Comparisons of Michael Mann movies are a real piece of work. The man seems to be a perfectionist. Instead of simply reinserting sequences in the proper places and recut a bit here and there we have the impression that Michael Mann (Manhunter, The Last Of The Mohicans) completely reassembles the movie. Because of that several scenes are missing from the Director's Cut – this is the case with Ali. Even though it's considerably longer than the theatrical version it still misses close to five minutes of the original material in over 60 places. But there's nothing of the plot missing. Those trims mostly consist of shortening unnecessary long takes or additional shots of people. However the question remains why changes like this are being made subsequently. Of course it's not the intention to simply extend a movie, but the removal of that material is plain senseless. It would have been equally senseless to put material like that back in the movie because it doesn't serve any purpose and doesn't up- or downrate the film. Mr. Mann could have saved the effort of reassembling the film.
So much for the missing scenes of the DC. Now a few words on the new sequences and the obligatory question if those sequences justify a repurchase. The biggest flaw of this supposed biopic is that only a small excerpt of Muhammed Ali's live is covered. In the beginning he wins the title of world boxing champion and in the end he wins it back. About ten years of his life are presented. Childhood and the life after what's shown in the movie are completely ignored. Not a word of Ali being diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome appears in the after text. Instead the film serves Hollywood mechanisms by ending with a bif final fight. Here the Director's Cut could have taken a more intersting approach. But that is not the case. Instead numerous unimportant scenes (e.g. 0:25:39) made their way back. Other scenes are too complicated and seemingly have been removed on purpose for the theatrical. Due to missing explanation it sometimes is unclear until the end what the scene has to do in the movie and the context stays shady (e.g. 0:38:43).
Kudos to some new scenes in which Ali shows off the mouth of his, especially the brilliant scene at 1:43:38.
Overall the DC is a tiny bit (but only a tiny bit) better than the theatrical version. But a repurchase is not necessary. If one doesn't call the DVD one's own already the DC should be considered right away.
If alternative but equally long material is left aside one winds up with the following numbers:
Right in the beginning, while we see the black singer on stage with intercuts on Ali training a new scene has been insterted. Ali's father makes a deal with a lot of white men. Ali sits behind his father, he's bored and looks a pictures of horses. The scene has no extra sound, we still hear the song of the singer off screen. Due to this the following scenes of the rest of the song have been adjusted in the DC.
The shot of the singer from behind is a little longer in the DC, there are also a couple of more frames of the following shot (Ali's trainer reading a paper).
Alternative and longer take of the singer in the DC.
The replaced scene follows a few seconds later in the DC, ergo the DC is longer in the end.
Here the DC has the scene from the cut above, only that it's longer again. It replaces another shot which doesn't appear in the DC
Theatrical Version: 3 Sec.
Director`s Cut: 20 Sec - minus the part of the scene which has been in the theatrical version earlier: 13,5 Sec.
A black guy takesa picture of Ali dodging his opponent while training.
Alternative take of Malcolm X being happy about Ali's triumph. In the theatrical version he discretely leaves his seat, in the DC he stays..
The scene of Malcolm X leaving follows in the DC a little later.
After the triumph the DC presents the first new scene:
Ali's friends sit around a table (without him) and celebrate. They're at a big party. The sportscaster walks through the masses and some (white) sponsors look for Ali. The ask someone where he is and the guy replies that Ali will come and they should go get a drink. Then we see an exterior shot of the party. People are alos celebrating outside.
As Ali walks the streets and people are gathering around him the DC presents another short new scene which appears after Ali told some fan that he's gonna do the rhymes her.
In this new scene he stops and talks to a kid, if the boy wants to see how fast Ali really is. The kid says yes and Ali asks him to raise his hand and count to three. Ali says that he's gonna punch his hand six times before he's done counting. He takes position and tells the boy to start. The Kid counts really fast and Ali doesn't hit once. Ali then asks him very cool if he hurt him.
The theatrical version comes with an alternative scene in which Ali jokingly hugs the kid. The DC shows a shot of some cheering black people.
Ali's conversation with the Islam leader is longer in the DC. He tells Ali that he's been watching his relationship with Malcolm but he thinks it's not very wise anymore. Ali looks concerned but nods in agreement.
(Change of scene)
The following scene of Ali telling his father that he's changed his name is also longer in the DC. Here, it starts earlier.
