Ali

Ali

DVD - 2002
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Dramatic biography of boxing great Muhammad Ali, which focuses on the ten-year period of 1964-1974. In that time, the brash, motor-mouthed athlete quickly dominates his sport, meets and marries his first wife, converts to Islam (changing his name from Cassius Clay), and defies the United States government by refusing to submit to military conscription for duty in Vietnam. His world heavyweight champion title thus stripped from him entirely for political reasons, the champ sets about to win back his crown, culminating in a legendary unification bout against George Foreman in Zaire, dubbed the "Rumble in the Jungle."

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lukasevansherman
May 07, 2014

Few people are worthier of a biopic than Muhammed Ali, but the challenge is in depicting such an iconic figure. Director Michael Mann's film is ambitious, sometimes great, too long and a bit flawed. It kicks off strongly with the Ali-Liston fight and ends with the fabled Rumble in the Jungle (if you haven't seen the excellent doc "When We Were Kings," you should). In between we get boxing, of course, but also his family life, his friendship with Malcolm X (played by Mario Van Peebles), his conversion to Islam and his brave refusal to be drafted. His life is fascinating, but the film doesn't always find the right tone or approach. Will Smith, in one of his only real acting jobs, does a decent job, but doesn't really look like Ali or like a boxer. The supporting cast is really good and includes Jeffery Wright, Mrs. Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Gus from "Breaking Bad" and Jon Voight, who is uncanny as Howard Cosell. Despite its imperfections, it's worth watching.

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