Soul Power is a vital documentary about “Zaire ’74,” a three-day concert, preceding the famous Ali/Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match in Kinsasha, Zaire, where great musical acts like Celia Cruz, the Fania All Stars, James Brown, The Spinners and B.B. King performed under a banner intended to popularize Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko.
Culled from rare concert footage, director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte — editor on the Oscar-winning When We Were Kings — leaves out the politics of the day while retaining some of the cultural significance of the sweat-drenched event with fly-on-the-wall footage of interaction between the musicians, concert crew managers and the filmmaker himself.
Scenes of Ali speaking eloquently about his connection to Africa resonate with James Brown’s captivating performance of songs like “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud).”
Soul Power is an imperfect social document of a time when anything seemed possible. Here's proof that Michael Jackson never had a thing on James Brown. Grade: B
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