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:
The DC features the scene from the former cut, it is longer again, though. It replaces again another take which does not appear in the DC at all.
Theatrical Cut: 3 Sec.
Director`s Cut: 20 Sec - Minus the part of the scene which was shown (earlier) in the theatrical cut: 13,5 Sec.
The TC shows the action going on in the ring before the first fight a little longer.
The Director's Cut misses Sonny Liston batteredly going into his corner, after Ali first defended himself right.
The TC features an alternative scene here of Ali huging the guy in jest. - The DC shows a shot of some cheering black people again.
A short shot of Ali's father standing with his back faced to him is featured only in the TC.
After the scene in which Malcolm X found out Ali would not come to Africa with him, the theatrical cut is slightly longer again, as the cut to Africa takes place. - Two black men walk across the screen longer in front of a wall and the telephone call-voiceover between Malcolm and his wife is longer. He tells that he bought a doll for his daughter.
The following shot in which a white man ascends some stairs is longer, too.
The scene in the plane, in which Ali sits down next to the pilot in the cockpit, is also slightly different in both versions, but better in the TC.
When Ali asks the bridge crew in jest, what they did to the real pilot, the (black) pilot answers that he indeed was the right pilot. In the DC, this answer isn't featured, instead you see, entirely pointlessly, a black passenger sit up and look strangely to the front.
no time difference
The DC misses two shots of two waving black men and Ali as he drives through the African town and some people wave over to him.
The TC contains a scene in which Malcolm X walks down a street with some relatives as Ali reaches the hotel with his car.
The men watching Ali talking to Malcolm X are shown from different angles in the TC. The first one is looking through binoculars, a second one is stirring his tea, he is carrying a gun below his shirt, as a third shot shows. - The DC features something completely different and new, see next cut.
The TC shows two shots of the agent talking to Elajia Muhammad's assistant (Joe) and Joe himself a little longer. - Entirely insignificant.
The TC shows Joe a little longer sitting at the cafe's table before the scene ends. The agent tells him he should get him the bills, then he would get the money for the cleanings returned.
An inbetween-cut to Ali driving is a little longer in the TC as Malcolm X starts his speech at which he gets shot.
The TC shows another shot of the doctor cutting off the boxing bandages of Ali's hands after he had won the second fight against Sonny Liston.
The TC features another shot of Ali's lawyer (Herber), after Ali's father angrily left the motel room. - Again, entirely indifferent...
The TC shows Ali longer as he rubs his nose into one of his wife's (Jada Pinket Smith) clothings, who just ran away from him.
The DC misses Ali entering the building with his mates as he is on his way to conscription (which he will not attend).
After Ali told the reporter (and thus the world) what he thinks about the war in Vietnam, the DC misses another shot of his friend and another one of Ali himself, lossening his collar a bit. - The DC features a completely new plot scene instead.
The TC features another shot in front of the court of Ali and his mates leaving the building as his trial and conviction take place. He shakes hands with every criers.
Ali is walking longer across a street.
Ali's lawyer is shown a little longer in the theatrical cut, when he waves Ali goodbye. The cut to Ali, who now slowly starts jogging again, is also a little longer.
The TC shows another shot of Ali's new wife (Belinda) in his arms as they lie in bed and she tells he called her "little Indian". The ring on her finger is shown in the meantime.
The line she says is also contained in the DC, but as a voice-over as Ali walks across the street.
Belinda is walking a little longer through the room with the baby in the TC. She sits down on a chair to continue calming it there. The DC on the other hand features an entirely new plot scene here.
When Ali descends from the stage where he must have held his speech right about now, and walks to his friends who mesmerizedly look at the TV screen that shows the racial tensions, he asks in the TC what was going on.
The TC features another shot of Ali who also terrifiedly looks at the racial tensions shown on TV.
After Ali just called in his sport reporter friend's show, who just interviews Joe Frazier, he doubtfully looks at his wife in the TC. Subsequently, only the TC features a take of Ali training.
When Ali is being excepted from the muslim belief, the Director's cut misses the line that says he was not allowed to even talk to another muslim any more.
The scene is also featured at a completely different spot in the DC.
Ali sits longer depressedly in the train in the TC.
