An intimate and heart-warming look at the man behind the legend - as we've never seen Ali before. Told through exclusive, unprecedented access to Ali's personal archive of 'audio journals' combined with touching interviews and testimonials from his inner circle of family and friends, including his daughters, son, brother and former wife, plus legends of the boxing community including Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Gene Kilroy.Written by
When making a documentary about such a known figure as Muhammad Ali, the tough thing is trying to cover material that hasn't already been beaten to death. Fortunately, "I Am Ali" manages to do that, keeping the material fresh and looking at the subject matter from an angle I hadn't seen before.
The "gimmick", so to speak, of this documentary is that it releases a number of "audio journals" (phone conversations) between Ali and his family members. This shows a side of Ali not usually seen by the press or in his public life. It is more of a father talking to his children, and that is kind of neat to hear from such a legendary figure.
That being said, the journals are indeed kind of a "gimmick" in that they aren't used nearly as much as the trailer for this documentary would indicate. Instead, where this film really succeeds is in the wide range of people they talk to about Ali's life both in and out of the ring. This isn't just the "usual suspects", instead including such people as...
-Daughters Hana & Maryum, son Muhammad Jr., brother Rahman, and wife Veronica. -Celebrities Tom Jones & Jim Brown -Manager Gene Kilroy -Marvis Frazier (son of Joe Frazier) -Fellow pugilists George Foreman & Mike Tyson
All of these individuals share some of their unique experiences with Ali, providing stories spanning the emotional range from dramatic to romantic to comedic and everything in between. In this way, "I Am Ali" kind of follows the same format as previous documentary "Facing Ali" (which had many of Ali's opponents give their thoughts about The Greatest).
Overall, "I Am Ali" is a great documentary for casual boxing/Ali fans or those who already "know it all". It is a bit sympathetic to Ali's personal side (he was also a carouser and terribly used by the Muslim Brotherhood, but those topics are not brought up much), but that is excusable because it really wants to focus on Ali's relationships with certain key individuals sans politics. As a whole, this doc may not be quite as good as "Facing Ali", but it is still a five-star effort that accomplishes the difficult task of gleaning something new out of the Ali story.
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