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Will Smith has been nominated for Image Award 2002 and for Golden Globe!

Ali Movie Trailer
Ali Teaser Trailer

Movie Clips
Official Site: Will Smith, Charles Shufford, and Micahel Mann (low res) †--†actors Will Smith and Charles Shufford watch the historic Ali-Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" on a monitor with director Michael Mann to help them duplicate the complicated choreography.
Official Site: Will Smith, Charles Shufford, and Micahel Mann (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Will Smith and Jon Voight (low res) †--†Will Smith and Jon Voight ad lib in character as Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell, recreating the chemistry the two men had and bringing down the house.
Official Site: Will Smith and Jon Voight (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Will Smith and Michael Mann (low res) †--†Will Smith fights in the ring as Ali with Michael Mann following the action.
Official Site: Will Smith and Michael Mann (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Will Smith and Michael Mann #2 (low res) †--†between takes, Michael Mann and Will Smith discuss the singular Ali ring strategy they're going to recreate on film.
Official Site: Will Smith and Michael Mann #2 (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Will Smith Stays in Character (low res) †--†between takes, Will Smith keeps himself in character and psyches himself up, by ad libbing as Ali.
Official Site: Will Smith Stays in Character (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Sugar Ray Leonard and Will Smith (low res) †--†the famous boxer and the famous actor spar.
Official Site: Sugar Ray Leonard and Will Smith (high res) †--†(see above)
Official Site: Will Smith (low res) †--†getting in shape to play Ali, Will Smith practices on the speed bag and shadowboxes.
Official Site: Will Smith (high res) †--†(see above)
Ali Clip (low res)
Ali Clip (high res)

Michael Bentt (Sonny Liston)
Malick Bowens (Mobutu)
Candy Ann Brown (Odessa Clay-Ali's Mother)
David Cubitt (Lipsyte)
James Currie (III) (Court Room Photographer)
Martha Edgerton (Maya Angelou)
Giancarlo Esposito (Ali's Dad)
Sheldon Fogel (Reporter)
Ross Haines (News Cameraman)
Patrick New (Room Service Guy)
Al Quinn (Boxing Trainer)
Gailard Sartain (Gordon Davidson)
Charles Shufford (George Foreman)
James Toney (Joe Frasier)
Jack Truman (Reporter)
Wade Williams (II) (Lt Clairidge)

Release Dates
USA December 25 2001
UK January 11 2002
France February 27 2002
Belgium February 27 2002
Argentina February 28 2002
Netherlands March 07 2002
Belgium April 06 2002

Soundtrack BUY IT HERE!!!
1. R. Kelly - The World's Greatest
2. Alicia Keys - Fight
3. R. Kelly - Hold On
4. Al Green featuring Booker T and the MG's - A Change Is Gonna Come
5. Aretha Franklin - Ain't No Way
6. Bilal - Sometimes
7. Angie Stone - 20 Dollars
8. Truth Hurts - For You Precious Love
9. David Elliot - Bring It Home To Me
10. Everlast - The Greatest
11. Shawn Kane - Mistreated
12. Salif Keita - Tomorrow
13. The Watchflowers Four - All Along The Water Tower
14. Martin Tillman - Odessa
15. Lisa Gertrard and Pieter Bourke - See The Sun



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. Forget what you think you know. Behind Ali's seismic accomplishments, actor Will Smith and director/writer Michael Mann will take you into the heart and life of the boxer, the legend, and more importantly, the man.

Hey folks, Harry here with our second look at ALI. I have long been a believer that we needed an additional 25 years before this movie needed to be made. To get distance on the events surrounding ALI. Right now, nearly everything that Ali did was burned into my skull, and skulls of everyone older than me. However... I'm a huge fan of Michael Mann and his films. Will Smith has impressed me with his physical transformation, and I go into this film with the hope that Smith knocks me around the theater with his performance. HOWEVER, that first review that Moriarty posted worried me, in that it commented upon how we never really get to know how Ali felt about anything, never getting any further into him than we already are. That was the problem with the otherwise great, MAN ON THE MOON. Ultimately it was a film of mimickry not enlightenment. I'm still quite enthusiastic about the film... but hoping that it's more than mere recreation...
Hi Harry!

