Ang Lee’s long delayed Ali/Frazer Biopic “Thrilla in Manila” may not happen

Ali Frazier

Anyone with anything good to say regarding Ang Lee’s Life of Pi will surely praise the visual experience in 3-D. Lee pushed the 3-D technology to it’s limits and achieved something remarkable. Life of Pi earned multiple Oscar wins, including Best Director. Afterwards, anticipation was high on what Ang Lee’s next project would be. In 2013, the director came out and announced that he would do a 3-D Biopic on the epic 1975 bout “Thrilla in Manila” between boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

The 3-D film was said to give audiences the feel of being inside the ring with the two heavyweights. An inside look unlike any other at the brutality that Ali and Frazier gave each other in those fights. Peter Morgan who wrote Ron Howard’s formula one film Rush was set (and still is) to write the Biopic, which may already be complete. However, the much excited Lee directed project may be delayed permanently.

Ali Press

The Ali/Frazier Biopic has faced quite a bit of delays in pre-production, mainly regarding the film’s budget. If Ang Lee is promising The Life of Pi visual experience only better, for a film centered on Thrilla in Manila, it’ll probably cost a bit of money. Furthermore, some of the delays have actually been from Lee himself. The director claims that he would like to wait for technology to catch up a bit in order to fully achieve his vision for this project. His vision includes incorporating 3-D technology that’s able to enhance horizontal fast motion and close ups. Lee also intends on using real life footage of the fight, which is ambitious to say the least. It sounds very promising and worth the wait if you ask me. However, the longer the wait the more money that’s being spent in this lengthy pre-production.

There is a chance that the director will proceed with a smaller project, until the timing is right regarding the project. My hope is that the studio doesn’t can the project fully or proceed without Ang Lee. The idea sounds very cool of giving audiences an experience like this, especially when it’s a fight like the Thrilla in Manila.


For those who aren’t familiar with this rivalry or boxing, the Ali/Frazier fights were some of the best ever, especially during a golden era for the sport. There were three fights between the two heavyweights. The first fight a.k.a The Fight of the Century was a true classic between an undefeated boxer in Ali who finally met his match in Joe Frazier. The second fight wasn’t as good, and was considered poorly refereed by many. The third fight a.k.a Thrilla in Manila was the one to settle the rivalry once and for all. The fight took place in the Philippines and was 14 rounds of pure everything you’d expect from a fight between two legends. Ali won 2 of the 3 fights, with Frazier taking the first.

I’ll be watching closely on the status of Ang Lee’s Ali/Frazier 3-D Biopic.

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