Will Smith stars in blockbuster, "Ali"

Will Smith, an accomplished actor, and also a chess enthusiast, stars in the latest of his high profile films. "Ali" takes a candid look at the formative years of Muhammad Ali's life, and Will Smith does a very convincing job playing the man known by many as "The Greatest." During Smith's "trash-talking" antics in the movie, sometimes you forget that the person playing Muhammad Ali is not the man himself.

Will Smith in ALI

Smith is joined by a cadre of popular stars in American cinema including Jamie Foxx and Smith's attractive wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. Pinkett-Smith plays Ali's first wife in the film. There was also another chess player in the film… but this player is a lot stronger than Smith. Most of those in New York and the east coast know him as "Poe," a New York-based Candidate Master known primarily as a fierce blitz player. You may have seen him in "Searching for Bobby Fischer" when he told others to put out cigarettes because child prodigy Josh Waitzkin was playing.  In this film he also has one line (or one and a half) as a Harlem reporter.  Look for him in the movie, but pay attention… it's real quick!

It's extremely difficult to capture the essence of a man's life in 157 minutes, so some segments seemed out of place. However, you will see some captivating shots in the Congo (formerly Zaire) prior to the heralded Ali-Foreman fight. Also touching was the mutual affection between Ali and the citizens. It's an intriguing movie, but may lose a youngster who has no idea of who Muhammad Ali was as a fighter and as an international icon. Anyone who doubts his legend should rent the video documentary titled, "When We Were Kings." It details the events leading up to Ali-Foreman's "Rumble in the Jungle." That indeed was one of the greatest chess matches of all time!

Actor Will Smith  learns the ropes from Chicago's NM Marvin Dandridge!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 4 January 2002