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12-12-01 news BY JASON O'CALLAGHAN
Ali Premiere Review... last night saw the first screening of Will Smith's new movie Ali in London's Empire Cinema.

The movie is based on the life of the world famous boxer Cassius Clay who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

For the role Smith, who is best known for roles in movies such as Men in Black, beefed-up to nearly double his body weight for the role in which his wife Jade Smith joins him for a short time.

In the film she plays Ali's first wife who marries and divorces him a total of three times.

Starting in 1964 with the champ's first fight against the racism within his community and moving to his first boxing match for the title of Heavyweight champion of the world, Smith gives a outstanding boxing performance against Sonny Listen, whom he beats for the title.

Smith has perfected all of Ali's dialogue and one-liners, he glides through the classic "Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee" as if it were being said for the first time.

The film illustrates how Ali made friends with the civil rights leader Malcolm X and his involvement in the Fellowship of Islam, who take over his management, and then abandon him when he is arrested for refusing to take part in the draft for Vietnam.

Moving quickly the film provides fast, hard-hitting fight scenes and a well-chosen cast.

Jon Voight is nearly unrecognizable as Ali's close friend, a boxing reporter.

It shows Ali as a man who was taken advantage of by his friends. A man who wins his title and dignity back in 1977 when he beats George Foreman (who was ten years younger then him) during the Rumble in the Jungle fight in Africa, one of the first fights promoted by Don King.

Ali is a well-written well-acted movie. It could do with a little more tension but then again it is based on a life that had enough for ten movies.

Definitely worth a visit when it comes out after Christmas.

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