Critical Condition: What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali | Prime, 9.30 Monday

☆☆☆☆Training Day director Antoine Fuqua’s stirring new documentary almost exclusively uses archival footage of the loquacious icon talking, boasting, shouting, and jiving to trace the arc of his one-of-a-kind career which was so incident-packed that it’s broken into two parts. The epic slugfests with Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman (not to mention the U.S. draft board) are all here. But the cruelest irony is saved for last, when the man who for so long led with his braggadocio rather than his clenched right hand is virtually silenced by Parkinson’s.” — Entertainment Weekly.

☆☆☆ “Produced with the cooperation of the Ali estate, the film makes no attempt to go beyond hagiography. What it lacks in depth and rigour, though, it makes up for with the wealth of fascinating photographs and videos, compiled without narration and with a graceful flow. Ali was well-documented in his lifetime, and the film carries us into his career as he so knowingly created it, with purpose inside the ring and with gleeful and wildly successful image-making and cultivation of fame outside it.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ Then, of course, there is the extensive fight footage itself, presented here in all its majestic glory. From his legendary win against bruiser Sonny Liston, to his three battles against Joe Fraser and Ken Norton, to numerous lesser-known bouts, Fuqua provides a thrilling overview of Ali’s athletic feats … At almost three hours, What’s My Name never bogs down in repetitiveness or pedantry, instead operating almost as swiftly and forcefully as the icon himself.” — Variety.

☆☆☆☆ “It is the examination of Ali’s post-retirement life in the final hour of the documentary’s second part that is most stirring — it’s very easy to create an engaging, spirited piece of work from the extroverted-to-the max gleeful rhymes and rhythms of Cassius Clay, and many have done so. But seeing Ali in a physical fight with himself as he battles Parkinson’s Disease and the damage wrought by the ring is a jarring but necessary epilogue to his story.” — IndieWire.

☆☆☆☆ “Ali’s life in and out of the ring was so rich with meaning and left such a footprint on the cultural landscape of not only the United States but the world, even a 165-minute documentary leaves us wanting more … The greatness of What’s My Name is that if you’re young and you know very little of Muhammad Ali, this would be the perfect place to start learning about him — but if you remember Ali in his prime and you’re well-versed in his history, it’s STILL a must-see television event.” — Chicago Sun-Times.

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