Facing Ali

Rated 4.0

One of the most unexpectedly poignant movies of 2008, Pete McCormack’s boxing documentary Facing Ali takes what could have been another glib clips film and injects it with arresting personality. Facing Ali follows the highs and lows of the career of Muhammad Ali through the perspective of his opponents, most of whom regarded their chance to fight the Greatest as the pinnacle of their careers. There is universal respect expressed for Ali, but Facing Ali is not a hagiography, and in true oppositional spirit, McCormack doesn’t shy from showing how nasty and priggish Ali could be. Ali himself is absent outside of old footage, so the emotion comes from the queer wisdom and life stories of old boxers like George Chuvalo and Ron Lyle, most if not all of them the products of poor and/or violent childhoods.