Muhammad Ali: Whole Story, The (1996) (NTSC)

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Released 13-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 347:04 (Case: 346)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (88:09)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,3,4 Directed By Gen Watabe
Lindsy Clennel

Warner Home Video
Starring Muhammad Ali
Case Gatefold
RPI $39.95 Music None Given

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Muhammad Ali-The Whole Story is a DVD presentation of a six part made-for-television biography on the life of the great boxer. It makes a fair fist of the job too, managing to get interviews with a broad cross section of people that have touched Ali's life, including his mother and brother, all three of his coaches, his first two wives, and many of his pugilistic opponents from his very first opponent through to Leon Spinks, one of his last.

    Sprinkled liberally with footage from each phase of his boxing career as well as many of his press conferences, the most significantly lacking item was a contemporary interview with Muhammad Ali himself. It does manage to touch on his childhood in Louisville, discuss his early boxing efforts at the Golden Gloves and the Olympics, his early bouts as a professional, his adoption of the Muslim faith, his struggle against conscription and the Vietnam war, his days without a boxing license and his time back in the ring after it was restored to him. It is all wrapped up in a saccharine package that shows Ali's best side quite well.

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Transfer Quality


    This biography is a mosaic of so many shots of differing quality that it is difficult to give an overall score for this category. Most of the archival stuff from the early part of Ali's career suffers from varying levels of degradation yet the contemporary interview segues are very clear, detailed and sharp.

    This is a biography presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio. It is not 16x9 enhanced. Note that this is an NTSC disc, so your equipment needs to be NTSC compatible to view it.

    The talk segues compiled recently are very sharp and decently lit with nice background and shadow detail as you would expect from modern film techniques. All the historical footage on the first disc is from the early part of Ali's career and it shows. Pretty much all of it suffers from film degradation, causing loss of detail, sharpness and contrast. Some of the more significant examples of this occur during the Sonny Banks fight at 16:33, during the second Sonny Liston fight at 71:27, during the first Floyd Patterson fight at 80:00 and during the Brian London fight at 95:40. The second disc's archival footage has fared much better, benefiting from the better film stock used in the seventies and also appears to have been better treated. There was no obvious low level noise.

    During the major interview scenes colour is well saturated without ever getting too saturated. The colour portions of the historical footage are predominantly fine as well, with a couple of scenes that had colours a little washed out. The one glaring exception to this is a bad example of overmodulation affecting Spink's red hat and shirt during the post fight interview at 164:34.

    There aren't any significant examples of film-to-video or MPEG artefacts. As may be expected, much of the first disc's early footage suffers from varying levels of film artefacts. The second disc's archival footage has fared better in this category as well.

    Subtitles are available in English, French or Spanish. I watched a sample of the English subtitles and they were reasonably accurate, though not perfect.

    Disc 1 runs for 172:17 with the layer change at 89:09, at the end of a Howard Cosell quote. Disc 2 runs for 174:47 with the layer change at 82:02, between round one and two of the Rumble in the Jungle. These layer changes are well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Overall, the audio transfer is fabulous. Most of the archival audio is better preserved than the vision. The solitary audio track on this disc is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 one.

    The dialogue is predominantly very clear and easy to understand. There are only a few moments where the dialogue in the archival content on disc one becomes 'woofy' and hard to discern. An example of this is the coverage of the Ali vs Sonny Liston fight at 42:17.

    The audio syncing is perfect at all times.

    There is no musical score on this DVD presentation.

    The surround channels were not utilised by this title, nor was the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras included in this two disc set. The menu is extremely basic, with only three chapters per disc - one for each episode of the original television series. The second disc defaults to play, rather than opening with the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is another Warner Brothers multi coded NTSC release. I can find no indication that there will be a different release for the Region 1 or Region 3 markets, so there is unlikely to be any difference in the releases.


       Muhammad Ali-The Whole Story is a very comprehensive retrospective look at the great man's career as a fighter, encompassing some of his personal struggles on his journey through life. Great and extensive coverage of Ali's fights, comprehensive footage of the more significant encounters, interviews with former opponents, fight referees, family, and friends all shape this title into a wonderful addition to any DVD collection and an absolute must-have for fans.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Nemir Nemirius (if you're in a really weird mood you might want to read my bio.)
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV-4100, using RGB output
DisplayMetz Artos (82cm, 16x9 CRT Display). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront: Krix Lyrix; Centre: Krix Centrix; Rear: Krix KDX; Subwoofer: Aaron Sub120

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