Ali: Michael Mann Commemorative Edition

Director Michael Mann has revisited his Muhammad Ali biopic Ali for a new “commemorative edition” Blu-ray.

Ali‘s new edition pays tribute to the man with a title card, “Muhammad Ali: 1942 – 2016.”

He told Variety he was interested in “making more tangible the forces that were raised against him, all his adversaries, and linking them in a strong way.”

A director’s cut of the film was released in 2004, with eight-and-a-half minutes of material that both amplified the political strife of the times and deepened Ali’s kinship with sports journalist Howard Cosell.

For the new release, Mann has pulled some of those Cosell elements back while keeping the political material, trimming for the shortest cut yet, 151 minutes.

When movies like “Thief,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and “Miami Vice” went to DVD, he oversaw director’s cuts of each.

“Heat,” however, received microscopic tuning in its move to Blu-ray in 2015. Other movies, like “The Insider” and “Collateral,” haven’t been touched.

Released to mixed reviews, Ali garnered two Oscar nominations: Best Actor for Will Smith and Best Supporting Actor for Jon Voight.

Mann says he was always unhappy with the third act of the film, climaxing with the epic Rumble in the Jungle fight with George Foreman in 1974.

“In the heart of the Cold War, certain centrists were perceived as unreliable,” Mann told Variety. “Their countries were destabilized and essentially a kleptocracy. There was no investment in infrastructure. And there was a threat posed by Lumumba in the Congo, the National Liberation Front movements, which led right into the war in Vietnam, and black militancy, particularly when it started to broaden laterally and include poor whites, hispanics, the anti-war movement.

You then had the murder of Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King, and earlier, Malcolm X. The country was much more polarized than we’re used to thinking. Even today it’s not as polarized.”

That’s exactly what Ali did when he refused to fight in Vietnam. As Mann wrote of Ali in Variety after the icon’s death in June, “He would build a motivational figure made out of life itself. His life. And, it cost him.” Ali was also against type, Mann says, which made his impact all the more noteworthy.

Mann remembers Ali’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky. “He had designed who should be on that podium, and it was exactly the way he was: proud, opinionated, and with the orientations of other people,” Mann says. “It was a mess, and it was great, and funny. And that was Ali.”