First of all a picture's being taken. Then they argue about Ali not wanting to be represented by white lawyers anymore (among other things). The father replies that those people always helped him. Ali stands firm and finally tells his father that his name isn't Cassius anymore, it's now Muhammad Ali. Here the theatrical version continues.
A shot of Ali's father turning his back on him is only contained in the theatrical version.
Altogether 62 Sec.
The scene aboard the plane with Ali entering the cockpit and sitting down next to the pilot slightly differs in either version while the theatrical version has the better material.
As Ali jokingly asks the crew what they've done with the real pilot the (black) pilot replies that he is the real pilot. In the DC we don't here him reply but see a useless shot of a black passenger getting up and looking toward the front of the plane.
No time difference
Here the DC shows a very long and completely new scene:
One of the men watching Ali and Malcolm calls someone over the phone. Another white picks up on the other end. He also seems to be an agent. The first guy says that Ali just met someone but before he can finish the other guy interrupts and says that he's going to call back.
The scene continues with the guy who has been called. His location – according to the subtitles – is Congo, Zaire. A black, high-ranking soldier stands in front of him. They talk in French. The soldier then leaves the building. In frontof it we see a few prisoners who are being held at gunpoint. The soldier picks up a phone and makes a call. Cut to a normal soldier who answered the phone and now runs to a higher ranking officer. The officer then enters a room where an officer's meeting is being held. He pauses breifly then yells in French „It is done!“. The other officers stand up and applaud.
Now we cut back to the agent calling his colleague back. The colleague tells him thatAli hust met Malcolm X. The caller says that he thought this was over already. He then orders his colleague to keep track of Ali and says that he's going to take care of Malcolm X himself.
Because of missing subtitles the the content of the conversations was indeterminable, however the content of this new scene remains questionable. Since nothing is explained and we are faced with lots of new characters who aren't appearing at later points again it is hard to put that scene in the context of the movie. Maybe one has to now about the exact conspiracy theories, historical events and important figures – the ones in the US as well as in Africa – to fully understand this scene.
The new scene is referred to again at 2:04:29. However there isn't any more information to be revealed so the context stays shady.
The scene with Ali training while the TV in the background shows Malcolm X and Martin Luther King together is longer in the DC. Here, we intercut right on the TV, showing further images of the two men before the scenery transists straight to that event. King and Malcolm X walk in opoosite directions, Malcolm X is being tailes – a man takes pictures.
The sports reporter warns Ali of the government wanting to put him away to avoid black riots. Ali asks how this is supposed to look, like a negro behaving well and doing as he is told? The reporter says yes and adds that they want to demonstrate what happens to him if he doesn't obey.
More shots of Ali driving by several reporters who want to ask him about his arrest warrant.
More shots of Ali entering his apartment and disregarding the reporters. A bodyguard keeps them from going upstairs.
The DC shows a scene of Ali sitting in the apartment with his cortege. The mood is down. One of his assistants informs Ali how the press reacted to his statements. Ali silently looks around.
After his trial and conviction there's more footage of a depressed Ali walking through the streets in the DC.
The DC shows a little more footage of the kissing and sweet talking in bed.
The scene in which Ali's friend tells him that he better takes his championship belt back from Bundini (who's now a drug addict) is a little longer in the DC. Ali's stepdaughter sits in his lap. He tells her that she smells like she's been wetting her pants. His wife enters and jokingly says that he could try to change her diapers just for the experience. Ali glibly replies that he was just changing her when it came to his mind that he didn't want to do it. Then we see the new champion Joe Frazier on the TV.
Here are some alternative shots of a depressed Ali on the train. Altogether the DC runs 9 Sec. longer.
After Frazier promised Ali to fight himthe DC shows more training scenes.
After the lost fight Ali's team doctor cuts the bandages from his hands. Ali is down and says that his legs didn't do what he wanted them to do. The doctor becomes quiet and then says that they would have needed more time between this fight and the last one, especially after the mandatory break of two and a half years. Ali is still pissed, gets up and asks where the hospital ward is. The doctor says something to his assistant.
The DC shows tow new scenes in sequence:
First a full new fight is included. Ali wins by technical K.O. But he is visibly tattered.
