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Soul Power

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

You hold in your hands a backstage pass to one of the most extraordinary concert events ever filmed. Featuring musical legends James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz and a host of others, SOUL POWER documents the three-night Zaire ’74 music festival planned to coincide with the now-legendary and epic “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Much more than a concert film, Soul Power provides a dynamic fly-on-the-wall look into the turbulent proceedings, with on-the-spot commentary from the musicians themselves, concert organizers Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine, Muhammad Ali and boxing promoter extraordinaire Don King, Soul Power will leave you breathless.


While Leon Gast captured the "Rumble in the Jungle" in his Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings, his editor, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, using Gast's original footage, preserves the music portion of the event in Soul Power. In 1974 Stewart Levine and Hugh Masekela organized a three-day festival to celebrate African and African-American music in conjunction with the heavyweight bout. Just as Gast provided glimpses of the musicians, Levy-Hinte provides glimpses of promoter Don King and Muhammad Ali preparing for the day in which Ali would reclaim the championship from George Foreman. About Zaire, the fighter enthuses, "The people are so peaceful, and they're so nice. New York is more of a jungle than here!" (Foreman is conspicuous by his absence.) Levy-Hinte also adds scenes of Kinshasa's street life, concert preparations in New York, and backstage chatter, but the performances, which would benefit from onscreen titles, provide the highlights. Among them: the Spinners ("One of a Kind"); B.B. King ("The Thrill Is Gone"); Bill Withers ("Hope She'll Be Happier"); Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars ("Quimbara"); Masekela's wife, Miriam Makeba ("The Click Song"); and especially James Brown ("Cold Sweat"), who sports a denim jumpsuit with "GFOS"--Godfather of Soul--emblazoned in studs. Adding to the fun, Brown's hype man introduces him by proclaiming, "This man will make your liver quiver; this man will make your bladder splatter!" And keep an eye out for Sister Sledge in rehearsal and George Plimpton at the press conference. Extras include deleted scenes and commentary from Levy-Hinte and Levine. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from Soul Power (Click for larger image)

Special Features

Commentary with Director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Music/Festival Producer Stewart Levine
Deleted Scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Don King, Celia Cruz, Manu Dibango
  • Directors: Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte
  • Producers: Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte, David Sonenberg, Leon Gast
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002WH0ZAE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,431 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Soul Power" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 19, 2010
Format: DVD
Less a concert film than a time capsule of Black music in the 1970s

In 1974 Muhammad Ali was scheduled to fight George Foreman in Zaire to to regain the Heavyweight title. The promoter of the fight was the always-colorful Don King. In conjunction with the fight a large concert was planned featuring American and African and Latin pop stars. A few weeks before, Foreman cut himself and the fight had to be postponed. But there was money to be made on the concert so - with private financing from some Liberians - the concert went on. This film is a documentary on the staging of the concert. Its making its DVD debut here.

If you are looking for a "Woodstock" experience or even "Wattstax", you might be disappointed. Less than 40% of the screen time is devoted to musical performances. In fact, except for an opening number by James Brown, there is no music footage for the first 33 minutes of this 93-minute film. There is a lot of the planning - especially when the "money man" has some issues - and setting up the stage. And there is Ali talking about the race issue in the US (in his trademark rhymes).

When we get to the concert, things kick in with some incredible - and sometimes unusual - performances. Bill Withers plays a solo acoustic guitar in a strong vocal performance. Miriam Makeba explains her "Click Song". The Fania All Stars (with Celia Cruz) and the Crusaders do their thing and B.B. King does his "Thrill is Gone" for the umpteenth time. Surprisingly the performers are never identified until the closing credits! Some of the performers are not known in the US and, even those that are (Withers, for example) will be new to younger viewers.

No performer gets more than one song - except Brown, who gets two.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By on land on September 2, 2011
Format: DVD
The 2 Celia Cruz performances and 3 James Brown numbers are great, and maybe the best visual quality you'll find--they had cameras right on stage with them. Imagine what this DVD could have been, but instead:

1. So little music. The film is short, and the first half is documentary footage with special emphasis on the guys setting up the lights (feel free to fast forward). One example is the Celia Cruz performance on the plane, which they intercut with the lighting guys miles away to try to kill the mood. The other acts are all only given one song, showing the producers' disinterest in the great African music before their eyes. Which brings us to

2. No Congo perspective. The film gives us the Americans Abroad view, them happy to be there and do the concert. When Africans are shown, they are in crowds and what they say is never translated. The deleted scenes take this to extremes, with exoticized images of anonymous markets (where are they?), letting the people chatter away with no subtitles. Imagine making a documentary in a foreign country and not interviewing even a single person from there. Who was Mobutu and why was this concert held? You'll never find out from this DVD.

Presumably the rest of the footage exists, and maybe someday we'll get a decent DVD, including, say, a 30-minute doc of behind-the-scenes footage with the Congolese, the Americans, the Cubans, and how it all went down; separately, at least 2 hours of main concert performances; 30 minutes of jamming and sound checks (the 5 minutes of this on the deleted scenes is a highlight of the current DVD).
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Format: Blu-ray
1974. The year that record producer Stewart Levine and South African trumpeter came up with an idea to bring together African-American and African music artists for a three day music festival. The festival would also consist of a major heavyweight boxing championship between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman (who was the current heavyweight champion).

In addition to the music festival and boxing championship, a movie would document the creation of this event which would be known as "Zaire 74" and the documentary which would be known as "Soul Power" would be directed by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte would be released in 2008. The documentary covers the music festival while the fight was covered in the 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings"(producers of this documentary also produced "Soul Power") which featured the championship match between Ali and Foreman.

"Zaire 74" looked very promising until the last minute when George Foreman had an injury which would postpone the boxing match for three weeks and thus the audience of expected international tourists was eliminated.

So, now the creators of the event have a difficult decision. To go on with the music festival or not? Featuring talent such as James Brown, BB King, The Spinners and African performers such as Miriam Makeba, TPOK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau and many other performers such as Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars to other celebrities including Muhammad Ali and Don King. With so much invested, stages have been built...there was only one decision that could be made. The show must go on!
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