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When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings

1996
Documentary
Sport
1h 28m
An unforgettable account of the "Rumble in the Jungle," this Oscar-winning film captures all the magic of Muhammad Ali at the peak of his triumphant career. (Universal)
Your probable score
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When We Were Kings

1996
Documentary
Sport
1h 28m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 71.58% from 737 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(736)
Compact view
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Rated 20 Apr 2009
95
99th
One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Way better than the Will Smith movie, and does a nice job of capturing the political gravity of the Rumble in the Jungle without over-exaggeration or cheesy music.
Rated 16 Aug 2011
95
97th
The documentary isn't perfect, but what makes this one of the best ever made is the merging of the images and the sportswriters giving commentary during the fight scene. Their language is so evocative and perfect that it's almost like reading a book at times, with the moving picture being a bonus.
Rated 26 Jun 2011
100
95th
One of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen. Captures an amazing combination of Ali and Foreman's personalities, racial tension in the US, and African politics in the 1970s. The run time was absolutely perfect as well. A lesser director would have spent 5 hours on this subject, yet instead the selected 84 minutes presented here are absolutely perfect.
Rated 21 Aug 2018
55
39th
Decent, but overpraised. It does not help the film that Ali comes off as a somewhat tiresome blowhard so that I couldn't help rooting for Foreman who we don't get to know very well.
Rated 23 Sep 2018
95
98th
That song at the end really kills the mood.
Rated 20 Feb 2009
94
94th
Truly epic. I've never felt so moved by a sporting event, mainly because it does so well at bringing Ali to life and making you love him.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
95
95th
The best sports documentary ever on a celebrity athlete. It's such a moving piece and about so much more than just boxing.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
96
94th
A very fascinating documentary about a very fascinating man.
Rated 01 Dec 2008
81
74th
Very good documentary that's only real flaw is a montage of photos set to some of the most generic and awful music I have ever heard. Everything aside from that is informative and entertaining. It really captures Ali's charm and personality.
Rated 15 Mar 2008
86
87th
A fantastic documentary that captures the larger-than-life personality of Muhammed Ali far better than the Will Smith bio-pic. This is the man himself, in his element, running his mouth the way only Ali could. It is a portrait of a fierce competitor, a clever wordsmith and one of the most fascinating characters the world has ever known. We would be lucky to have more athletes like Ali, and if you weren't alive to see him back in the day, this movie is Can't Miss. Excellent.
Rated 09 Jun 2016
80
85th
Truly one of the most engaging sports films of all time, in which Ali talking (and Foreman reacting) build such a powerful account on race, media circus and 70s America. When the greatest athlete opens his mouth, it's a sure thing that everyone around will be thrilled, entertained and provoked. Also, Mailer and Plimpton contribute with in-depth stories about Ali's charismatic, lovely and unique persona.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
95th
Maybe the best documentary of the last 10 years.
Rated 18 Apr 2011
90
97th
Magic.
Rated 14 Oct 2007
85
84th
A well-done documentary of an event we've heard about many times over. It doesn't quite give Foreman a fair shake, and Ali's a bit too glamourized, but the events leading up to the fights and its implications are given the screen-time they deserve.
Rated 07 Feb 2021
95
91st
Evocative, viscerally charged documentary may be a highly subjective portrait, but it's such a perfect and fascinating dissection of the minutiae of Ali's strategy (pre, post and inside the bout) that it's hard to complain; invaluable, expert insight from Mailer and Plimpton gives novices an entry point to the event (as well as providing an eye-witness account); may well have been an even better film devoting more attention to Foreman rather than presenting him as purely reactive cipher to Ali.
Rated 21 Mar 2015
83
72nd
The choice to focus on the Rumble in the jungle, rather than all of Ali's life works incredibly well. Context is provided when necessary without overburdening the film with an unmanageable scope and losing focus. It's not exactly a fast paced doc, but not a moment feels wasted either as I was always looking forward to the next tidbit or revelation. This isn't a film that will ever mean anything special to me, but it's an interesting and expertly edited doc
Rated 09 Sep 2015
84
29th
