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Ali (2001)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Sport  |  25 December 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 74,656 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 379 user | 171 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A biography of sports legend, Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his days in the ring.



(story), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cassius Clay / Cassius X / Muhammad Ali


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 <kchishol@rogers.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Champ is here! See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

25 December 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Али  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$107,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,216,625 (USA) (21 December 2001)


$646,787 (Germany) (16 August 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Chicago's Northwest Armory, at 1551 North Kedzie Avenue, doubled as both New York's Audubon Ballroom backstage and Houston's induction center. The wall to the left as Malcolm X walks down the hallway moments before his death is the opposite side of the wall on the viewer's right when seeing Ali on the drill floor refusing induction. The wall at the end of the hallway and the door through which X walks were constructed for the film, as was the trim around the supply room doors along the side. Unusual for films, the travel through the induction sequence accurately depicts the same building's exterior and interior; the cars pull up in front of the armory on the Kedzie side, the actors walk through the Kedzie foyer, and onto the drill floor, consistent with the building's actual layout. The drill floor was also featured in the video for R. Kelly's 'I Believe I Can Fly'. See more »


Around 25:30 into the movie, Cassius Clay celebrates his victory over Sonny Liston by leaning over the ropes at the side of the ring, arms raised and yelling at the crowd. He has his mouth guard in and clearly visible from the side of his head. The film quickly cuts to a straight on shot, the mouth guard has disappeared and we see his teeth, his arms still raised above his head. See more »


Muhammad Ali: Man, without me, you'd just be a mouth and a microphone.
Howard Cosell: And without me, you'd just be a mouth.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


References Gidget (1965) See more »


You Send Me
(Sam Cooke Medley)
Written by Sam Cooke
Produced by Trevor Horn and Michael Mann
Performed by David Elliott
Published by Abkco Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Forget What You Think You Know
15 September 2002 | by (Hamilton, Australia) – See all my reviews

He ' floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee' and the world says he was the 'greatest'. Of course I am talking about Muhammad Ali, the world's most famous boxer. The movie to celebrate his life was an exceptional piece of cinematography. With an outstanding cast and hypnotic story, 'Ali' brings to life the controversial and popular boxer that we all love. This movie can be enjoyed by anyone, whether they like boxing or not.

The Champ Is Here! With wit and athletic genius, with defiant rage and inner grace, Muhammad Ali forever changed the American landscape. Fighting all comers, Ali took on the law, conventions, the status quo and the war - as well as the fists in front of him. Ali both ignited and mirrored the conflicts of his time and ours to become one of the most admired fighters in the world.

What an unbelievable role, by Hollywood superstar, Will Smith. He was fantastic in the role of Muhammad Ali. The work that he must have had to put into become 'Ali', would have been so grueling. I remember reading that Smith had to go through heavy amounts of boxing and weight training, to feel like a boxer, and then also look at Ali as a youngster from footage, and then become him. That he did, in only the way that Will Smith can. He was so good that the academy saw the role to be worthy of an academy award nomination. It was a shame that he did not win it.

The other roles in this film were also of a high quality. I found Jon Voight's role as the outlandish sports commentator, Howard Cosell, to be brilliant. At no stage can you pick that it is him. I am sure that what we see of Cosell, from Voight, is the true man of the time. It was also interesting to see Will Smith's real wife, Jada Pinkett, in the same movie. She was good as one of Muhammad's love interests.

The story to this film was interesting, as it had many fascinating facets to it. I found the way that we see Muhammad's interaction with the many women in his life to be written and portrayed well. I also enjoyed the way that Ali stood up for himself outside of the ring, with a poignant time in the film being when Cassius Clay rejects serving in the US army to fight in the Vietnam war. In addition to the fighting scenes that were interweaved brilliantly, to help balance this film's story. A lot of the praise must be given to the main man behind this film, director Michael Mann. He did an amazing job bringing 'Ali' to life. He was also a producer and a writer, so he had a big role in making 'Ali' the film it was.

Also having real boxers appear in this film, made the movie all the more enjoyable, as you believe the fighting is real. In fact the boxing scenes in this film, are of the finest quality. Will Smith put a lot of himself on the line, by really fighting as a boxer. He was up against fighters such as Malick Bowens, Michael Bentt, James Torney, Alfred Cole and Charles Shufford. I am certain that these men could pack a good punch, so Will was very willing to put his health on the line to make this film 'believable'.

I must make mention of what a personality Muhammad must have been. He was very opinionated, but also stood up for what he thought was true. I remember one comment about Ali being that he was 'a loud mouth', and that was so true. I mean the way that he must have fired up his opponents before a fight, by his blind arrogance is truly amazing. Again praise must be given to the way that Will Smith captured Ali's personality, to be really coming 'the greatest'. It is a shame that Muhammad's life has been affected by the horrible 'Parkinson's disease'. Yet I am sure that he is giving a great battle against this.

Ali is another film based on a true story, with a role that one performer makes his own. Smith is now in the class of actors such as Jim Carrey who became the crazy Andy Kaufman, Denzel Washington who became Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, the fine role taken on by Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, who became the controversial figure of Teena Brandon in 'Boys Don't Cry' and Julia Roberts, who was Erin Brockovich, in one of the best performances of her career. This role was great from Smith, as it can and will show many people of my generation how great a legend Ali really was and is. This movie gives us all an important lesson. That we can be anything we want, against adversary and for the only person who counts - that being you!

CMRS gives 'Ali': 4 (very good film)

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A naive question perhaps, but... Polygraph
Why did this movie cost $100,000,000? loophole41
Those Chinese guys thanking him.... edmond_yn
Nae of the song at the beginning bigk_wallace
Help with a song R.Kelly - Hold on filip-ng007
Probably the hugest piece of failed Oscar bait jkikianis
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