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.

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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.

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Will Smith
as Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali
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
Barry Shabaka Henley
as Herbert Muhammad
Giancarlo Esposito
as Cassius Clay Sr.
Laurence Mason
as Luis Sarria
LeVar Burton
as Martin Luther King Jr.
Lawrence Mason
as Luis Sarria
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
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 Ali
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 Garden Announcer
Gailard Sartain
as Gordon Davidson
Wade Williams
as Jerome Claridge, Lieutenant Jerome Claridge
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 Garden announcer
John G. Connolly
as Assistant Director
Jack Reiss
as Referee Arthur Mercante
Marty Denkin
as Frazier Flight II Announcer, Frazier Fight II Announcer
Tamara Lynch
as Flight Attendent, Flight Attendant
Theron 'Chico' Benymon
as Hampton House Announcer
Bill Plaschke
as Miami Weigh-In Reporter
Steve Springer
as Miami Weigh-In Reporter
John Ortiz
as Madison Square Garden reporter
Robert Byrd
as Willie Reddick
Cedric Wills
as Jersey Joe Walcott, Referee
Moses Hollins
as Man on Train
Daniel E. Gurevitz
as Boxing Commission Reporter
Ray Bokhour
as Reporter
Leonard Termo
as Madison Square Garden Reporter
Johnny Ortiz
as Madison Square Garden Reporter
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
Poe Poe
as Harlem Reporter
Mel Dick
as Louisville Sponsoring Group
Kim Coleman
as Lana Shabazz
Victor Manni
as Dressing Room Weigh-In Guy
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
Keabetswe Motsilanyane
as Pointer Sister
Richard Katanga
as Mobutu Aide / Military Aide, Mobutu Aide/Military Aide
Thomas Kariuki Matheri
as Lieutenant Nsakala
Larry Hazzard Sr.
as Zack Clayton
Derrick Brown
as Larry Holmes
Rommel Hyacinth
as The Pilot
Virgil Graham Hopkins
as London Banker
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 Reporter
Wei Yi Lu
as Chinese Delegate
Lee Cummings
as Hunter Thompson
Zaa Nkweta
as Foreman Fight Announcer, Foreman Fiight Announcer
Themba Gasa
as Idi Amin
Andrew P. Jones
as Don King's Aide
Marc Kulazite Mboli
as Additional Aide to Mobutu
Cimanga Kalambay
as Additional Aide to Mobutu
Jean Bikoi
as Additional Aide to Mobutu
James Gilbert
as Sparring Partner in Africa
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News & Interviews for Ali

Critic Reviews for Ali

All Critics (156) | Top Critics (44)

It has the unsurpassable merit of its main character, Muhammad Ali, who is both one of the most serious people in the world and one of the funniest.

April 6, 2020 | Full Review…

Smith packed on the pounds, unleashed some great boxing moves, and displayed a level of emotional pull that compelled audiences to see him as The Greatest.

March 31, 2020 | Full Review…

Brutal fight scenes and frank racial issues.

December 21, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

I respect it enormously, but it feels like an art film in search of a movie. Mann recognizes the importance of Ali as an entertainer, but he's in danger of forgetting how to be one himself.

March 31, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

October 3, 2002

Mann's compelling account of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali captures the considerable impact and charisma of the man who literally punched his way into the American consciousness.

January 29, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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
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
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
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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