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 <email@example.com>
As the project lay in "development hell" for more than a decade, several directors attempted to make the film until Michael Mann was finally chosen. The list included: Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, and Norman Jewison. Oliver Stone was commissioned as the project's director at one point. Stone's very first choice for the role of Muhammad Ali was Denzel Washington. However, when Washington signed on to another boxer biopic, The Hurricane (1999), Stone opted to instead make Any Given Sunday (1999). "The Hurricane" was made by Norman Jewison in the end. Spike Lee had previously directed Denzel Washington (Stone's original choice for Ali when he was in talks to direct) in the movie Malcolm X. See more »
When Ali is jogging in the very first scene, there's an '87 Taurus in the background, and a '90s vintage car in the carport. See more »
Are you prepared to apologize about your un-patriotic remarks about the war?
No? You say you are the people's champion.
Do you think you're acting like you're the people's champion?
Yes, sir. I am not going to apologize to you. This is not a courtroom and I do not have to sit here and answer your questions.
[he gets up and leaves]
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In the opening credits, as the main title fades away the A of Ali lasts a little longer than the other two letters. 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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