huge pieces from this documentary. While Mann's film provides much more for the eye, Gast's "Kings" is a superior example of pure storytelling.


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