The best thing about The Power of One is that it works as a history lesson. Avildsen and his writer, Robert Mark Kamen, have managed to simplify and sort out the players and their points of view in a way no other film about South Africa has done. It makes painfully clear just how deep the problems run, and how their solution will invariably require an almost evolutionary change in everyone. [27 March 1992]
A film that turns the savagery of apartheid into a crisis of conscience for one relatively privileged white boy. Worse yet, it suggests that his crisis is a matter of urgent concern for countless South African blacks. [9 Oct 1992, p.11]
The Power of One emerges as a broadly painted piece of rhetoric. It means well and has an undeniable dramatic pull, but its relegation of blacks to the sidelines and its creation of a white savior are unforgivable. [10 Apr 1992, p.10]
Seeing a movie that doesn’t know the meaning of shameless, that refuses to worry about plausibility, that acts as if subtlety hadn’t been invented yet, does have a very basic kind of intrinsically cinematic pull.
Avildsen is a master at pulling populist heartstrings, Johnny Clegg provides the African music which is so essential to the movie's plot and the panoramic shots of the veldt are frequently breathtaking. But these things alone do not a good movie make.