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3.6 out of 5 stars77
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 November 2005
In a cynical world where we seem to delight in finding fault with our political leaders and role models, Ali stands out as a truly legendary example of man against the system. George Bernard Shaw wrote, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
This film shows that Ali was far from reasonable. He made exacting demands of himself, which on occasion he fails to meet. Will Smith portrays Ali the legend with dignity and sensitivity, giving us an insight to the man, his motives, loves and hates. In an Oscar winning role, Will Smith becomes Ali and exudes the trademark charisma, strength and power that Ali was so famous for.
The film is touching showing our hero flaws and all: the difficult relationship with his father; the rise to early stardom; the fall from grace at the hands of the American Senate; and his remarkable come back to defeat the powerhouse George Foreman in the sensational Rumble in the Jungle.
The film, unlike many Hollywood productions, makes no attempt to romanticise the life of the greatest heavyweight champion the world has ever seen. Will Smith portrays a womanising Ali who appears to struggle with his Muslim beliefs, and yet is mindful of the Nation of Islam's hypocrisy that comes across in the film. There is also a hint of things to come when Ali confronts Don King following another successful defence of his heavyweight title.
Neither a love of boxing, Will Smith, or Ali are prerequisites for owning this film. It is a touching, inspirational and entertaining film that strives to remain historically accurate, whilst condensing some of Ali's brightest moments into the available viewing time. Funny, thrilling and emotionally engaging, the film is a must buy and an essential addition to any DVD collection.
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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2002
There some pretty challenging roles for an actor to play and trying to bring the energy and sheer presence of Muhammad Ali to the screen must rank with the toughest. Yet Smith handles the task admirably and lifts an otherwise ordinary film into reaching distance of an Oscar. Smith earned his second nomination for his portrayal of Ali in the defining decade of his life 1964-74 in which Ali bookends his conversion to Islam and his refusal to accept the draft, with title wins over Sonny Liston and George Foreman.
The film plays like a documentary and judged on this; it would be easy to recommend the Oscar winning "When We Were Kings" - after all,if you want Ali, why not get the real one. Smith, who trained for a year to pack on the weight and to look convincing as a fighter is electric in the scenes when he does the former champ off to a tee in both his looks and diction - his interviews with a straight-faced Howard Cosell (Jon Voigt)are vintage stuff, with the spontaniety of a genuine ad-libber. In the quieter moments he struggles a little bit, almost as though he is moving from Ali setpiece to Ali set piece. You'll definitely watch this for performance if not content
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on 7 November 2008
This is a decent movie, but not what I expected. The acting and everything regarding the production is good but its the portayal of Ali himself that annoys me. Sure, they show his couragousness, his bravery, his greatness in the ring .... but where is Ali's legendary witt and sense of humour, its simply not there. The most noteable thing about Ali, when watching the interviews he conducted at that time, was his humour, his wit and his sense of fun .... none of that is present in this movie. Instead they portray Ali as a quite subdued and softly spoken individual with none of the personality. Its not Will Smith's fault as he turns in a quality performance ... but the film doesnt capture the man himself and not as we knew him. Obviously there was a lot more to Ali's character than that, but to completely ignore that large side of this character was a poor move.

What also annoys me, is that the film only concentrates on a small section of his career. Where was the second and third fights with Frazier? Where was Ken Norton? Having the film climax with the George Forman fight was a bad move .... unless they were planning a sequel, which as far as I know they are not.

Although this was a decent movie, it was still a dissapointment for this fan of films, boxing and Ali himself.
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on 24 June 2016
I love Michael Mann's films, but had always avoided this, partly because I don't like Will Smith and partly because of the mixed reviews it garnered at the time. Movies like this in the past have often fallen flat despite the best efforts of the great people working on them. As black man I also feared the whitewashing of his story. For all these reasons I stayed away from it. The Prince Charles Cinema in London has currently got a Michael Mann Season on and I couldn't pass up the chance to finally watch it on the big screen. I went with my brother who rates the film and who has read one of the main the biographies on Ali.
