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Thrilla in Manila (2008)

A filmed recounting of the final championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975.



2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marvis Frazier ...
Thomas Hauser ...
Himself (archive footage)
Ronnie Nathanielz ...
Ferdie Pacheco ...
Ferdinand Marcos ...
Himself (archive footage)
Imelda Marcos ...
David Wolf ...
Himself - Frazier's Camp
Butch Lewis ...
Buster Mathis ...
Himself (archive footage)
Stanley R. Hochman ...
Himself - Philadelphia Inquirer
Sunni Khalid ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


On October 1, 1975, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali was in the ring with his arch rival Joe Frazier for the third time. This fight in the Philippines, which has been nicknamed "Thrilla in Manila," is considered one of the most dramatic boxing matches in history - in the words of the voice-over, "They hated each other." With the help of archive material and eyewitness accounts (including Imelda Marcos), this documentary not only reconstructs the match, but shows us what was happening behind the scenes as well. Written by International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

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Documentary | Sport

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Release Date:

11 November 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Frazier vastaan Ali  »

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User Reviews

Thrilla in Manila... Butterfly Of Doom
7 June 2009 | by See all my reviews

Thrilla in Manila: 8 out of 10: This is what great documentaries are all about, changing ones perception by teaching something new. Thrilla in Manila also has that British tradition of targeting the preconceived notion without remorse. The sacred cow in target this time is that American icon Muhammad Ali. The film uses Ali’s only real nemesis Joe Frazier as its tool.

Thrilla opens up in North Philadelphia in a dilapidated gym in the midst of a ghetto where Joe Frazier lives and works. My first thought was what happened? My second thought; so this where Sly Stallone cribbed his last six Rocky movies; I loved the last Rocky Balboa film but thought Stallone’s characters borderline poverty lifestyle unrealistic… I clearly stand corrected.

The film does an excellent job finding relevant interviews with everyone from Imelda Marcos to Ali’s fight doctor. In addition the movie integrates the fight footage in a way few documentaries have (You can feel the heat of Manila in the ring).

This film asks a simple question. Why is Muhammad Ali rich, famous, and beloved? While Joe Frazier toils in poverty? The film then paints Ali in a most unflattering light. Claiming he is a racist and a member of a cult. All of this is very well documented, with Ali discussing his own participation in Ku Klux Klan meetings a real revelation. Ali is shown attacking Joe for being too black and strangely enough an Uncle Tom of all things. In addition, Ali is shown calling Joe ignorant, ugly and a gorilla.

Ali is clearly the villain in this piece and Frazier is the victim. Yet a strange thing happens over the hour and a half. The more Frazier brags on how his punches caused Ali’s current mental and physical state one cannot help but wonder that Ali’s blows caused as much permanent damage to Frasier in the form of bitterness and self-destruction.

Here is a film giving Frazier a chance to display his own self in a good light and pull himself and his family out of poverty. Instead, he comments, while watching Ali light the Olympic torch that he wished Muhammad would fall in and burn to death. Ali’s doctor got one thing right; Joe Frazier is a stupid man.

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