When We Were Kings Review

A boxing documentary? No. A human documentary. Ali and Foreman were set to battle in Africa, and the cameras were rolling. This is history on a grand scale, and if you are a fan of movies, then you have to see how this turns out. It doesn’t matter who won the fight, what matters is the build up, the politics, and the fact that two African American men would fight in Africa and yet would be so polarizing. When We Were Kings won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1997, and it’s still that good.

There are gems within this, including topics of racism, class, social structure, political spectral movements, and so much more. You want to be an iconoclast? Ali did that, and to what extent? For all the praise, fear in his eyes when he realized something was awry with his initial plan. Or was he truly the greatest, and already knew what was to come?

Foreman, the antihero, and then turned villain when he brings a German shepherd with him. This is a big offense to the people, and wow, you wouldn’t even know it, and he didn’t either, apparently. There’s a balancing act here that speaks volumes. James Brown and his musical performance is a background noise, then you get to see and hear footage from training, and how the media moved forward with highlighting both men. You get the bravado, you get the power of boxing, but you also get the humanity of what it was like to be African American in the United States, and what it meant to be African in Africa.

The dichotomy of voices, the bigger elements of fighting, and so much more are on display. I cannot give this movie enough justice, and the documentary elements will floor you. Oh, you don’t like boxing? That’s ok, this is not about boxing, it uses sports as a metaphor for life, and if you’re a human, watch this. It’s cerebral, it’s entertaining, it should be required viewing for anyone that wants to understand fame, political affirmations, community, and what the African American experience is today, in the past, and how celebrity doesn’t do anything to foil depression and more. Hell of a movie!

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