Having seen it in a dark theatre I have to conclude that this is right up there with Mann's best. No doubt pushed by the famously exacting demands of Mann, Smith is great as Ali...he really becomes him. However his is not the only great performance, John Voigt as Ali's commentator buddy (with whom he exchanges some brilliantly funny banter), Jamie Foxx as his parasite corner man (surely one the best performances of his career), Mario van Peebles turns in a performance as Malcolm X which is just as good as Smith' is of Ali.
Then there is the way the film is made. In the first fight with Liston, you really fear for Ali. The camera angles, shots of Ali/Smith's dancing feet on the canvas various verbal exchanges. This is Mann's characteristically flamboyantly efficient storytelling at it's best. Mann covers a lot of ground and illustrates some profound ideas in relation to Ali's life-story (such as the idea that while he was isolated in America, even among friends and colleagues, the African people were with him the whole time and they gave him the strength to beat Foreman. Those who have reviewed the film negatively (including Roger Ebert)..I honestly don't know what they watched. Then there is the sheer scale of it all, culminating in Ali' Zaire fight with Foreman. Surely the only experience comparable to this would have been actually being there at the time.
Sure it's eulogistic. Ali's problematic relationships with his wives is lightly touched upon and his controversial Nation of Islam views are alluded to, but to his credit (and unsurprisingly to be frank) Mann realised that this things shouldn't overshadow one of the truly great men of the 20th century. I feel that lots of people couldn't stomach Ali and the fact that lots of people can't stomach this film seems right. At his funeral Dr Kevin Cosby scratched at the scar that is Ali's residual polarisation. The film shows how Ali polarised people due to the courage of his convictions and that ultimately this courage is what made him great
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on 25 January 2015
This is a very good portrayal of Ali from Will Smith. He shows his charisma and charm and manages to capture the character of the greatest. The film finishes with the 'Rumble in the Jungle', arguably the biggest fight of Ali's career. This is well worth watching, despite the fact that it glosses over some of the more controversial parts of Ali's past, such as the very strong views that he held in his early days with the nation of Islam. This is a very enjoyable film however and a must watch for all boxing and Ali fans.
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on 26 October 2013
You forget it is Will Smith and believe it is Ali himself, really enjoyable and a good précis of his fighting career
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on 16 September 2004
Despite not being much of a Will Smith, Muhammed Ali, or even much of a boxing fan, I was drawn to this film. Perhaps that was down to good advertising!
But the film over all is a good one. Smith is outstanding. He has captured the Ali confident persona that he is reknowned for and has all the mannerisms to a tee.
The film focuses specifically on the Vietnam issue that surrounded Ali's career, and despite having to grasp the politics surrounding the issue, maintains entertainment for the audience and manages to avoid boring the audience, who more than likely know Ali as the invincible boxer.
What keeps the audiences attention is Smiths performance, as I have said, he besically IS Ali and is very lively and carries the film through the politics.
All in all a good film, long, and I don't do long films, but it's long but it held my attention and Smiths performance is worth it.
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on 22 April 2016
Will Smith does a great job to capture the personality of the iconic boxer in this biography of his career. It captures the razzmatazz atmosphere of the 60’s and 70’s boxing matches when many more watched than do now. It also illustrates how brutal the boxing matches were. What a shame that Ali was prevented from boxing for three years whilst he was in his prime.
I wanted to hear some more of Ali’s famous witticisms which are in there, but there are long distances between them. It is a slightly muted film in tone and is too long; I thought the extended musical displays quite irritating and irrelevant. I also struggled at times, with hearing what the characters were saying as there are no sub titles. This was in part due to the loud back ground music.
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on 11 March 2013
will smith playes the part really well in fact he is the perfect actor for this he rattles off the old ali rhymes spot on the action in the ring is convincing and the emotional side of ali is beliveable to.well worth a watch.
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on 14 November 2015
Michael Manns telling of the period between Ali winning the title from Liston in 1964 and regaining the title from Foreman in 1974. I think you need some prior knowledge of Ali to fully appreciate the film and understand how many years this film covers. The fight scenes are put together brilliantly, especially the rumble in the jungle at the films climax. Will smiths performance as the great man is spot on, he nails the walk, the talk, the attitude, everything!
My only negative feeling about this film is that some of the dialogue is really really quiet, but this is almost a feature in Michael Mann films.
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