» The Fighters (1974)
The Fighters (1974) HD online
Rick Baxter,William Greaves
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I had the opportunity to see this rarely shown movie yesterday at the American Museum of the Moving Image. In addition, the director was there to hold a question-and-answer session after the film. This film is way way more interesting, compelling, complex, and gloss-free than the recent film When We Were Kings (which was very good in its own right). It deals, in cinema verité style, with the weeks leading up to, and the immediate aftermath of, the 1971 Ali-Frazier fight. There are many scenes that take place on the streets of Manhattan, during which the camera eavesdrops on the passionate arguments between ordinary citizens who were of the two strictly divided Ali and Frazier fight-fan camps. The exciting fight is shown--all 15 rounds--in its entirety, without any sportscaster's narration--a conscious and brilliant decision by the director. The movie is better than When We Were Kings because it is less blatantly in Ali's camp--in that movie Foreman, a charismatic man in his own right, is portrayed as an inarticulate, unintelligent boxer who deserved no respect. In Ali: The Fighter both fighters are revealed as complicated, graceful, and intelligent boxers as well as human beings. Also--since it takes place in 1971, the Vietnam War era, when Ali was much-maligned and hated by many people for his conscientious-objector status--it makes for a much more psychologically interesting film. This is a must-see for any boxing/Ali/Frazier/documentary fan. Unfortunately it's not available on video as of yet. Apparently, plans are in the works.
Great documentary that has behind the scenes dealings as well as amazing fight footage of what was maybe the most significant boxing match of the 20th Century (though you could certainly make the argument for Louis-Schmeling II or Johnson-Jeffries, as well). I tried to search for it on here and you had it under the wrong title. BAM theaters in New York just screened this a month ago, so I know I'm not crazy. It's called "The Fight" as in "The Fight of The Century" as it was billed. It is not titled "The Fighters" - hard enough to find this lost treasure as it is. See BAM link below: http://www.bam.org/film/2014/the-fight
I first saw this on broadcast TV in the early 80's as a late night movie and now have it on DVD available here ---> http://www.amazon.com/Ali- The-Fighter-Muhammad/dp/B0007LPSIQ
Fans of the sport and the fighters get the entire fight without commentary from various angles including ringside to give the 'you are there' feel.
The promoters allowed cameras behind the scenes of financial discussions about the event and viewers are given a look into the personal lives and personalities of the fighters. The producers evidently wanted to provide every perspective possible as it happened leading up to the fight including speculation of sport writers and fans and members of the fighters' teams.
The film also provides insight into the societal attitudes of the time. Frazier's manager is asked why black investors where not involved and the sore subject of Ali's draft refusal comes up more than once.
In giving such detailed insight, this movie did an excellent job of showing future generations why this event transcended boxing and sports.
There were a number of "superfights" throughout the 20th century, but only one fight deserves the distinction of being called The Fight of the Century- and this was it. Fifteen rounds of toe-to-toe action by two of the best heavyweights to ever lace on a pair of gloves. Both men were at the height of their game. The ever loquacious Ali, banned from boxing for two and a half years, had finally returned to the ring in smashing fashion in 1970 by dispatching perennial contender Jerry Quarry in just three rounds. That was followed by a gruelling fifteenth round knockout over the Argentinian Oscar "Ringo" Bonavena. The Quarry fight had suggested that the vaunted hand speed was still there, and the Bonavena fight proved that stamina was still an Ali strong suit. Unfortunately, Joe Frazier, who had become the heavyweight champion in Ali's absence, was made of far sterner stuff than either of the two contenders Ali had beaten en route to their showdown.
The fight speaks for itself: Ali, moving when he could and lashing out with snake-like speed and precision, caught Frazier- always a slow starter- early on with beautiful combinations; but Frazier never stopped pressing the fight, never let up, and the vicious left hooks for which he had become famous were finding their mark time and again, even in the early going. Ali narrowly won the first round, widened the margin a tad in the second- but by the third round, Frazier was landing solid left hooks to the head and body and Ali found himself forced back against the ropes. There he found himself, again and again, as Frazier pressed the action. The hooks thudded home solidly (punctuated by the occasional right hand, that dug in deep), and Ali's entire body was jarred from head to toe by the sheer force of the blows. Years later, when asked who had hit him the hardest in his career, Ali said that Frazier had actually hit him harder than anyone else- including George Foreman and Earnie Shavers. Frazier, in this first of three fights, took rounds three through eight- but Ali, spurred on by cornerman Drew "Bundini" Brown between rounds, came out and won the ninth round big. Though the fourteenth round could've been even, Ali did not clearly win another round. The knockdown in the fifteenth round clinched it for Frazier. The judge who scored the fight 11-4 was the one whose scorecard most closely reflected the fight itself. (Body punches do count, despite the way some judges see things.) One of the key reasons to see this version of this fight is because it lacks the idiotic babbling of the know-nothing commentators whose ringside commentary makes so many fights not worth watching. Whosever idea it was to let the fight speak for itself made a good choice.