I just attended a screening of "Ali" directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith at the Pacific Lakewood Theater in Lakewood, California. I remember awhile back on this site when casting was first announced that there were some firmly in the camp who thought Smith wrong for the title role. Let me tell you right off he nails it. Smith will positively be nominated for an Oscar, mark my words. He might even win.

This hasn't been a great year thus far for American movies and performances. Well, "Ali" is of a quality film lovers have been pining for around the corner as the fall season approaches. It's not a flawless film, however. We were informed that the screening was its first public one ever, and then heard the usual disclaimers about the print: certain minor optical effects were yet to added, the music was temporary, titles were tentative, etc.

I pretty much knew going in that as a bio-pic "Ali" would be a long movie, time-wise, and predicated on Mann's previous work like "Heat" and "The Insider," the director isn't one to shy away from length. The treatment here certainly deserves the clock, but "Ali" does need some obvious and not-so-obvious trimming at 2 ? + hours. The pacing lagged in spots. The difference will possibly mean a great film from a very good film. There's plenty of art in this film, moments of sheer beauty reflective of its maker's intelligence and ambition. There's also plenty of exposition problematic to the bio-pic genre that Mann doesn't quite sidestep. And Mann is also up against the terrific documentary "When We Were Kings" for what the story focuses upon in its final act. I've never seen Ali's own "The Greatest" so I can't say how much it factors in.

I was never too crazy about the casting of Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X, and I posted my reservations on this site in Talkback. Mario's no Denzel, lets face it. He's does better than I expected, although I still would've preferred another actor. The Malcolm X portion of the film needs trimming, moreover, and even at times felt derivative of Spike Lee's take on the character. Even more distracting was the choice of the song "A Change Is Going To Come" during a critical scene involving Malcolm X that Lee used brilliantly, but here seemed especially derivative by comparison. I hope this tune, albeit great, was just part of the temporary sound track.

The movie has a terrific cast. Jamie Fox, playing against type, and Jon Voight as Howard Cosell (who'd have thought he'd be Jim Phelps, Roosevelt, and the sportscaster with the infamous toupee?),leave strong impressions; the usually incredible Jeffrey Wright isn't given much to work with as photographer Howard Bingham, and when he does have dialogue his delivery for some reason reminded me of his "Basquiat." Ali's women provide solid support, but this aspect of the film feels a bit attenuated. It's kind of cool to see Jada Pinkett as Ali's first wife, nevertheless. The woman who plays Ali's second wife does a fine job with her character, but her lines, like some written for the character of Malcolm X, have an expository feel to them. There's also an awkward jump cut where she and Ali are courting and then suddenly they are married and have a child.

I loved the way "Ali" opens, images of the boxer juxtaposed with a recreation of a nightclub performance by Sam Cooke that culminates in his excellent "Bring it On Home To Me" and the Liston-Clay bout. I hope Mann DOES NOT cut a single frame of this very long sequence. It's at once sublime and positively rapturous. I've been a big fan of Mann's since "Thief." And I would rate "Last Of The Mohicans" as the #3 film of the Nineties (#1 would be "Goodfellas," #2 "Pulp Fiction" - in case you were wondering). The opening sequence in Ali is among his best work. Just stunning. It really is the art that the rest of the film aspires to and frequently achieves. Good luck to Mann getting "Ali" out by Christmas. I'd say I'm in the film's corner.


Muhammed Ali may be the best known boxer in the history of the sport. A great wit as well as a great boxer, Ali first burst on the scene as Cassius Clay, who wrested the World Championship from Sonny Liston in an upset in 1964.

