In 1964, a brash new pro boxer, fresh from his olympic gold medal victory, explodes on to the scene, Cassius Clay. Bold and outspoken, he cuts an entirely new image for African American's in sport with his proud public sel... more »f confidence with his unapologetic belief that he is the greatest boxer of all time. To his credit, he sets out to prove that with his highly agile and forceful style soon making him a formidable boxer who soon claims the heavyweight championship. His personal life is no less noteworthy with his allegiance to the Nation of Islam, his friendship with the controversial Malcolm X and his abandonment of his slave name in favour of Muhammad Ali stirring up controversy. Yet, at the top of his game, both Ali's personal and professional lives face the ultimate test with the military draft rules are changed, making him eligible for military induction during the Vietnam War. Despite the fact that he could easily agree to a sweetheart deal that would have meant an easy tour of duty for himself, Ali refuses to submit on principle to cooperate in an unjust war for a racist nation that treated his people so poorly. The cost of that stand is high as he finds himself unable to legally box in his own country while his case is contested in court. What follows is a battle for a man who would sacrifice so much for what he believes in and a comeback that would cement his legend as one of the great sports figures of all time.« less
Mark L. (Dragonlew) from MEMPHIS, TN Reviewed on 6/6/2016...
Great movie! I recommend it!! Will Smith does an excellent job as Ali!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kenny H. (tneagle) Reviewed on 6/23/2014...
So boring, we stopped watching it.
It seems to be a documentary on being Muslim.
I was looking for more action and got a slow moving movie.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Darryl M. (dmill1953) from POWDER SPGS, GA Reviewed on 5/8/2010...
I enjoyed the background info in this movie that never get told in news story about "The Champ!".
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Shirley R. (sdrred) Reviewed on 6/5/2008...
Awesome movie! Will Smith does a great job!!!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Float like a butterfy, sting like a bee.
Gunner | Bethlehem,Georgia | 04/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Will Smith is eerily like Ali. It's like Cassiuss Clay is playing himself. I remember watching Clay fight in the Olympics and Smith has him down pat. I'd admired Ali for being willing to go to prison for his convictions instead of fleeing to Canada like all the other bed-wetting, Mommas boys who opposed the War in Viet Nam. Jon Voight is good as Howard Cosell, who was a nobody until he weaseled his way into Ali's life. I understand that Smith and Voight both received Academy Award nominations for their roles in this move. I wonder how Smith "bulked up" for this role.
Highly recommended for fans of Will Smith, Jon Voight, boxing the way it use to be, and Cassius Clay, aka Mohammed Ali.
Gunner April, 2008
The most polarizing, thought-provoking film of 2001
Christopher Zayne Reeves | Columbus, OH | 01/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen Ali twice now, I am no closer to coming to any conclusions on what I think about it. Very few films have forced me to debate my opinions on the art of film and what constitutes great art and what constitutes failed great art. Ali gets so much right and the story is told with more verve than almost any other film this year. And yet for a film that was so clearly a labor of love made by focused, talented people we never get a clear portrait of the subject and we are constantly let down by a script that is often little more than an impressionistic sketch of a potentially great screenplay.Why is Malcolm X's relationship with Ali given an entire third of the film's running length only for it to be completely forgotten for the next two hours? Did Malcolm X's assassination continue to haunt Ali? Were there any further emotional repercussions and regrets for shunning him just before his death? Did the assassination have any effect on Ali's relationship with the Nation of Islam? As Malcolm X, Mario Van Peebles gives a charismatic performance, completely stepping out of the considerable shadow of Denzel Washington's portrayal. Peebles' Malcolm is a more pensive, haunted figure. He is also the only character in the film to be given his own scenes without Ali being present. This confused me more the second time around. Why did they give so much weight to a storyline that is never brought up again for the rest of the film? It felt like an easy opportunity to grab viewers by presenting another major figure in American history as bait. Michael Mann has gone on record stating that the ten year span of Ali winning his first world title to regaining the crown from George Foreman seemed to be the most intense and dramatic decade of the great man's life. And while there is never a shortage of historic moments and great conflict, the impact is muted by the lack of depth in the storytelling. We never get inside a single character's head, never quite grasp what we are supposed to take away from what we are shown. The ending, with Ali & co. celebrating the stunning Foreman upset, does not ring true with anything we are presented with over the course of the near 3 hour film. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Ali's life knows that it begans to go steadily downhill for his career and his health after Zaire. At no point are we prepared as an audience to be left on a Rocky Balboa-esque note of corny triumph. Ali also shines brilliantly on several fronts. Every actor in this film is riveting in their commitment to character and story. It was very smart to cast an ensemble of dependably superb actors such as Jeffrey Wright, Ron Silver and Jon Voight in key supporting roles. Jeffrey Wright brings his usual quicksilver intelligence to the role of the photographer who follows Ali throughout both their careers and who himself is a mirror of the social upheaval of the times. Ron Silver, as Angelo Dundee, is an anchor of paternal warmth. Miles away from the feral mastermind villains he often plays, he makes it clear that his only interest is in the well being of his fighter. Unselfish and unwaivering, he is a calming presence throughout. Jon Voight, as Howard Cosell, is remarkable in his ability to find the balance between the flamboyance of the part and the no-frills realism required to keep it from turning into a sketch comedy piece. Voight is one of the rare few great actors, along with Sir Ralph Richardson and Fredric March, to gain a third career wind as a pricelessly eccentric supporting actor.As "Wife #1," "Wife #2," and "Wife #3" (at least that is how the film presents them) Nona Gaye fares the best as #2. Sane, practical and protective of her husband, she radiates female strength and makes Ali look foolish for not taking her council.Jamie Foxx, as cornerman "Bundini" Brown, is a revelation. Having already proven himself a major actor with his turn in Any Given Sunday, he is altogether something else here. Especially in the film's final hour, his mastery of body language is something to behold. Watch the scene where he defends Ali after the bitter Frazier bout. Truly an amazing piece of work. Foxx is fearless in making the character as pitiful as he is hilarious. At his best, which he is in this film, Jamie Foxx turns his line readings into poetry in the same way that Richard Pryor could make his stand-up material soar into literature on a good night. And then there is Will Smith as The Man himself. There's something about playing a boxer that seems to spark actors to give career-defining performances. John Garfield, Robert Ryan, Robert DeNiro and now Will Smith. Smith improves on many of Ali's riffs by giving them an actor's refined sense of timing and showmanship. This makes up for the lack of legitimate suprise that Ali himself created so effortlessly. Smith also shows a frightening mean streak in the champ's easy dominance over slower, less artful opponents. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the unforgettable opening fight against Sonny Liston, played out in almost real time. Having established his physical and intellectual dominance over his opponent, Smith as Ali is merciless in dissecting them. And while the film fails us by never showing us the inner man, Smith keeps our attention glued to the screen with his presence and talent. One of the few films to really merit the much-abused tag lines "No middle ground" and "Love it or hate it" Ali proves itself to be a substantial achievement just by the fact that it makes one care greatly in the first place. A film that deserves to endure and be watched by generations to come. Maybe one of them will figure it out for us."
He's a lover AND a fighter!
Fafa Demasio | New York City | 02/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie "Ali" portrays the story of one of the world's most recognized boxers, Mohammed Ali (who was born Cassius Clay). Actor Will Smith gives an excellent performance as boxer Ali. It is hard enough to portray a real character, much less a legendary one. Smith is successful in showing not only the physical side but also the charisma of the boxing personality, Ali, who has strong convictions and a funny wit.The movie begins with Ali's fight against boxer Sonny Liston, which puts him on the map as a fighter. It ends with Ali's fight with George Foreman in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of Congo). This famous fight was billed as the 'Rumble in the Jungle.' In between, the movie covers the fighter's rise to success, his conversion to the Muslim religion, his name change and his fight against the U.S. government to keep from being enlisted in the army. We also see Ali's close friendship to two well-known people - sportscaster Howard Cosell and Malcom X.The movie "Ali" also touches on the boxer's attraction to women and some of his many love relationships. (Smith's real life's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, plays the role of Ali's first wife.) Ali is certainly attracted to all pretty women!All the actors give wonderful performances - Jamie Foxx as Bundini Brown (the man who worked to motivate Ali and help him with his rhymes - "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!"), Jon Voight as Howard Cosell, Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X, Mykelti Williamson as Don King, Giancarlo Esposito as Cassius Clay Sr., Jada Pinkett Smith as Sonji Roi (Ali's first wife) and Nona M. Gaye as Belinda Boyd, to name a few.The shots especially of some of the African countries (Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa) are vibrant and rich.Although I'm not much of a boxing fan and sometimes found the boxing scenes a bit prolonged, all in all I found the movie a great story of a great athlete set to a great music soundtrack."