(Change of scene)
Ali and his team sit in a restaurant. They talk about the fight Frazier vs. Foreman and someone says that Foreman fought and Frazier just hit the floor. Ali downplays this, just asks „So what?“. Someone tells him that Foreman is 24 years old whereas Ali is already 32. Ali asks his doctor: „You think I still got the tools?“. The doctor has no doubt that Ali can do it, howevr he adds that Ali's tools are different now. Ali looks a little down but then lightens up and says: „Well, then we better sharpen them up, because we`re going to Africa“. His friends are happy about his optimism and agree.
Altogether 118 Sec.
The press conference with Foreman (the final opponent of the movie) is longer and the DC. In the theatrical cut the funniest moments, where a battle of words occurs between Ali and his friend for years, sports reporter Cosell, are missing
Cosell asks him if Ali is intimidated by Foreman beating two of Ali's hardest opponents. Ali gets up, takes off his jacket and threatens Cosell with all sorts of things. Cosell asks Ali if he would beat a man who's not wearing a jacket. Ali jokingly gets mad about this, replying that Cosell always talks too much and uses words which he knows Ali doesn't understand. Ali then gives an example to mess with Cosell who just replies that Ali seems to finally figured the meaing of that word out. Ali then holds an arrogant but indeed vry funny speech of how Cosell is only famous because Ali made him famous. During this there are lots of intercuts on reporters, Foreman, the PR guy etc.
Note: This scene is brilliant and hilarious. Both actors, especially the one portraying Cosell, create an atmosphere of wordplay and friendship although they defame each other in the worst way. This alone makes the DC worthwhile..
The DC contains another shot of one of the wall drawings of Ali which he discovers while jogging.
A shot of the shocked Ali in the middle of the cheering crowd is longer in the DC.
One of the wall paintings is seen longer in the DC.
Extended shot of Ali jogging (slow motion).
Before the press conference in which Ali calls Foreman a mummy the DC inserts a breif new scene.
Ali sits in a small, dark room. He sees some reporters passing by, Cosell is among them. He calls for him and they both shake hands. He asks him how many of the reporters are betting on Foreman and he begs him to be honest. Cosell says that his chances are not good. Foreman trains with special guys, fast guys and stil has much more strength than Ali.
The shot of Ali after he mocked Cosell is a little longer in the DC. Ali says „Man“.
Alternative take of Cosell laughing.
The DC contains another shot of the beautiful African dancer and another one of Ali watching her.
The training scenes of Ali and Foreman have been exchanged in the DC. Both versions intercut to very brief shots of the audience, drummers etc. which are missing in the opposing version. The differences are marginal. A big plot extension follows in the DC after the training.
Length of the scene in the theatrical version: 36 Sec. (Pal)
Length of the scene in the Directors`s Cut: 39 Sec. (Ntsc)
After the training sequence the DC presents a new scene which connects to the other new scene from 0:38:43 but again the content is speculative.
First Ali's trainer ends the training. Ali and his team are bragging a bit, the audience applauds etc. Then dark music starts to play. A man walking away from the setting is seen from the back. A reporter catches up on him and asks him something in French. Contrary to the scene at 0:38:43 there are subtitles this time:
Reporter: "You are from the American Embassy... do you have a predict on?"
(Intercut to Ali joking around)
Man (cold and rude): "I am from the American Information Agency. I`m not permited to express my preference between two U.S. citizens."
He adds a rude, not subtitled „d`accord?“ which means „understood?“ or „you got that?“ and disregards the reporter. More shots of Ali talking are following before the scene ends.
The DC has a brief extension of Ali showering.
Before the final fight begins both versions show different scenes. The DC is considerably longer.
In the DC Ali is already at the arena. We see the last preparations being made in his locker room. His doctor and trainer prepare the first aid kid and put it in the bag, as usual. Ali sits down and his trainer asks him if he's alright. Ali hesitates and then, while sounding scared for the first time, says that George Foreman is not a mummy but the hardest opponent Ali has ever faced. But he quickly gets a grip and yells that he's just waiting for him.
In the end Budini enters, going through his usual bragging and rhyming to cheer Ali up. Then the entire team is going to enter the arena.
While George Foremen is being counted out both versions show slightly alternative material.
In the theatrical version there's more footage of Ali's trainer in the corner, worried.
In the DC the shot of the trainer is shorter but there now is a shot of the cheering audience.
No time difference