That's where Michael Mann's Ali starts, and it follows the next ten tumultous years of the man's life. We see the new champ formalize his ties with the Nation of Islam by changing his name to Muhammed Ali, his battle with the government after he refused to accept his draft induction, his hard times, and his slow rise back to the top at the Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Foreman.

We see the portrait of a fighter as a young man, making tough choices and mistakes, learning to stand for what he believes in, and never giving up. I tend to be wary of sports celebrities being heroes - ooh, he can run real fast? - but the movie makes the case that Ali's heroism took place outside the ring. A staunch battler for civil rights, a fierce individualist who would not let the Nation of Islam control him and a flawed man who tried to do his best, Ali is a great man worthy of a great movie.

And he almost gets one. Mann's Ali comes very close to greatness, but it's held back by passages that just drag. Twenty minutes of judicious editing could easily raise my rating of this movie a full point.

One thing that cannot be faulted in Ali is the acting. Every actor gives a performance that has to be seen to be believed. Jaime Foxx is wonderful as Ali's ringman Bundini. After this and Any Given Sunday, I think it's safe to say that if he avoids bad roles, he has a hell of a career ahead of him.

John Voight rehabilitates himself after his embarrassing turn as FDR in Pearl Harbor by playing another well known figure - Howard Cosell. Under a ton of makeup, Voight shines through in a minor but important role.

The biggest shock for me was Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X. Besides the stature of the man he was playing, Mario has to stand up to Denzel Washington's definitive performance, and he aquits himself nicely. You won't watch Spike Lee's Malcolm X and think of Mario, but you also won't spend Ali thinking about Denzel.

The big winner in all this is Will Smith. His Ali manages to evade being a caricature while capturing the essence of the man we have all seen on television. Smith's natural charisma makes him almost as likeable as the champ - it's his far too underused talent that makes him believable. This is an Oscar performance, and if Smith isn't on the short list at the ceremony, I may have to have a word with the Oscar voters.

Besides acting as Ali, Smith has to be believable as a boxer. He went through a year of training, and it paid off. Lithe and quick in the ring, Smith takes and delivers bone-crushing hits in what may be some of the best boxing sequences ever put to film. Utterly real and involving, Ali transcends to greatness during the fights.

Which makes the slow bits all the more painful. After getting off to a fitfuland episodic start, Ali finds its feet during the years that the boxer was persecuted for refusing to go to Vietnam. As he explains, Ali has no quarrel with the Vietnamese - "No Viet Cong ever called me nigger," he says, one of my all-time favorite quotes of the anti-war movement. As Ali weathers the blows from the government who tries to jail him, the promoters who won't book him, and the boxing commission that unjustly robs him of his World Champ title, the movie has explosive force.

The final act finds Ali back in boxing, preparing to take on the new World Champion, who is ten years younger than our hero. At a time when the movie should be exploding forward, we get bogged down in overlong training scenes and match delays. When the fight does come, the wait was worth it.

The final fight of the movie, Ali vs Foreman, is easily the best I have ever seen. Besides elegantly telegraphing the brutality and violence, Mann also lets us inside the strategies of the boxers, allowing us to get more involved in the fight than any of the straightforward slugfests we get in average boxing films.

Ali stings like a bee, but with it's pacing off in some parts, it doesn't float like a butterfly. In the end, it's a movie worth seeing, if only to marvel that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air has turned in the performance of the year.


Like most of the heavyweight boxing matches these days, "Ali" as a film doesnít measure up to the hype. Not even a pumped-up Will Smith can carry the weight of this walking, talking myth on his shoulders. At 2 and 1/2 hours, itís too long and yet it still doesn't tell you enough about its subject. How many times do you hear that complaint about a movie?

Writer-director Michael Mann is usually a master at digging down deep into the core of his characters' soul. However, in "Ali" he seems content to just explore Muhammad's public persona -- the boastful, boisterous icon -- instead of getting under his skin.