How could Muhammed Ali ever be tedious?
L. Quido | Tampa, FL United States | 06/21/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I never thought it possible, but the unfortunate length (157 minutes) and the pacing of Michael Mann's film bogs down the story of a sports icon who may never be matched in the sheer amount of charisma he possessed. I'm a big fan of Michael Mann's - from the Miami Vice days to Last of the Mohicans to The Insider. His visual and sound vision were clearly present in this film, and his script and the caliber of his stars clearly produced some fine individual moments and some excellent performances. But, in trying to cover too much ground, Mann never clearly establishes a compelling single story line, and doesn't spend enough time revealing the connection (pro and con) between Ali and the American public. Ali always kept you guessing. Was it real, or was it Ali performing for the cameras?As much as I enjoyed the boxing scenes, they probably did the most to drag the movie out too long....and I would have preferred more Liston and Frazier, and done Foreman only anecdotally. The same with his marriages....more anecdotally, since none of the relationships was really allowed to evolve on film (although it would have been a shame to miss Nona Gay, as wife Belinda; she was superb). Individual performances were striking, with Jon Voight in a career caricature as Howard Cosell, a tremendous performance by Jamie Foxx as Bundini, and brief but memorable cameos by Ron Silver and Giancarlo Esposito. And Will Smith? This was a really fine performance in a role that would have scared many actors. He truly studied his role and exacted everything he was capable of in the film. Was it worth an Academy Award nomination - I think not, but I now believe he's capable of making a real run for it in a future role.
Pound for pound, I preferred "The Hurricane"."
This is truely..... "The Greatest."
J. Long | Indiana United States | 04/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ALIThis film is everyhting you thought it would be and then some. I am 20 years old and did not have the plessure to live through the "Ali years." Although I have seen many sports documentaries and have read several books about the man, no one film or book captures the mythical essence of Ali as this movie does.It is true that it would have been nice to see the young years when Clay grew up in Louisville, KY (just 30 miles from me,) and competed in the Olympics for the gold medal. (Which he then tossed into the Ohio River.) But, this film is about the man, the myth, and the legend. When the film is viewed like this, it is more understandable.There are some of the most powerful moments in a "sports" film ever here. Being a serious fan of "Rudy," "Hoosiers," (I love Gene Hackman and I am from Indiana,) and "Rocky", I can say that the moment were Ali gets up out of the chair in the 8th to knock out Foreman after the now classic "rope a dope" form was used to wear him out is simplely uplifting. Is it correct to the actual event? No, I have the HBO DVD special to prove it. But it doesn't matter. Like I said, this film is about Ali, not the history of what Ali did.Some things that make this movie special: They really hit each other. No "Rocky" high uppercuts that don't even graze Mr. T or Apollo Creed. Jamie Foxx is a brillant actor and extremely funny. "I'm just a black jew who can't read or write and that's half drunk." The fact that Will Smith and his wife make a love scene covencing because they really and truely are IN LOVE!... Howard is played brillantly in this movie. You can't tell that it's an actor!... "And Foreman goes DOWN HARD to the mat!..." That call makes my spine tingle.The most powerful moment of all is when Malcom X is shot and killed. When I saw it in the theature, everyone was silent and teary-eyed. That may be the best thing about this movie and ultimately, Ali. Black, white, yellow, red, purple, you can fill things in this movie for the times they lived in, for the things they went through, and for Ali the man, the myth, the legend, himself.If you never see another movie about sports in your life, see this. Will Smith is stunning. He IS ALI for due purposes. The acting is great and the film as a whole is stunning. Just brillant........."