[Screen It]


(2001) (Will Smith, Jon Voight) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Moderate Heavy Moderate Heavy
Mild None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Mild Moderate Moderate Heavy

Drama: A heavyweight boxer tries to regain his crown after it's stripped from him due to political reasons in this decade long look at legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.
It's 1964 and former Olympic boxing champion Cassius Clay, Jr. (WILL SMITH) is about to fight Sonny Liston (MICHAEL BENTT) for the heavyweight championship of the world. Known for both his physical and verbal prowess, Ali's supported by his corner team consisting of trainer Angelo Dundee (RON SILVER) and motivational guru Drew "Bundini" Brown (JAMIE FOXX).

With sports reporter Howard Cosell (JON VOIGHT) covering the fight, friend Howard Bingham (JEFFREY WRIGHT) taking photos of it, and Malcolm X (MARIO VAN PEEBLES) there lending support, the underdog prevails and becomes the champion.

Inspired by Malcolm X, Clay decides to join the Nation of Islam and is given the name Muhammad Ali by the religion's leader, Elijah Muhammad (ALBERT HALL). With his son, Herbert Muhammad (BARRY "SHABAKA" HENLEY), now serving as Ali's spiritual guide and manager, the boxer soon has a falling out with Malcolm X, but fills that void when he meets Sonji Roi (JADA PINKETT SMITH), who eventually becomes his first wife.

Time passes, Malcolm X is assassinated and the government starts watching Ali for fear of militant and/or verbal Black Muslims. Ali's clash with the government worsens when he refuses to be inducted into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam. Although supported by his friends and lawyer Chauncy Eskridge (JOE MORTON), the champ is stripped of his title and banned from fighting as his case moves its way up through the courts.

By this time, he's seeing Belinda (NONA GAYE), who becomes his second wife and watches as boxer Joe Frazier (JAMES TONEY) becomes the new heavyweight champ. With Ali's case eventually behind him, he then travels to Zaire where he meets yet another lover, Veronica Porsche (MICHAEL MICHELE), as he prepares to regain his title in a fight arranged by promoter Don King (MYKELTI WILLIAMSON) against the hulking George Foreman (CHARLES SHUFFORD).

If they're fans of the real Muhammad Ali, anyone in the cast, or films by director Michael Man ("Heat"), they just might.
For some language and brief violence.
  • WILL SMITH plays the charismatic and opinionated Muhammad Ali, a converted Muslim, who uses some strong profanity, cheats on his wives and refuses to be inducted into the Army during Vietnam for religious/political reasons. He also steadfastly stands by his beliefs and decisions.
  • JAMIE FOXX plays Ali's motivational corner man who drinks, uses some strong profanity and falls on hard times when Ali does.
  • JON VOIGHT plays sportscaster Howard Cosell who befriends Ali and enjoys their on camera repartee.
  • MARIO VAN PEEBLES plays civil rights leader and Muslim Malcolm X who has a falling out with the religion's leader as well as Ali.
  • RON SILVER plays Ali's manager.
  • JEFFREY WRIGHT plays a photographer who follows Clay's/Ali's career.
  • MYKELTI WILLIAMSON plays boxing promoter Don King who uses some strong profanity.
  • JADA PINKETT SMITH plays one of Ali's wives who becomes fed up with his eventual bad treatment of her. She uses some profanity.
  • NONA GAYE plays another wife who Ali also eventually cheats on.
  • JOE MORTON plays Ali's lawyer during his multi-year battle against the U.S. government over his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army.
  • ALBERT HALL plays the leader of the Nation of Islam.
  • BARRY "SHABAKA" HENLEY plays Elijah's son who's assigned to be Ali's Muslim guide and business manager. He disappears when times are bad, but returns when Ali does.
  • MICHAEL BENTT plays Sonny Liston, the heavyweight champion of the world who loses to Clay. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • CHARLES SHUFFORD plays boxer George Foreman who Ali fights in Zaire.
  • JAMES TONEY plays the boxer Joe Frazier who fights Ali and briefly uses strong profanity.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity includes the use of at least 6 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also spoken. Some brief, sexually related dialogue is present, while we see a couple fooling around on a bed (possibly having sex as the woman rhythmically moves on top of the man with pleasured facial expressions, etc.).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including Ali, as well as assassins who shoot and kill two men (one seen in full, the other occurring off camera, but both have bloody results and may be unsettling to some viewers). Other violence includes that which occurs in the boxing ring, while some tense family moments are present in the form of strained marriages.

    Beyond that, some characters smoke, some drink and one is apparently a drug addict for a brief period. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to examine our detailed listings more closely to get an exact idea of the content that's present here.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, a few moments of that occur early in the film.

