6.8/10
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Ali (2001)

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2:28 | Trailer
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 »
Reviews
Popularity
4,872 ( 1,075)
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 / 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
Nona Gaye ... Belinda Ali
Michael Michele ... Veronica Porche
Joe Morton ... Chauncey Eskridge
Paul Rodriguez ... Dr. Ferdie Pacheco
Bruce McGill ... Bradley
Barry Shabaka Henley ... Herbert Muhammad
Giancarlo Esposito ... Cassius 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:

Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Chicago's Northwest Armory, at 1551 North Kedzie Avenue, doubled as both New York City'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 right when Ali is 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. 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. See more »

Goofs

When Ali starts to run in the streets of Kinshasa, a kid in the background has a modern microscooter. See more »

Quotes

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.: [to Ali] I need to talk to you!
Muhammad Ali: You can stay, Brother Herbert.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.: Brother? He ain't your brother! Your brother's taking your wife back to Chicago! She crying like a widow!
Muhammad Ali: Yeah, well I ain't dead!
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.: Well you may as well be! You don't remember your name or who you are!
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Crazy Credits

The Columbia Pictures logo rolls backwards. See more »

Alternate Versions

A Director's Cut was released on DVD in North America on June 1st, 2004. The runtime of the film is approximately 8 minutes longer at around 165 minutes, but the changes are more significant than it seems: Director Michael Mann deleted about 5 minutes of footage and put 14 minutes of new material in. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

It's All Right
(Sam Cooke Medley)
Written by Sam Cooke
Produced by Trevor Horn and Michael Mann
Performed by David Elliott
Published by Abkco Music, Inc.
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User Reviews

Forget What You Think You Know
15 September 2002 | by Old JoeSee 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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Details

Official Sites:

Sony [DVD] [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Swahili

Release Date:

25 December 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ali See more »

Filming Locations:

Ghana See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$107,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,710,892, 30 December 2001

Gross USA:

$58,203,105

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$87,812,729
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color | Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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