Ali (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ali (2001)



Critic Consensus: 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.

Movie Info

Notoriously obsessive director Michael Mann and star Will Smith devoted nearly two years and over 100 million dollars from the coffers of Columbia Pictures and other financiers to creating this 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 (Jada Pinkett-Smith), 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 (Charles Shufford) in Zaire, dubbed the "Rumble in the Jungle." In his travels, Ali becomes a symbol of power to disenfranchised African-Americans everywhere and meets such luminaries as Malcolm X (Mario Van Peebles), Martin Luther King Jr. (LeVar Burton) and Maya Angelou (Martha Edgerton). Ali features an all-star supporting cast that includes Jon Voight, Giancarlo Esposito, Jamie Foxx, Nona Gaye, Michael Michele, Joe Morton, Paul Rodriguez, Ron Silver, Mykelti Williamson, and Jeffrey Wright.more
Rating: R (for some language and brief violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Michael Mann, Eric Roth, Christopher Wilkinson, Stephen J. Rivele
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 30, 2002
Box Office: $58.2M
Columbia Pictures - Official Site


Will Smith
as Cassius Clay/Muhamma...
Jon Voight
as Howard Cosell
Jamie Foxx
as Drew `Bundini' Brown
Ron Silver
as Angelo Dundee
Jeffrey Wright
as Howard Bingham
Nona Gaye
as Belinda
Joe Morton
as Chauncy Eskridge
Paul Rodriguez
as Dr. Ferdie Pacheco
Giancarlo Esposito
as Cassius Clay Sr.
Barry Shabaka Henley
as Herbert Muhammad
Laurence Mason
as Luis Sarria
Lawrence Mason
as Luis Sarria
LeVar Burton
as Martin Luther King J...
Albert Hall
as Elijah Muhammad
David Cubitt
as Robert Lipsyte
Ted Levine
as Joe Smiley
David Elliott
as Sam Cooke
Michael Bentt
as Sonny Liston
James Toney
as Joe Frazier
Alfred Cole
as Ernie Terrell
Charles Shufford
as George Foreman
Bruce McGill
as Bradley
James N. Toney
as Joe Frazier
Shari Watson
as Woman Singer
Malick Bowens
as Joseph Mobutu
Rufus Dorsey
as Floyd Paterson
Robert Sale
as Jerry Quarry
Vincent Cook
as Jimmy Ellis
David Haines
as Rudy Clay/Rahaman Al...
Victoria Dillard
as Betty Shabazz
Brad Greenquist
as Marlin Thomas
Morgana Van Peebles
as Malcolm X's daughter
Maya Van Peebles
as Malcolm X's daughter
Maestro Harrell
as Young Cassius Clay
William Utay
as The Doctor
Kim Robillard
as Jimmy Cannon
David Purdham
as Madison Square Garde...
Gailard Sartain
as Gordon Davidson
Wade Williams
as Lieutenant Jerome Cl...
Guy Van Swearingen
as Induction FBI man
Doug Hale
as Judge Ingraham
LaDonna Tittle
as Bundini's landlady
Marc Grapey
as Bob Arum
Herb Mitchell
as Boxing Commissioner
Eddie B. Smith
as Malcolm's Bodyguard
Bob Stuart
as Thomas Johnson
Patrick New
as Room Service Guy
Ron OJ Parson
as Death Newsman
Ellis E. Williams
as Family Photo Man
Alexandra Chun
as Asian Cosmetologist
David Prudham
as Madison Square Garde...
John G. Connolly
as Assistant Director
Jack Reiss
as Referee Arthur Merca...
Marty Denkin
as Frazier Flight II An...
Tamara Lynch
as Flight Attendant
Theron 'Chico' Benym...
as Hampton House Announ...
Bill Plaschke
as Miami Weigh-In Repor...
Steve Springer
as Miami Weigh-In Repor...
John Ortiz
as Madison Square Garde...
Robert Byrd
as Willie Reddick
Cedric Wills
as Jersey Joe Walcott, ...
Moses Hollins
as Man on Train
Daniel E. Gurevitz
as Boxing Commission Re...
Ray Bokhour
as Reporter
Leonard Termo
as Madison Square Garde...
Johnny Ortiz
as Madison Square Garde...
Mark Salem
as New York Reporter
Sheldon Fogel
as New York Reporter
Jim Gray
as New York Reporter
Billy Melvin Thomas
as Harlem Neighbor
Natalie Carter
as Harlem Neighbor
Reginald "Barshem" F...
as Harlem Neighbor
Poe Poe
as Harlem Reporter
Mel Dick
as Louisville Sponsorin...
Kim Coleman
as Lana Shabazz
Victor Manni
as Dressing Room Weigh-...
Will Gill Jr.
as Dick Sadler
Sylvaine Strike
as ORTF Interviewer
Denis Luposo
as Kinshasa Reporter
Sharon Wilkinson
as Rose Jennings
Carol Hatchett
as Pointer Sister
Judith Mwale
as Pointer Sister
Richard Katanga
as Mobutu Aide/Military...
Thomas Kariuki Mathe...
as Lieutenant Nsakala
Larry Hazzard Sr.
as Zack Clayton
Derrick Brown
as Larry Holmes
Rommel Hyacinth
as The Pilot
Daniel Janks
as CIA Man
Bradford E. Lang
as Black Pilot
Michael Dorn
as Black Pilot
Daniel J. Robbertse
as Reporter in Zaire
Graham Clarke
as Reporter in Zaire
Dimitri Cassar
as Reporter in Zaire
Frank Notaro
as Reporter in Zaire
Mark Mulder
as Reporter in Zaire
David Hess
as Reporter in Zaire
Nathaniel Malekane
as Archie Moore
Millard Arnold
as Doc Broadus
Edda Collier
as Blonde French Report...
Wei Yi Lu
as Chinese Delegate
Lee Cummings
as Hunter Thompson
Zaa Nkweta
as Foreman Fiight Annou...
Themba Gasa
as Idi Amin
Andrew P. Jones
as Don King's Aide
Marc Kulazite Mboli
as Additional Aide to M...
Cimanga Kalambay
as Additional Aide to M...
Jean Bikoi
as Additional Aide to M...
James Gilbert
as Sparring Partner in ...
Wade Andrew Williams
as Lieutenant Jerome Cl...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Ali

Critic Reviews for Ali

All Critics (165) | Top Critics (39)

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

Full Review… | October 3, 2002
L.A. Weekly
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 4, 2012
Matt's Movie Reviews

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

Full Review… | March 25, 2011
Turner Classic Movies Online

Brutal fight scenes and frank racial issues.

Full Review… | December 21, 2010
Common Sense Media

Mann vs. machine.

Full Review… | August 21, 2009

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.

Full Review… | June 26, 2009
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for Ali

This movie is probably Will smiths best movie. Will smith is a brilliant actor. He plays the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. I expected more of a boxing movie but it was more about religion and Alis life outside of boxing. Muhammad Ali was a Muslim and he worshiped Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad was the leader of nation of Islam, and Muhammad Ali wanted to spread hes message thru boxing. Muhammad Ali was a smart boxer, he made hes opponents angry before the match by teasing them and calling them names. This is a movie you probably have to see, probably one of my favorite movies. "Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. You're hands cant hit what you're eyes cant see" 4 Stars 4-7-14

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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.

Alex roy

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.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Ali Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)

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