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Ali (2001)



Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 149
Fresh: 100 | Rotten: 49

Though perhaps no film could fully do justice to the fascinating life and personality of Muhammad Ali, Mann's direction and Smith's performance combine to pack a solid punch.


Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 9

Though perhaps no film could fully do justice to the fascinating life and personality of Muhammad Ali, Mann's direction and Smith's performance combine to pack a solid punch.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 106,140

My Rating

Movie Info

The life story of heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, following the champ's early days as Cassius Clay and his rise in sports and politics, including his controversial refusal to fight in the Vietnam War and his infamous comeback battles against Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

Apr 30, 2002


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All Critics (165) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (100) | Rotten (49) | DVD (40)

The film gives Ali his due by refusing to idealize him or to gloss over his failings.

October 3, 2002 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ali is a far more complex creature than this movie allows for.

January 22, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is well-intentioned, sketchy, sprawling and unremarkable. At two hours and 38 minutes, it is also long-winded and exhausting.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This could be the only movie we'll get on the fighter, and it's just not good enough.

January 8, 2002 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's the boxer you enjoy, not the sluggish 15 rounds the filmmakers put him through.

January 6, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's good -- but Ali himself was the greatest. So a reluctant, kind of mild thumbs up for this.

January 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While making a great looking biopic that is filled with detail, Michal Mann forgot to make a film that entertains, creating an emotionally void, tone flat portrait of an athlete whose contribution socially and culturally has yet to be matched.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

You can almost see him thinking his way through his fights...

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

Brutal fight scenes and frank racial issues.

December 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

More than competently mounted, with a hollowness just discernible in its core... feels like the first draft of whatever film Michael Mann set out to make.

June 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The challenge of dramatizing the celeb's life is only partially met nby Mann in this flawed biopic that narrowly focuses one one decade (1964-74), while gliding over Ali's private life and negletcing crucial aspects of his turbulent yet fascinating life.

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Smith, who has a well-developed ego of his own, not only looks like the young Ali but also sounds like the brash Louisville Lip.

June 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Smith's transformation is nothing less than astounding.

January 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

No matter how good Smith and the other actors are, they seem at times dwarfed by the movie itself.

May 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Gurus

Ali contains much information, lots of emotional depth, and a triumphant performance by Smith, but its dragging pace and tendency toward digression often seem to work against its good intentions.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Mann has emerged with only a few cuts and bruises, while Smith, to paraphrase his character, hasn't a mark.

January 23, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Mann's Ali is too concerned with cramming all of the benchmarks of his career into three hours to take the time to understand the true joy and compassion of the man.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Michael Mann reminds us why Muhammad Ali was the greatest -- inside and outside the ring -- in 2001's best film.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

A 154-minute film that is both too much and not enough -- too much boxing, too many hours to sit, and too few connections.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Exhilarating, stylish, intelligent historical drama.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Mann gets most of the basics right but doesn't quite capture Ali's soul or spiritual growth and commitment.

October 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Michael Mann's Muhammad Ali film is not only a terrific biography of one of the 20th century's most important sports figures, it could well be the finest boxing movie ever made.

September 13, 2002

A clothesline rundown of Muhammed Ali's preoccupied with realism, it neglects to have a thesis.

September 1, 2002 Full Review

Full of abstractions that are sometimes distractions... the film's structured schizophrenia, if occasionally wayward, still bears some undeniably tremendous fruit.

August 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Entertainment Today
Entertainment Today

Audience Reviews for Ali

Michael Mann's Ali is an average boxing film about the Muhammad Ali, one of the most famous boxers who has ever lived. Unfortunately, I felt that this film wasn't a testament to his career, and though good, it leaves a lot to be desired. Will Smith is pretty goods ion the lead role, and he departs from his usual action films by delivering a dramatic performance. However, this is not a standout feature like Scorsese's classic Raging Bull. Mann is able to craft some terrific films, however this is one of his weaker one. Considering the subject, you'd expect something truly great, but the end result is a film that has plenty of flaws. I liked it, but I felt that it could have been much better than what was filmed. Will Smith is for me, a decent actor, and with this film, was his first real dramatic role, as he was more of an action star in the first place. He would later make better dramatic films, but Ali leaves a lot to be desired, especially considering that the subject is about one of the most famous boxers in the history of the sport. This should have been much better and it is one of those films that never realizes its full potential. The script should have been reworked to make it a much better picture that told a truly engaging story. Ali is an average film that never really satisfies. I feel that the ultimate biopic on Muhammad Ali has yet to be made. Michael Mann has made better films, but as it is Ali is good, but is far from a great picture.
November 18, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This biopic concentrates on the period between Muhammad Ali gaining the heavyweight championship of the world as Cassius Clay, through to when regained it at the "Rumble In The Jungle" ten years later. Will Smith (minus the face fuzz) was the obvious and perfect casting choice for a charming, charismatic motor-mouth and he is completely believable as the legendary fighter, but he is also surrounded by a supporting cast who are all knockout themselves; particularly an unrecognisable Jon Voigt as the sportscaster and long time friend Howard Cosell, Jamie Foxx as his junkie sidekick and even Mario Van Peebles proves he can actually act given the right material as Malcolm X. I would have liked to have seen more of the political climate during these years of the civil rights movement but Mann's visuals are as stylish as always and he finds a nice balance between the man's sporting and personal lives. Ali may not be perfect (those with no interest in boxing will no doubt be left cold) but it is a fitting testament to a sporting icon who was not only incredibly gifted, but also a true role model and ambassador for his sport.
February 28, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Smith has a tough role to tackle with Ali, but he does a tremendous job with it. Solid.
September 30, 2011
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

The Champ is here!

Good movie and terrific acting by Will Smith as Muhammad Ali, he really deserved his 2002 nomination for best actor oscar. They story to me was very different and religious and tedious and wasn't that interesting as I would have like it to be but it was decent enough. The supporting cast wasn't so supportive I think that was key for this movie's road to greatness. I love sport films including boxing one's but this one didn't really capture my full attention and love. Boxing fights were pretty good I gotta admit.

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 favour 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 duty for himself, Ali refuses to submit on principle to cooperate in an unjust war for a racist nation that treated his people so poorly. The cost of that stand is high as he finds himself unable to legally box in his own country while his case is contested in court. What follows is a battle for a man who would sacrifice so much for what he believes in and a comeback that would cement his legend as one of the great sports figures of all time.
July 17, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

    1. Muhammad Ali: Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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