  • Miscellaneous characters have drinks at a concert.
  • People have drinks in a club.
  • Bundini and another man drink straight vodka.
  • A character comments on being half drunk.
  • Ali goes to visit Bundini who appears to be drunk and/or on drugs. Bundini states that he sold Ali's championship belt for $500 that he then put up his arm (possibly referring to heroin).
  • Bundini and Cosell have drinks.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks.
  • We briefly see a black and white newspaper photo of a lynching victim whose face looks burned or torn up.
  • During the championship bout, Sonny Liston has some blood on his face.
  • Malcolm X's shirt is bloody when he's shot with an assassin's shotgun.
  • We hear Martin Luther King, Jr. being shot and then briefly see him lying wounded on a balcony with a pool of blood around him.
  • A boxer has some blood on his face.
  • Although it's not entirely clear, it seems that Liston's corner puts something on his gloves that temporarily causes Clay not to be able to see during their match.
  • Although he treats them nicely at first, Ali shows disrespect for the women in his life, including cheating on wives and getting after them for the way they dress, etc.
  • Various people latch onto Ali once he becomes famous (for the money and/or to be part of the fame), but then disappear when hard times hit.
  • The assassins who shoot and kill Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. obviously have extreme cases of bad attitudes.
  • Some viewers will see Ali as a draft dodger, while others will view the government as the entity with the bad attitude toward him.
  • We briefly see a black and white newspaper photo of a lynching victim whose face looks burned or torn up.
  • A man approaches and then shoots Malcolm X with a shotgun twice. Other then walk up and shoot him with handguns, making sure he's dead.
  • We see a government agent's gun under his shirt.
  • Shotgun/Handguns: Used to shoot and kill Malcolm X.
  • Unseen weapon: Used to shoot Martin Luther King, Jr. (we don't see the incident, but do hear it and see the results).
  • Phrases: "I'm gonna f*ck you up," "F*ck you," "Get them the f*ck right here," "I'm not telling them sh*t," "Nigger" (said by various black people), "Fat boy," "Give a damn," "Kick your ass," "Bad ass niggers" and "Honkies."
  • Some kids could be inspired to imitate Clay/Ali in and out of the ring (including his verbal but humorous taunting of opponents, and his religious/political stances).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 6 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 1 "s" word, 1 slang term for sex ("porking"), 5 asses, 5 hells, 3 damns and 1 S.O.B. used as exclamations.
  • While Muhammad dances with Sonji, she takes his hand and puts it down onto her clothed rear end. Moments later we see her moving on top of him as if having sex, seen mostly in head and shoulders shots (with movement, pleasured facial expressions, and the sight of her in her bra).
  • She then asks him if he's a virgin due to the way he acted, prompting him to say he's not, but that he might as well be.
  • We see more kissing between Ali and Sonji on a bed, with his hands on her clothed butt and we then see him on top of her with more kissing, but nothing else.
  • Sonji shows some cleavage.
  • Bundini briefly comments on an earlier comment by asking, "Satisfaction is not making it with a woman?"
  • We see a woman on top of Ali, kissing him (both are clothed), but a crying baby interrupts them.
  • Bundini states that someone knows he likes "porking white women" and later says something about "more cushion for the pushing" (a sexual reference).
  • Various miscellaneous characters smoke cigarettes or cigars in various scenes, while Cosell occasionally smokes or holds a cigar.
  • Cassius Clay, Sr. is upset with his son for changing his name.
  • Ali's infidelity and treatment of his wives (being angry with them for the way they dress, etc.) puts a strain on their marriages.
  • Sonji states that she was young when both of her parents died.
  • The historical accuracy of the film in regards to the real life events.
  • The various real life people portrayed in the film, such as Ali, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Nation of Islam.
  • Ali's decision to refuse induction into the U.S. military in regards to its involvement in Vietnam.
  • Being a film about boxing, there are various re-creations of such matches where the opponents pummel each other (occasional with great severity) with punches to the face and body.
  • We briefly see a black and white newspaper photo of a lynching victim whose face looks burned or torn up.
  • A man approaches and then shoots Malcolm X with a shotgun twice. Other then walk up and shoot him with handguns, making sure he's dead.
  • Ali goes at another boxer who still calls him Clay and must be separated from him.
  • We see brief, archival type footage of people protesting and throwing and burning things.
  • We hear Martin Luther King, Jr. being shot and then briefly see him lying wounded on a balcony with a pool of blood around him.
  • Ali strikes Bundini in angry disappointment for letting himself go.

  • Reviewed December 17, 2001 / Posted December 25, 2001

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