Netflix Pick: ‘When We Were Kings’

When We Were Kings (1996)
Directed by Leon Gast
89 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Leon Gast’s When We Were Kings won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 1996.  Kings is a captivating, enthralling look into the life of legendary American boxer Mohammed Ali and his 1974 bout with George Foreman, dubbed ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’.  Besides Ali and Foreman, the film also features the likes of Don King, Spike Lee, James Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, and George Plimpton.  Pieced together with footage from that era, it provides an inside look at Ali’s lager-than-life personality, showing his huge ego while at the same time showing his passion for helping those less fortunate than himself, and his genuine longing to reform the social issues of the time.  I found myself completely entranced by Ali and the film itself.  Kings also provides some insight into Zaire’s politics and the oppression of its people.  Mailer’s interview segments were also incredibly captivating, which is probably why he is one of the most successful writers of all time.  Ali is a hugely prominent figure in both American sports and history, and When We Were Kings is an absolute must-see documentary.

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