MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

One of the more controversial men of the twentieth century, champion boxer Muhammad Ali generally evokes strong opinions in people those who love him and those who dont. In this new film, portraying the early years of his rise to prominence, Will Smith certainly delivers the performance of his career playing the flamboyant and opinionated boxer. The film covers a decade of his life, beginning with Alis rise to the heavyweight crown and the championship match to beat reigning champion Sonny Liston. After winning the crown, the Champ is seen dealing with government agencies and his prominent membership in the nation of Islam, a frequently controversial group. Director Michael Mann portrays Ali with the eye of an admiring observer, although he fairly includes some of Alis flaws, particularly his relationships with women. Smith portrayal comes especially alive and provides the films best scenes when Ali is in front of news camera, spouting off his characteristic rhymes and insults at other boxers. Jon Voight turns in a nearly unrecognizable and stunning performance as sportscaster, and Alis friend, Howard Cosell. The film should have particular success among older audiences that witnessed and remember much of Alis time in the public eye, although Alis appearance at recent Olympic games may attract curious, younger adults.

Shortly before he takes the heavyweight title from Liston, Ali becomes interested in the Nation of Islam. Early on, one of his closest friends and advisers was the militant black leader, Malcom X. However, when Malcom falls into disfavor with the leadership of the Nation, the leaders claim Ali's support for themselves, making sure the two are rarely in the same place. Both the Nation of Islam and the U.S. Government (not to mention others in authority positions) are portrayed as using their power to influence Ali entirely for their own gain. The great contrast in Ali's life, though, is that he stays true to the Nation of Islam and rejects the government's call to the draft, even though both groups are depicted as using him as a publicity tool. The movie's foul language is relatively light for an R-rated film, however, six obscenities and one strong profanity deliver a low blow. One graphic sex scene occurs between Ali and one of his future wives (played by Smith's real wife, Jada Pickett Smith), although no nudity is revealed. Unfortunately, obscenities and a graphic sex scene, knock ALI out of Preview's recommended ring.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (11) times - Mild 7, Moderate 4

Obscene Language: Several (6) times - F-word 5, s-word 1

Profanity: Once Regular (GD)

Violence: Many times Mild and moderate (boxing matches, man knocked out, man shot, men slapped)

Sex: Once Graphic (graphic with motions, no nudity)

Nudity: Near Nudity Few times (cleavage emphasized)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (couple kissing on bed, comment about desiring sex)

Drugs: Few times (alcohol)

Other: Portrayal of nearly everyone in power as corrupt and out to use Ali in some way; Islam portrayed through Alis view - who was a follower shown to demand strict lifestyle; man portrayed as unfaithful to his wife

Running Time: 165 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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