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 Americans in sport with his proud public self 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 ... Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The poem Ali recites to Howard Cosell about an imaginary fight between himself and Joe Frazier is actually from a spoken-word album he recorded before his first Sonny Liston fight. The recording included the line, "The crowd never knew when they put down their money/That they'd see a total eclipse of the Sonny." See more »
In scenes from the 1960s, Howard Cosell is depicted wearing a hairpiece. Cosell didn't start wearing a hairpiece until the early '70s, prior to which he slicked back his receding hairline. See more »
Hey, you think it's about time for a hairpiece?
Drew 'Bundini' Brown:
What you talking 'bout a hairpiece for? You already done lost all your hair, you cueball headed motherfucker.
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The Columbia Pictures logo rolls backwards. See more »
A certain kind of critical response kept me away from this film when it was in theatrical release, and I should have known better! Michael Mann is one of the most original storytellers working in film today, and his sensibility is absolutely in sync with his subject here. Muhammad Ali always did it his way, and from the brilliant opening sequence (which breaks all kinds of rules of time and space) to the last scene, that's what Mann does, and with great style, as ever. Of course if an audience demands a literal drama, they might not catch the poetry Mann and his team create with sound and picture. Will Smith is outstanding as Ali, vocally and visually, Jon Voight is a unbelievably convincing Howard Cosell, and Mario Van Peebles is subtle and moving as Malcom X.
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