Part of the blame goes to Will Smith. As multi-talented as Smith is, there are limits to his skills as an actor. He tries hard, very hard, but Smith just isnít able to make you forget heís this big superstar playing a living legend. You just canít get past the fact that the Fresh Prince is playing The Greatest.

He does have his moments, though, like at the beginning of the film.

Amid a dazzling montage of music and motion -- and only a few words Ė we meet trainer Angelo Dundee (an unrecognizable Ron Silver), cornerman Carl Bundini (Jamie Foxx) and of course, Ali. Still known as Cassius Clay, heís training for his title shot against then-champion Sonny Liston. Sam Cook is playing his heart out at a tiny club, and Mann blends the stirring soul music and all the different images into a mesmerizing experience.

Itís the best part of the movie, and thatís never a good thing to say about the opening sequence.

The script focuses on the period between 1964-1974, when Cassius Clay becomes Muhammad Ali, , joins the Nation of Islam, refuses induction into the U.S. Army and is subsequently stripped of his heavyweight title.

The turning point is when Ali refuses to be drafted to fight the Vietnam War. It was his battle with the government over his draft status that helped spark his transformation from prize-fighting hero to a worldwide icon. It cost him the four best years of his boxing life, but that struggle to persevere made Muhammad Ö ALI.

In one scene, as a reporter asks him about his refusal to go fight the Viet Cong, Aliís answer is, why should I go fight those people? They never called me n-----!

Itís a stunning moment, full of raw anger, resentment and honesty. Thatís as close as the movie allows us to get to understanding what Ali was feeling at the time.

The movie seems to sidestep any opportunities to create some dramatic tension. Even when one of Aliís wives is confronting him about his infidelity, nothing really happens. It feels almost like a documentary on Aliís life at times, because it has such a static narrative feel to it. You almost forget this is the same directory who made "Thief" and "Heat."

Mann does hint that the Nation of Islam took advantage of Ali and his deep pockets, but he never follows through. Itís disappointing, considering he made "60 Minutes" reporter Mike Wallace look like a spineless sellout in "The Insider."

He did have no qualms painting boxing promoter Don King (Mykelti Williamson) as a slimy manipulator Ė then again, how else could you portray Don King? Still, itís surprising how he lets the Nation off the hook.

The supporting cast more than pulls its weight. Jon Voight does a complete transformation into Howard Cosell. Armed with a superb makeup job and a pitch-perfect voice, Voight brings the controversial sportscaster back to life. His scenes with Smith really illustrate how close Ali and Cosell really were in real life.

In front of a huge gathering of reporters before the Rumble In the Jungle against George Foreman in Zaire, Cosell asks Ali if he really thinks he stands a chance against his larger, younger opponent. In front of a huge crowd, here was Cosell, putting his friend on the spot. He looks almost shamed to have asked the question, but then Ali disarms the situation with a funny remark. He lets his friend off the hook, because he knew he was only doing his job.

Mario Van Peebles as Malcom X and Jamie Foxx as Ali's troubled cornerman give standout efforts. Van Peebles' portrayal of the slain civil rights leader is a revelation. For the first time, you see Malcom X as a tragic figure, trapped by the politics of the civil rights movement. Foxx, sporting a huge bald spot and beer belly, exhibits an acting range heís never shown in any of his previous movies.

The fight scenes are well-done and historically faithful. Some of Aliís most famous moments, like when heís standing over a downed Liston, taunting him, are recreated. Using dizzying camera work, Mann gives you a ringside seat to the show inside the ring.

Smith deserves kudos for his physical commitment to the part. Thereís a big difference between acting like a boxer, and becoming a boxer. After watching this film, one suspects that Mr. Smith can throw a wicked left-right combination.

Still, he canít save the picture. Donít get me wrong, "Ali" isnít a bad film, in fact, itís OK. But the bottom line is, the man everyone called ĎThe Greatestí deserves better than an OK picture.


