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A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.

Director:

Michael Mann

Writers:

Gregory Allen Howard (story), Stephen J. Rivele (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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4,409 ( 57)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Will Smith ... Cassius Clay / Cassius X / Muhammad Ali
Jamie Foxx ... Drew 'Bundini' Brown
Jon Voight ... Howard Cosell
Mario Van Peebles ... Malcolm X
Ron Silver ... Angelo Dundee
Jeffrey Wright ... Howard Bingham
Mykelti Williamson ... Don King
Jada Pinkett Smith ... Sonji Roi
Nona Gaye ... Belinda Ali
Michael Michele ... Veronica Porche
Joe Morton ... Chauncey Eskridge
Paul Rodriguez ... Dr. Ferdie Pacheco
Bruce McGill ... Bradley
Barry Shabaka Henley ... Jabir Herbert Muhammad
Giancarlo Esposito ... Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.
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Storyline

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 favor 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

Taglines:

The Champ is here! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony [DVD] [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Swahili

Release Date:

25 December 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Али See more »

Filming Locations:

Ghana See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$107,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,216,625, 23 December 2001, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$58,203,105

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$29,510,720
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 (1999) 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 Malcolm X (1992). See more »

Goofs

Early reference to Ali's argument and Angelos not being in Ali's corner were errors. It was Belinda who confronted Ali about Veronica Porche.. And it was the Jimmy Ellis fight the Dundee didn't assist Ali. Dundee trained both as Ellis was Ali's sparring partner. See more »

Quotes

Drew 'Bundini' Brown: Now I'm Jewish and he's Muslim, and because of that he tells me I need to give up certain things, like pork and white women... I can give up the Pork, but the white women? God Damn, how the hell do you do that?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Columbia Pictures logo rolls backwards. See more »

Connections

References Bewitched (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Dreams
Written and Performed by Shenkar 'n' Caroline
Courtesy of Lollipop/Real World Records Ltd.
Published by Ganesh Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Solid performances, but there was definitely missed potential here
18 January 2015 | by jimbo-53-186511See all my reviews

The first thing that I am prepared to acknowledge is Will Smith's performance in this film; he was impressive and seemed to really get into the character of Ali. Although his acting was excellent in this film, I don't believe that he should have been Oscar nominated. Likewise, Foxx and several of the supporting characters were also excellent. The film was also well-shot and generally well-made and from a technical aspect it was a fairly polished product. Unfortunately, that's where the praise for this film ends....

For me there was far too much time spent on dull aspects of Ali's life such as Ali's various relationships - this aspect of his life got way too much focus and it did, at times, make the film feel like an over-long combination of melodrama and soap opera. At the same time, other potentially more interesting or important areas seemed to either have been ignored or glossed over - there's very little focus on Ali's training, no real mention of his family. Considering the film is over 2 and a half hours long I expected there to be a reasonable amount of boxing and/or training, but we're probably treated to about 30 minutes of boxing (if that) and then 2 hours of melodrama and soap opera. I'm sure a lot of what I describe as 'melodrama' and 'soap opera' type events did occur in Ali's life, but these elements don't make for an entertaining film and should have been kept to a minimum.

All of the above isn't helped by the fact that the screenplay felt like it was put together in a haphazard way - the writers would shift from one aspect of Ali's life to another in quick succession barely giving you chance to digest what you've just seen.

Although from a technical perspective this film was generally well put together and polished I did feel that the camera work during the boxing matches was pretty poor and as a result I didn't feel quite as involved in the action as I did when I've watched other boxing films. This came as a really big disappointment when you consider how poor many other elements of the film were.

Aside from the great performances, there really isn't much else going for this film. My feeling are that it was an over-long soap opera with a bit of boxing thrown in here and there. If you want to see a good boxing biopic then I would recommend Cinderella Man. Muhammad Ali may be the Greatest, but this film certainly isn't.


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