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Soul Power (2009)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 73
Fresh: 62 | Rotten: 11

Featuring some incredible performances from many 70s soul legends, Soul Power is an exhilarating snap-shot of a bygone era.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 24
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 3

Featuring some incredible performances from many 70s soul legends, Soul Power is an exhilarating snap-shot of a bygone era.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 3,110

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Movie Info

The three-day music festival Zaire '74 and the emerging musical crossover between Africa and America is documented.

Jan 26, 2010


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (73) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (11) | DVD (2)

Soul Power turns out to be an unusually resonant time capsule, one that weaves together theatrics, musicianship, cosmopolitanism and sharp political critique in a vibrant look-back that's at once celebratory and wistful.

August 14, 2009
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's impossible not to be moved.

August 13, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It packs the emotional and historical power of a heady 'family gathering' celebration of African and, to use the term then in fashion, Afro-American pride.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Soul Power is the indispensable companion film to Leon Gast's thrilling 1996 documentary When We Were Kings.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Watching the Godfather of Soul on the big outdoor stage, you think back to his appearance in The T.A.M.I. Show a decade earlier. And then you think: I feel good.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dazzling chronicle of the African American music expo that was meant to accompany the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight title bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo).

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Soul Power is a window into a time when anything seemed possible.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

B.B. King. Bill Withers. Miriam Makeba. Celia Cruz. And James Brown, earning every inch of the title, "Godfather of Soul," who all by himself probably deforested a few acres around Kinshasa with the volcanic blast of his set.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Does its part to widen this historic concert's potential audience base.

October 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Charlotte Weekly

Watching Soul Power is like flipping through Polaroids of that era. The color is a little washed out and everyone looks amazingly young.

September 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It's hard not to wish that maybe there was a little less of Muhammad Ali promoting himself and a little more of the concert.

September 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

...if you are a fan of any of the musicians ... or maybe I should say if you're completely unfamiliar with any of the musicians mentioned - then Soul Power is well worth seeing. Or at least hearing.

September 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

For a documentary about a music festival, Soul Power doesn't include nearly enough music.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

The movie is surprisingly dry and flavorless. It certainly doesn't help that filmmaker Jeffrey Levy-Hinte put this collection of footage together without any narration and with a bare minimum of narrative captions.

September 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The performances are fine, but this feels like a companion piece to 'When We Were Kings' rather than a work that can stand on its own...

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Soul Power leaves you wanting more, and not in a good way.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

It's best seen as a breezy entertainment and a reminder of how potent some of these performers -- many of whom are dead -- were in their primes.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Ultimately it's the music that makes this film a cause for celebration -- especially the chance to see 'Soul Brother #1' James Brown and his blistering band perform at their absolute prime.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

A footnote to a masterpiece.

July 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

The movie is crisp and quick and looks as if it were shot yesterday, but for all that, Soul Power is ultimately disappointing.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Soul Power

SOUL POWER offers a different view surrounding the events of The Rumble In The Jungle In Zaire-1974. A decent companion to When We Were Kings, but nowhere near as engaging as it could have been. With icons that are larger than life today as they were then, the documentary falls short on piecing together the performances. That's not to say the performances are anything less that fantastic, I just felt the ball was dropped in the editing room with even the beginning of the film taking a bit of time to get steam going. The song choices showcased in the film are the "all too familiar" selections from the artists instead of others which may be lesser known but just as, if not more, powerful. Some of the performances which ended up on the deleted scenes portion of the dvd had me asking why they weren't included in the very short time capsule the film attempts to deliver. Still worth watching, but mostly served as a reminder of how great the documenatary "When We Were Kings" actually is.

March 8, 2010
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

"Soul Power" is an enjoyable concert film about the three day music festival that was scheduled to complement the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman title fight in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974. Even with the fight delayed for several weeks due to injury, the show must still go on and what a show it was with The Spinners, B.B. King and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown("He'll make your bladder splatter." The coolest intro ever.). Most impressive for me was African musicians including Miriam Makeba. The whole festival was a celebration of the music's roots, allowing the American and African musicians to interact. On a personal level, the Americans demonstrated their solidarity with the African people.

If anything, the movie is too short and there could have definitely been more of the music. The behind the scenes footage only proves how difficult it is to put on a concert like this while reminding us all what a great wordsmith Muhammad Ali used to be.
August 10, 2009
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Saw this one at 9 in the morning one weekend during TIFF a few years back and it worked better than a morning coffee to get the juices flowing. Make no doubts about it. This is James Brown's film. A nice companion to When We Were Kings.
October 17, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Not released until 2009, this is the documentary of 1974 music festival run in conjunction with the Rumble In The Jungle in Zaire. There's a surprisingly small amount of actual performances (though you get a few extra in Special Features on the DVD), but in return you get a whole load of background scenes of the time and the place , a bunch of late great musicians hanging out and partying, James Brown at his feverish gyrating best and a very cute, very young Sister Sledge. Magic.
February 2, 2010
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

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