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When We Were Kings (1997)

Muhammad Ali , George Foreman , Leon Gast  |  PG |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown, B.B. King
  • Directors: Leon Gast
  • Producers: Leon Gast, David Sonenberg, Keith Robinson, Taylor Hackford, Vikram Jayanti
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Polygram USA Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 22, 2002
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630451493X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "When We Were Kings" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Academy Award/Best Documentary Feature
  • Exclusive interview with filmmaker Leon Gast

Editorial Reviews

An unforgettable account of the "Rumble in the Jungle". With never-before-seen footage and new interviews,, "When We Were KIngs" takes us back to a classic moment in history. This Oscar-winning film captures all the magic of Muhammad Ali at the peak of his triumphant career.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My All-Time Favorite Documentaries April 28, 2001
Format:DVD
I love this film. Between Muhammad Ali's poetry (and taunts at Howard Cosell's sex life), the awesome, instantaneous, destructive power of a hungry young knight at the apex of his illustrious career--as Howard might have said-- and the one, two, three, four punch of James Brown; life really doesn't get much more exciting.
These are the obvious reasons to love this documentary. But there's also the very real political side; promoting a huge fight in a country ruled by an evil dictator; one who "sent a message" by rounding up a few thousand criminals, and killing them. So it's pretty damn interesting to see some drunken, coked up early 70s music promoter dealing with logistics in lovely Zaire.
I also love listening to what Foreman says, and doesn't say, as I think Norman Mailer mentions in the film. My favorite is when some silly reporter asks him if he thinks Ali will win the fight, or something like that.
"Could be, could be...But I don't think so."
Everything in this film is worthwhile. It even explores a bit of the underbelly of the beast; the world of Don King, boxing promoter, and amoral manipulator (well, I guess the two go hand in hand). And mention is made of Muhammad's current illness, with conflicting views of whether too many beatings took him down.
It's a film about all this and more. The story of Ali is exciting enough, with enough raw courage to put Rocky Balboa to shame. Add a quiet, dispondent, monster of an opponent, the king of sleaze, The Spinners, a sucubus, the evil dictator, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, and others; and what do you have?
Worthwhile entertainment, my friend. On every level.
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half Great film. Doesn't get the fight right December 18, 2000
Format:DVD
There is a large hole in this film, and it is in the depiction of the actual fight itself. Everything that led up to the fight is brilliantly presented. This is Ali in all of his greatness. You see his fight strategy unfold as the film progresses. He turns the people of Zaire into his hometown crowd. You watch him psyche himself up by raising the stakes. The fight became more then the heavyweight championship. Ali was going to "walk down the alley ways and sit with the wine heads, and talk to the prostitutes on the streets..." Ali was going to better the world, and restore the black mans pride. All he had to do was beat Foreman first. And he loved to be the underdog. He loved to shock the world when nobody gave him a chance in hell of winning. You see him asking an audience of fight writers, "Who's got George picked? Raise your hands. Who thinks George is gonna whup me?" At a news conference he told Don King, "I know you got George picked, but I'm gonna show you all just how great I am."
By the time Ali stepped into the ring, Foreman didn't stand a chance. Ali was almost a decade past his prime, and Foreman was in the middle of his, but Ali was about to shred him, and this is where this film falls short. The fight is simply not accurately depicted. The film focuses almost exclusively on Ali's rope-a-dope strategy. You are left with the impression that Ali was pounded on the ropes for 8 rounds, only to explode in a moment of glory, knocking out a tired and caught of guard Foreman. That is simply not the way it happened. There were 8 rounds in this fight, and Ali won all 8 of them. True, he did lay on the ropes a lot, but that was only a portion of his strategy. He demoralized Foreman by taking his best shots, and scoffing at them. Ali would taunt Foreman, "Is THAT all you got George?
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When We Were Kings" is Award Winning Boxing Documentary September 3, 2005
Format:DVD
For anyone who does not know the story that led up to this fight, here it is: In 1964, the mouthy impetuous Cassius Clay (soon to become Muhammad Ali) a 10 to 1 underdog, defeats the supposedly undefeatable Sonny Liston to become heavyweight boxing champion at just 22 years old. Clay used his unbelievable speed to pepper Liston into quitting on his stool after the 6th round. In 1967, Ali is stripped of his title for refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam War. Ali is reinstated in 1970 after a 3 and 1/2 year lay-off during his physical prime. Ali, now 29 years old, must fight Joe Frazier (who is in his physical prime at 27) to regain his crown. The two meet in Madison Square Garden in the "Fight of the Century", this first time two undefeated champions meet for the title. Ali loses to Frazier in 15 grueling rounds and it appears his chance to regain the title is history. In 1972, Ali is defeated by a relative unknown, Kenny Norton, in a 15-round decision that sees Norton break Ali's jaw. It appears that Ali is finished. In 1973, Frazier loses the title to the young, powerful, Sonny Liston-like slugger, George Foreman. Foreman bounces Frazier around in the ring like a rubber ball, knocking him down 7 times before the fight is ended. After easily KO'ing the imposing Kenny Norton in one round, Foreman is seen as undefeatable, just as Sonny Liston was in 1964.

Now it's 1974, Muhammed Ali is 32 and thought to be well past his prime by the press and boxing world. Even his handlers feel Ali cannot beat Foreman and they fear Ali will be hurt badly by Foreman. Foreman is ten years younger and undefeated Heavyweight champion of the world, a title he appears to own for the next decade or more. Fight Promoter Don King offers both fighters a record 5 million dollars apiece to fight.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
It was set for usa dvd not for austrailia so i cant use it
Published 19 days ago by bernie langford
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product & service.
A well received girt.
Published 29 days ago by audrey M porter
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch and be amazed - When We Were Kings.
This film is about the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship fight staged between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. R. Blackshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Ali in incredible form!
Published 1 month ago by Renato Martino de Oliveira Paiva
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome. ...just awesome
Published 1 month ago by Mark Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Love!
Classic documentary!!
Published 2 months ago by Lady B
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Movie....
This is a great movie. It really tells the story of this great fight in a comprehensive way and presents a fascinating portrait of Ali. Well worth watching for the content. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John M. Sully
5.0 out of 5 stars Mohammad Ali was a King
This movie shows incredible clips shot live at the time for a documentary that wasn't made and was pushed back and pushed back. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Riley James
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live the King !
Best documentary I've ever seen.... Hands down!! Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer to ever live. G.O.A.T. Very well done.
Published 5 months ago by Brandon Hollenbeck
2.0 out of 5 stars Stumble in the Jungle
When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996)
[originally posted 18Jun2001]

Taylor Hackford, the director behind such interesting and absorbing fare as An Officer and a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert Beveridge
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