5 Favorite Muhammad Ali Films

Saturday, June 11, 2016

5 Best Muhammad Ali Movies

Boxing great Muhammad Ali was more than just a sports legend; he was a hero for civil rights around the world. His life also inspired several films. Which of these Ali-inspired movies is your favorite? Which would you most like to see?

Ali (2001)

5 Favorite Muhammad Ali FilmsThe cast is very strong. Will Smith gives a fine performance wonderfully recasting Ali's wonderful facial expressions, gestures, physical style and speech pattern, Jamie Foxx, Ron Silver and Mario Van Peebles are all excellent in their supporting roles. And the boxers are all very believable. They even look like the people they play. Smith doesn't really look anything like Ali, and you are occasionally aware (mainly through Smith's imitation of the greatest's very unique speech) that you are watching an imitation, but this does not in any way detract from the film.

When We Were Kings (1996)

5 Favorite Muhammad Ali FilmsThe film does show us a little of this complex even contradictory man. Veronica Porsche confirms that she was seeing Ali while he was still married. He had children from many women but wanted his kids to know each other and seems to have maintained good relationships with his ex wives.

There is good use of soul music, it is good to hear from members of his family, past and present as well as other celebrities. It is not ground breaking but a good introduction of Ali.

I Am Ali (2014)

5 Favorite Muhammad Ali Films
First I must say that the editing is some of the best I have seen.WOW is the right world for this film.I have seen it four times and still I think it´s as interesting as the first time you see it.Muhammad Ali is really a genius and I think you will understand that when you see this film.The film is also very good because of people like Spike Lee,Malick Bowens and George Plimpton tells fascinating observations about the time.

The Greatest (1977)

5 Favorite Muhammad Ali FilmsMaybe the producers of this film thought it would be highly original to have Ali play himself. I can picture them sitting down and saying that really there is no actor who could do this man justice (this was before Will Smith was born!). However, Ali just couldn't act. Its sad watching him play himself as a young man when he's so obviously overwieght older and out of shape. Also I think that at the time this film was made, he was beginning to develop Parkinsons. His speech was already becoming slurry. The filmakers surround Ali with a professional cast of actors like James Earl Jones and Ernest Borgnine as Angelo Dundee, but Ali just wasn't right for this. Maybe this is one film that should never have been made. The lead up to the climatic Rumble in the Jungle with Foreman where he regains the title is done very well, it shows him training and running. They show quite a bit of footage from Ali's fights which is fine because they are from his best fights, the only thing is they keep playing the same damn music OVER AND OVER for them! It got kind of irritating. It was thrilling though in the end when Ali went up against the younger and stronger George Foreman and beat him in a stunning upset by using that "rope a dope" strategy. The final words of the film are of the fight commentator when he says "Foreman goes down, Muhammad Ali has done the IMPOSSIBLE! He has regained the Heavyweight Championship of the World"

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee (1969)

Superb fly on the wall documentary film footage about two of Ali's biggest fights. The first against Liston when Ali was a young sure to lose underdog and the second against Foreman when his age and Foreman's power had combined to lower him to major underdog status once more. 

5 Favorite Muhammad Ali FilmsThe boxing is definitely not what it's about here (Ali was so much more than a boxer to many people all around the world) , but a slice of Americana from two periods of it's history, ten years apart. Attitudes glare out at us from a cross-section of American society, towards the man, his principles and his opponents, which are things barely seen on any fight footage...another reason for the fight footage being unnecessary is that it would detract from the interest of non-boxing fans, whilst boxing fans will most probably have seen the fights more than once and will surely not be in desperate need see them again. Their interest however should be more than held by this unique back-grounding footage which would then complete the picture for them.

Boxing is a conflict, but conflict without drama is not terribly compelling and a drama is made up of attitudes and circumstances which surround an event or character, which is what this footage gives us, so it would not be so surprising that upon watching this some non-boxing fans may find themselves in search of the fight footage for which this movie is a backdrop. Top marks from this viewer.

Others Muhammad Ali Movies...

  • A.k.a. Cassius Clay (1970)
  • Champions Forever (1989)
  • Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story (1996)
  • Muhammad and Larry (1980)
  • Facing Ali (2009)
  • The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013)
  • The Rumble in the Jungle (1974)
  • Thrilla in Manila (2008)
  • Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013)
  • Ali: An American Hero (2000)
  • Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World (2001)
  • Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami (2008)

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