David Ramsey in Ali: An American Hero (2000)

This One Isn't the Greatest

I don't know how many biopics of Muhammad Ali there have been but so far I have watched 4 including "The Greatest" which saw Ali playing himself. Of course when you have 4 movies about one man you have to wonder what each one can say which makes it stand out from the rest and when it comes to "Ali: An American Hero" it manages to find elements which other movies haven't mentioned. For example we see how the young Cassius Clay ended up in a gym and so started his career as a boxer and whilst brief it mentions the Olympics although for the most it focuses on Ali's career after the Olympics and in doing so immediately puts itself in to comparison with the other biopics with scenes such as after returning from Rome with a medal he still faced racism when he went in to a whites only diner.

That brings me to the issue which "Ali: An American Hero" along with every single biopic of Muhammad Ali has and it is unable to do justice to the eventful life of the legend in the confines of one movie let alone one which isn't even 90 minutes long. It rushes from one event to another, leaping over certain aspects in order to cram in as much as possible but in doing so barely scratches the surface when it comes to the man himself. Yes we are presented with Ali's confidence and it quickly suggests of the hurt he feels of having been an Olympic hero he is still treated like dirt but we never get to know the man behind the punches and the banter.

Now that brings me to David Ramsey who let's be honest like all actors who try and play Muhammad Ali have a real battle on their hands to try and imitate him and when you don't quite have the right face to start with you are going to struggle. As such Ramsey doesn't full convince as Ali but his interpretation is certainly an interesting one with more charm and less arrogance behind the cockiness. Aside from Ramsey there is also Joe Morton who comes across as quite charismatic as Malcolm X and despite only a limited number of scenes makes an impact in all of them.

What this all boils down to is that "Ali: An American Hero" is a solid made for TV biopic about Muhammad Ali but it is one which suffers the same issues as other Ali biopics and that is trying to cram too much into the movie at the expense of character depth and development. Despite that for fans of Ali it is good with Ramsey putting his own spin on the great Muhammad Ali.

Tags: Boxing Movies