The material is damn good but somehow it never feels as absorbing as it could be. The filmmakers don't quite have a main focus beyond the event itself, and while they capture some of the surrounding hooplah they don't do a lot with it. Still entertaining, but you wonder what could have been.
Rated 09 Apr 2011
73
40th
I only watched as part of a class assignment, booooooring. Nothing really happens in it and there certainly could be a lot more educational content. A fair amount is forgiven however, because my god, watching Ali trash-talk is watching a artist create a masterpiece.
Rated 20 Nov 2022
80
75th
I grew up knowing who Ali was, but not why Ali was great. It was one of those things I never questioned. This documentary proves why Ali's greatness was never questioned. Unsure if it's just this film, but t-shirts looked like they were made from the thinnest material.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
94th
Great documentary about one of the greatest boxing matches of all time.
Rated 26 Dec 2014
72
63rd
* Directing, Aura : 7 * Ease of Viewing : 7.5 * Naked Eye : 7
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
82nd
A good documentary.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
65th
Great documentary about the glory days of Muhammed Ali when he really was "the greatest."
Rated 14 Aug 2007
78
89th
Ali shines through in this well-made documentary that also makes good use of the musical performances that formed part of the whole travelling circus, with Mailer and Plimpton doing their best to play up to the camera as well.
Rated 28 Sep 2011
75
57th
A little dry at times, but watching Ali both in and out of the ring is a delight.
Rated 21 Jun 2008
89
67th
Very good.
Rated 18 Apr 2012
83
93rd
There's something about boxing that makes for the most interesting athletes and the best documentaries. This is one of the best in a sea of fantastic boxing docs, and one worth watching for anybody with even a passing interest in the sport.
Rated 20 Feb 2008
90
94th
Better than the film Ali.
Rated 16 Sep 2015
90
94th
Ali Bomaye!
Rated 23 Dec 2010
89
92nd
I'm a huge fan of the sport. I'm not the biggest Ali enthusiast, but there is no doubt that the man was great, and his colorful manner makes him easy to watch and hang on his every word. I also recommend "Thrilla in Manila". This was a documentary following Ali's 3rd and final bout with Joe Frazier, which was also possibly the fight largely responsible for his condition today. His antics leading up to the match and defamation of an honorable fighter sort of left a sour taste in my mouth.
Rated 02 Dec 2012
80
88th
Ali! Bumaye!
Rated 29 Jun 2010
74
33rd
A poet vs a statue. Who do you think would win?
Rated 06 Apr 2021
90
87th
Leon Gast was hired to document the proceedings, but his footage was wrapped up in legal tangles for 2 decades. By the time he was able to complete the documentary in the 90's, memories of the event had faded somewhat. It's an astonishingly great documentary that captures both the impact of this mammoth cultural event where the pinnacle of African American accomplishments in sports and music came to Africa for the fight of the decade, and the fact that this was one of the most incredible boxin
Rated 13 Jan 2009
78
88th
Just the way a narrative documentary should be done. Fantastic editing lays out the story in a most tasteful and sensible manner.
Rated 23 Nov 2018
88
68th
I'm of the age where Ali loomed large as a pop culture icon, but to my young mind it was not clear why. This movie goes a long way towards explaining that while focusing entirely on the circumstances regarding just one of his fights. There is some great music, and many of the peripheral figures (esp. Don King) still occupy our headspace today.
Rated 11 Dec 2013
83
75th
What a figure!
Rated 12 Sep 2011
75
85th
Ali is mesmerizing. It is appropriate that in any scene that he is in, everyone revolves around him. Very well put together doc.
Rated 29 Nov 2009
95
93rd
inspirational doco
Rated 23 Mar 2022
75
69th
I don’t know much about boxing Ali or Foreman 
Never had much interest in the sport
 But this is a really good documentary and a chance to see unquestionably one of the greatest sports athletes of all time 
As Ali himself would put it:
 “THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME” 
Also some great concert footage and celebrities of the 70’s era
Rated 08 Aug 2011
85
71st
An extraordinary, in depth look at one of the greatest fights in boxing history told through stock footage, with Plimpton and a very lucid Mailer commenting with insightful bits of boxing trivia. On a side note, Muhammad Ali would be incredibly irritating to hang out with for more than an hour.
Rated 08 Nov 2008
68
38th
Interesting docu. Highlights for me were listening to the writers talk about the times as they saw them, as well as a new love of George Foreman. I found Ali annoying throughout most of it, but it's hard not to love him by the end.

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