Hard as Clay
I have not been a great reader of books but many years ago I read a book about Cassius Clay and whilst I have long forgotten what that book was called it could quite easily have been David Remnick's "King of the World" on which this made for TV biopic is based as certain scenes such as the opening which saw Clay being pulled over by the police whilst running rang a bell. In truth whether you have read Remnick's book or not is not a concern as all you need to know is that "King of the World" focuses on Clay's life before he became Muhammad Ali and culminates in 1964 having defeated Sonny Liston.
What does that mean well we see a wide range of things from Clay's meeting with Malcolm X, his suffering of racial abuse, various moments of training and so on. Now Clay/Ali's life was such an interesting one that just by being about the great boxer makes "King of the World" automatically interesting. But whilst interesting is important "King of the World" lacks something to make the story come alive and ends up feeling like a basic retelling of his life.
Don't get me wrong as "King of the World" isn't a boring movie and it has some style about it which makes it better looking than some made for TV movies. In fact the first time we see Clay enter the ring to spar with a larger man and make a mockery of him with his ducking and diving as well as quick legs it is hard not to be entertained. But it is only surface entertainment and you don't feel like you really get to know the people being portrayed.
On the subject of being portrayed well whilst Terrence Howard doesn't have the look of a young Cassius Clay he does manage to bring some of his mannerisms to the screen and as I said watching him move about the ring with his arms hanging loosely by his side is a joy to watch. But beyond Howard's performance the rest of the characters end up forgettable because the actors whilst looking the part are really only there to do just that, look the part.
What this all boils down to is that because Clay/Ali's story is such an interesting one "King of the World" ends up interesting. But it is a made for TV movie which feels incredibly shallow and lacks the depth to make the characters feel real and the story come to life.
Tags: Boxing Movies