Review: 'Soul Power'

Concert footage not to be missed in this documentary about the music superstars who performed before the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight in 1974.

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Back in 1974, the three-ring circus that was the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight – the "Rumble in the Jungle" – was preceded by a three-day concert of American soul and African music superstars. Although a belated Oscar-winning documentary of the events surrounding the fight, "When We Were Kings," was released in 1996, the concert footage has only now been fashioned into a film, the rousing "Soul Power." It makes clear that the legends in Zaire that year were not only in the boxing ring. Headliners include James Brown in full sweat, B.B. King, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, and the marvelous Bill Withers. (After seeing him here, his long absence from the music business seems doubly regrettable.) Director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte pads out the concert footage with not always stimulating backstage stuff, but the music makes it all worthwhile. In interviews, Levy-Hinte has said that a great deal more concert footage exists. I can't wait for the expanded version DVD. Grade: B+ (Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language.)

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