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Title: I am Ali

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:71

“I am Ali” is a very touching look back over one of the greatest sports legends of the 20th century. Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay) has become so ingrained in our culture that we recognize him about as much as we recognize Michael Jordan in the basketball world. He’s an icon, a legend who took the heavyweight championship THREE times during his younger days. Today he’s had to deal with the results of his fighting as he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his late 30s. This disease has left the man with very little muscle control to the point where he can barely speak or stand anymore, but one thing has not grown weaker with age, and that is his legacy.

Ali was born a southern boy, down in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up to love the sport of boxing. Winning an Olympic medal back in the 60s only skyrocketed him to fame as he took the boxing world by storm. Taking the world championship at the age of 24 he was a legend, only to have several of the best years of his life taken away from him when he was arrested for draft dodging during the Vietnam War. Four years later and he got his boxing license back, but those four years were the prime for a fighter, and while he is one of the greatest legends, it will always tickle at the back fans minds. Just HOW much of an impact would he have made during those prime years had he been in the ring?

The Biopic takes a quick look at a lot of the important stages in his life. His start as a boxer, his amazing victory over George Foreman, his time as an activist are all woven in between found audio tapes of Ali himself that he recorded as well as interviews with family, friends, and influential people that he encountered over his life. This was produced by the same people who did the fantastic “Searching for Sugerman” documentary a few years back, and carries a unique flair about it. Usually most documentaries about Ali tend to be very fast paced and just talk a lot about his past. The inclusion of the old video recordings and audio recordings made BY the star, intermingled in with the interviews paint a very unique picture of the man.

The pace of the documentary moves by at a very leisurely pace, never getting too hurried or excited, but always had enough nuggets in them to stay interesting. So man documentaries are either overly long and dry, or else overly dramatized in order to garner a more positive viewer reaction, but this did neither, just touching on some of the great highlights of the man’s life, both in boxing and in his personal life. This gives it a very human feel, although sometimes I felt like the idolization of the man went a bit too far. Ali had some incredibly dark points in his life, some demons he had eating away at him and those points were glossed over except for a comment here or there that can be easily missed. Personally I would have felt it fleshed him out a little bit more.


Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language

Video :3.5stars:
Taken from different recordings of Ali, tapes that he recorded for his family and for posterity’s sake as well as high definition interview work leaves “I am Ali” with a transfer that shifts in quality from moment to moment. The newly recorded interviews with family members, friends, etc. looks quite stunning, with lots of detail and color pop. A picture that’s basically straight from a high end digital camera source. Black levels look good and looks near reference. Since this film is basically a mix of interviews and original source material, the rest of the image can look good, to decent, to downright bad at times depending on what video they were playing from what decade. Blacks are poorer and the black and white image is either heavily pixelated (most likely from an old VHS tape recording) or shows excessive grain from those old hand held sports cameras. This isn’t a knock against the transfer itself, as you can see from the modern material that they did the best they could with the tools available.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless audio fares a little bit better than the video does, especially considering there must have been a lot of touching up done to those old cassette tapes to make them sound as clean as they did. We pretty much all know how this track is going to be though. Being a documentary, “I am Ali” is mainly a 3.1 track with a mild amount of surround activity utilized for the musical score, and a few old fights that stirred some activity back there. The three mains get the brunt of it and do a very good job replicating the dialogue and the detail from the front effects (what little there were). The tracks were balanced very well, blending those old tapes, the video recordings as well as the interviews seamlessly so you didn’t have to keep your hand on the volume know as so many documentaries have a tendency of doing when they don’t balance the different source material. LFE is mild, adding some weight to a few scenes, but mainly relegated to the score and the transition effects when switching sections of the biopic.

Extras :2stars:

• Fighter: The legendary boxer
• Brother: The Civil Rights supporter
• Lover: The people’s champion
• Father: The family man
• The Music: Telling the story

Overall: :3.5stars:

“I am Ali” is a rather touching documentary about one of the greatest boxers of the 20th century. Many have come before, and many have come after, but there is always that one that rises above the rest, whether it be by charisma, skill, talent, good marketing, or a mixture of all and Ali was/is one of those few people. The documentary isn’t 100% perfect, but it is a nice little biopic into the life of one of America’s greatest sports heroes. The lossless audio and hi definition picture are both quite good, considering the sources taken from the tapes and video, and anyone interested in the legends of boxing should definitely check out this one.

Additional Information:

Starring: Muhammed Ali, Hana Ali, Maryum Ali, Rahaman Ali
Directed By: Clare Lewins
Written By: Clare Lewins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian, Portuguese DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 11th

Buy I Am Ali Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Check It Out

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. The best documentary that I ever saw was "when we were kings" Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's 1974 'Rumble in the Jungle' heavyweight title bout in Zaire. That was an impressive documentary. I still remember it today.

734 Posts
Thanks for the review. The best documentary that I ever saw was "when we were kings" Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's 1974 'Rumble in the Jungle' heavyweight title bout in Zaire. That was an impressive documentary. I still remember it today.
Yes "When we were kings" is an amazing documentary! an absolute must see for anyone interested in boxing. I look forward to checking out "I am Ali" as well.
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