Movie Details

Widely regarded as the greatest boxer of his generation -- perhaps the greatest in the history of the sport -- Muhammad Ali lost his license to box in 1967 when he refused to be conscripted into the military, citing religious objections as a Muslim. Ali was out of the boxing game for three years until the State of Georgia allowed him to fight Jerry Quarry (who quit after three rounds due to cuts) in October 1970 and after Ali defeated Oscar Bonavena two months later, the stage was set for Ali to reclaim the world heavyweight title. However, on March 1, 1971, Ali faced Joe Frazier for the first time at New York's Madison Square Garden, and Frazier handed Ali his first professional defeat; if Frazier lacked some of Ali's finesse, his strength and stamina were unmatched, and Frazier's victory came as a surprise to many fight fans. Ali hardly took the defeat graciously; in the hoopla over the "Fight of the Century," he'd called Frazier "ugly," a "gorilla", "ignorant" and an "Uncle Tom," and when the two fighters staged a rematch at Madison Square Garden in January 1974, the stakes seemed as much personal as professional. Ali defeated Frazier in their second match, which lead to "The Thrilla in Manila," a widely hyped final rematch in which Ali and Frazier fought one another for the last time in October 1975. Frazier's trainer refused to allow his fighter to return to the ring after fourteen intense and brutal rounds, but Ali collapsed while claiming his victory and told a reporter the final rounds were "the closest thing to dying I know of." While the Ali-Frazier fights have often been examined from Ali's point of view, filmmaker John Dower gives Joe Frazier a chance to tell his side of the story on The Thriller in Manila, a documentary that explores of the greatest rivalries in the history of professional sport, and how the friendship between the two men became a bitter feud by the time they entered in the ring in the Philippines. The Thriller in Manila received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi