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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Soul Power's R&B rumbles in the jungle

click to enlarge FIGHT CLUB: Muhammad Ali (from left), Bill Withers and Don King
  • FIGHT CLUB: Muhammad Ali (from left), Bill Withers and Don King

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte’s concert film Soul Power can be viewed as the warm-up act to the Oscar-winning 1996 documentary When We Were Kings. In Kings, Leon Gast chronicled 1974's famed “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire (now Congo). An African/African-American musical festival was scheduled to coincide with the heavyweight bout, but after Foreman suffered a minor injury, the show went on as planned, even though the boxing match was postponed for six weeks.

Superb interviewees such as Norman Mailer, as well as the always arresting Ali, make When We Were Kings an electrifying sports movie. The "Zaire ’74" concert now serves as a kind of a footnote to the match, but the 35-year-old concert footage and behind-the-scenes moments make Soul Power feel like a backstage pass to a now overlooked musical event.

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(Image courtesy Antidote Films/Sony Pictures Classic)

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