Michael Mann's latest is a love-struck slow dance through Muhammad Ali's (Will Smith) life, a "greatest moments" procedural with style to burn. The film's opening soul gig toys with images from Ali's pre-political existence; the young boxer jogs despite taunts from white cops, Malcolm X's (Mario Van Peebles) shadow looming over the proceedings. Cassius Clay snags the heavyweight title, dons the Ali surname via Muslim Nation baptismal and soon becomes the "people's champ." The ABC Sports program hosted by Howard Cosell (John Voight) turns into Ali's boastful platform when the fighter takes jabs at everyone from Cosell's wife to his opponent's ugliness. Ali mouths off to Congress, defending his right not to fight in Vietnam. Ali is now the accidental freedom fighter, vigorously incendiary thanks to Smith's jiggy consumption of the real-life boxer's speech patterns and body movements. The Muslim Nation drops Ali when he loses a fight only to reinstate him once he regains the heavyweight title; Ali may call them on their crimes but he's still all about the benjamins. Mixing populist sentiment with spunky aplomb, Michael Mann is as great as Hollywood directors come nowadays. It's a bit of a surprise that Ali has made it to the big screen this quick considering the project's multiple rewrites and directorial game of musical chairs. Will Smith vies for artistic credibility as Muhammad Ali, a role that's likely to snag the megastar his first Oscar nomination. While Smith's acting chops may be less than stellar, he certainly has the ego to fill Ali's gloves. Smith recently told Playboy that Jada Pinkett Smith was lovin' the actor's newly sculpted body. Smith says, "'Cause being in great shape--I mean, I am a sexual machine now. Raring to go every second of the day. I'm human Viagra. I am Will-agra." Pinkett-Smith, the actor's second wife, stars in the film as Sonji Roi, Ali's first wife. (Note to Jada: um, congratulations.) Sony rolls out Ali on Christmas day, three weeks after its original release date of December 7th (where it would have faced just-as-stiff competition from Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11).


He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee except that isnít the Greatest boxing on the big screen. Itís an uncanny look alike in Will Smith who plays the infamous boxer in Michael Mannís biopic, Ali. The trailer alone does the subject justice giving us a look at the brash and larger than life athlete Muhammad Ali. Big, loud, teeming with drama in and out of the ring, this trailer also provides a compelling glimpse at Smithís breathtaking turn as the boxer. There are many scenes where you swear that the real Ali is onscreen so complete is Willís physical transformation. The performer looks to be in his element flipping between drama and humor portraying the many sides of the complex fighter. Jon Voight also turns up in some serious prosthetics portraying sportscaster Howard Cosell, which looks to be worth the price of admission alone.

Michael Mann is an incredible director and with the right talent (as with The Insider) he achieves excellence. This perfectly paced and adrenaline-pumping look at Ali leaves you wanting oh, so much more.



Rated: R

Will Smith as Muhammad Ali
Jamie Foxx as Drew 'Bundini' Brown
Jon Voight as Howard Cosell
Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X
Ron Silver as Angelo Dundee
Jeffrey Wright as Howard Bingham
Mykelti Williamson as Don King
Jada Pinkett-Smith as Sonji Clay
Michael Bentt as Sonny Liston
Giancarlo Esposito as Ali's Dad
Michael Michele as Victoria Porche
Paul Rodriguez as Ferdie Pacheco
Charles Shufford as George Foreman
James Toney as Joe Frasier

Reviewed By: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 8 of 10

Summary: An interesting look into the life of boxer Muhammad Ali with a wonderful performance by Will Smith.

Ali is based on the early career of boxer Muhammad Ali. The movie starts out following him as he wins the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston. Featured are his friendship to Malcolm X, his conversion to Islam, and fast rise to stardom. Of course his perfection of the art of trash talking in rhyme is focused on, too. The film highlights two of his early marriages (he had 4) and his fall from the spotlight when he refused to be drafted to fight in Vietnam. From being broke and outcast, Ali fights his way back to retake the title in a fight with George Foreman in the famous ĎRumble in the Jungleí in Zaire. ĎAlií follows the highs and lows of the boxer and shows just how he became a legend.

