Soul PowerMovies Reviews Soul Power
Release Date: July 10
Director: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
Cinematographer: Paul Goldsmith, Kevin Keating, Albert Maysles, Roderick Young
Studio/Run Time: Sony Pictures Classics, 93 mins.
An enjoyable companion to When We Were Kings
In 1996, Leon Gast’s documentary When We Were Kings vividly retold the famous story of the Ali/Foreman fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, but as you might expect of a boxing match promoted by Don King in the mid ’70s, there was entirely too much spectacle to fit into one film. The fight was a rematch with a historic outcome, a bout legendary enough to relegate the three-day, 12-hour concert that preceded it to a mere footnote in the history books.
Zooming in on the asterisk, filmmaker Jeffrey Levy-Hinte has cobbled together a documentary of the concert from the footage Gast left out. James Brown and B.B. King anchor the show, but the film’s highlight is Bill Withers’ truly soulful performance of “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” a song that feels like the logical, lesser-known conclusion to his more famous “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Billed as an overdue homecoming for its African-American stars and as a prelude to the main event, the concert and the film feel like they’ve been tugged in several directions at once, which prevents the project from truly soaring. But—as an adjunct to When We Were Kings, and a snapshot of these inspired performers in their prime—Soul Power is an enjoyable hour and a half.