The same again.
But here, the DC contains some alternative scene os Ali sitting depressedly in the train. All in all, the DC is 9 sec. longer.
Anoter shot of Ali walking towards the sports reporter, is only featured in the TC.
The shot of the spotlight is shown longer in the TC, after Ali went away with the sports reporter arm in arm.
Due to an edit to Ali's former manager Herbert, the DC misses a small scene in which Ali's doctor tells him he should give the ointment 20 mins to take effect.
The DC misses a part of the party in Ali's family circle before the sports reporter calls and tells him he has been discharged.
The DC misses the microphone being let down to the announcer before the boxing fight against Joe Frazier starts.
The DC misses another shot of a cheering audience member.
A shot of Ali before the boxing fight is longer in the TC.
The DC misses a shot of the announcer.
In the TC, Ali is shown standing depressedly and bewilderedly in the ring's corner after the lost fight in one more shot.
The DC features a new plot scene here.
In the TC, Ali's manager is shown talking a little longer while Frazier fights the contender Foreman, who wins few seconds later.
After Foreman has won the fight against Frazier, Ali bewilderedly looks at the TV screen in another take.
The DC shows another very long, completely new scene here.
The TC features another shot of the press conference with Foreman and Ali. The DC on the other hand shows a much longer, extended part.
In the TC, there is another shot of Ali, who joggs through the African slums.
More shots of Ali jogging through the African slums only in the TC. Partly, the scenes were shown at different spots in the DC, the theatrical version shows more anyways.
The DC misses a take of Ali's face while jogging. The wall pictures still bother him.
Another longer shot of Ali jogging in the TC (slow-motion).
After his jogging trip, you see Ali sitting a little longer and rolling up something in the TC.
Longer shot of Ali and his wife in the theatrical cut (during the argument).
The shot of Ali's crying wife is longer in the TC.
Ali is shown longer in the TC before he leaves his wife without a comment.
The TC contains another shot of Ali#s wife, who tries to dam up her tears after he left. The beginning of the subsequent press conference is also longer in the TC. The DC features a completely new scene in between those two. The TC is longer in these two takes, though (once more...).
Alternative take of Ali as Cosell asks the question if he really still was fast enough to beat George Foreman. The shot is longer in the TC, though.
After the alternative take of Ali, the shot of Cosell, who still asks his question, is also longer in the TC.
Alternative take of Cosell laughing.
No time difference
The TC shows Ali sitting down after the comment about Cosell's wife.
Two further shots of the boxing promoter, who walks across the grass to tell Ali Foreman hurt himself and could not box.
The DC misses another shot of Ali's face who, again, watches the pretty African dancers after the boxing promoter said goodbye. Here, the DC features two new shots, though.
The DC misses a shot of another dancer.
The shot of the guests of a cafe is longer in the TC.
The training scenes of Foreman and Ali have been swapped in the Director's Cut. Both versions contain tiny little takes of audience members, drummers etc. which are missing in the respective other one. The differences are very slight, though. The DC contains a rather big plot extension after the training.
Length of the scene in the theatrical version: 36 sec. (PAL)
Length of the scene in the Director's Cut: 36 sec. (NTSC)
At the talk between Ali and his wife (Belinda), a shot of her is longer in the TC. Shown after she asked him whether he loves her (his lover), and he answered he didn't know.
As Belinda desperately puts her head against the wall, she is shown a little longer in the TC.
The man is walking a little longer through the dining hall in the TC.
The table with three sinister intriguers is shown longer in the TC.
Both versions contain two different scenes before the final fight begins. The DC is much longer, though.
Ali is being picked up from his appartment. He gets in the car and they drive on. Two police bikes drive ahead.
The TC shows Ali hopping around in the ring before the final fight against Foreman and leans against the ropes to warm himself up.
The DC misses a scene in which Ali's trainer nervously asks where George (Ali's opponent) was. He asks many people and then goes to Ali, saying George messed around with them by keeping them waiting.
As George Foreman is being counted out, both version show slightly different footage.
The TC shows Ali's trainer trembling in the corner longer.
The shot of the coach is shorter in the DC, in return it features a shot of the roaring audience.
No time difference