Ali is rated R for some language and brief violence.

What Worked:
One of the most memorable things about this film is the transformation of Will Smith. He not only perfectly imitates Muhammad Aliís trash talking and mannerisms, but he bulks up to actually have the physique of the boxer. Based on seeing The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, you never in a million years would have thought he could pull off this role, but he does so convincingly. In reality, Will Smith and Ali have similar personalities, so he was a great choice to play him. Smith handles himself well in the action scenes in the ring along with the dramatic scenes elsewhere.

Going into this film, I didnít know much about Muhammad Ali beyond his public persona. This film goes a bit deeper into who the man is. It was interesting to see how the Islamic religious leaders used him as a tool. I didnít know Ali had been so close with Malcolm X. I also didnít realize that Ali and Don King didnít seem to get along all that well. It was also interesting to see how Ali would make fun of people in public, but they were close friends in private. He would call Joe Frasier ugly in front of the press, but then theyíd help each other out behind the scenes. Itís amazing how Ali was able to put on a good show for both the media and his fans inside and outside the ring.

Some of the best scenes in the film are between Howard Cosell and Ali. They have some really hilarious exchanges that lighten the otherwise dramatic tone of the movie. The one-liners Ali spouts are priceless and while Cosell generally plays the straight man, he occasionally fires back some classics himself. Jon Voight gets an amazing amount of help from tons of prosthetics on his face. He looks about as much like Cosell as you could hope for.

The rest of the supporting cast does a fine job. Jamie Foxx is funny as Aliís black Jewish boxing coach. It also turns out that he was the inspiration for a lot of Aliís rhymes. The soundtrack is also first rate with a bit of Motown, hippie music, and even African sounding music to supplement the shots in Zaire.

What Didn't Work:
This film really needed to get the mini-series treatment. 2 Ĺ hours is simply not enough to cover the life of Ali. Gone are any mentions of his battle with Parkinsonís disease, his daughter becoming a boxer, his later meetings with George Foreman, his early years, etc etc etc. A lot of the interesting stuff is left out. There was no choice due to the running time, but it would have been nice to see it covered. Maybe in Ali 2. (Just kidding.)

As it is, the film feels somewhat disjointed. It skips around in time so much that you have a hard time figuring out what year it is. In one scene heíll just be meeting a girl, then the next minute theyíll be married and have a daughter. Levar Burton is also shown as Martin Luther King Jr. However, his role ends up being reduced to an image on a TV and a photo in the newspaper. Thatís it. It really seemed like something got cut. I wonder how much more was cut out, too.

This is also a ďwarts and allĒ type film. Youíll either walk away respecting Ali more or finding him all too human. Heís shown as a devout Muslim in the film, but heís also shown cheating on his loving wife. Itís sad to see, but an important part of the story to tell.

The movie does get slow a few times. For example, director Michael Mann seemed to like long, lingering shots of characters. Once scene was just a shot of a woman singing a song for what felt like a minute straight. She had nothing to do with the story beyond being background music, yet precious screentime was spent on her. Other scenes had a similar feel of slowing down the story. Quite a bit of time was also spent on Malcolm X though it wasnít his film.

Overall, Ali is a first rate film that is well made and has an excellent cast. You can really tell it was a labor of love for all involved.

Added: December 16th 2001
Reviewer: Scott Chitwood


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The Fresh Prince on taking his punches, making love and sparring with Michael Mann
Making "Ali:" Will Smith Inhabits the Role
Will Smith: I didn't want to be Ali
'Ali's' L.A. Premiere!
Will Smith Gives a Knockout Performance
Will Smith on Playing Muhammed Ali
Interview with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
Taking on Ali
Ali: The Book