Raging Bull (1980) Poster

(1980)

User Reviews

Review this title
77 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
It really is harder to Stay At the Top than to Reach the Top; just because Life has No Justice.
CihanVercan24 September 2008
Whoever is dissatisfied by Raging Bull, I'm sure they watched it with expectations of watching a sports movie, like Rocky. Despite the AFI chose Raging Bull as the #1 sports movie of all time, you can't expect to see the most breathtaking boxing match nor to witness the best crochet of boxing history. Raging Bull can only be classified as a drama/biography. Director Scorsese chose to go with black&white cinematography only to keep the young viewers away from this masterpiece of art. It's not fair to compare Rocky with Raging Bull. Rocky was a populist movie mostly for young viewers, and Raging Bull is a cinematic masterpiece. From a wide point of view, for instance, if you look at one of the Michelangelo's paintings; at first you see a nude woman, if you look longer and deeper you realize that her nudity expresses some thought, if you look continuously and give a life to it in your imagination you discover that the women are not just their bodies. Accordingly, like it is not enough looking once to a painting to understand what opinion does it defend; it is not reasonable and not fair to watch Raging Bull so as to see a sports movie. Also it is not reasonable to see Raging Bull only once. Raging Bull is one movie that, every time you watch it you get a better taste, every time you watch it you discover something new.

Raging Bull taught us that even if you are the best at some skill, even if you are the best of all; you need to create witnesses, admirers and supporters of your skill. It's the only way to reach the top. Moreover, it is harder to stay at the top than to reach the top. Not because someone better than you can defeat you, it's just because of the need to be accepted on every authority; like the Council of Judges, the Media and the Admiration of People. Director Scorsese draws benefit from the hypocrisy of fame. He empowers Raging Bull to make people ask to their conscience if the popular values that people choose can really cherish their values.

In Raging Bull, Jake La Motta was the best boxer of all, but people didn't like him. He was disrespectful, he was uncivilized, he was very ugly, he was arrogant, he was irritable and he didn't care; 'cause he believed himself. Despite the fact that he is the best, everybody disliked him. Soon, he was left alone; and in a very short time he lost everything he possessed. When he opened his eyes back to life, he found himself in prison. The scene that he is punching and butting the wall facing him is one of the most heart rending memorable scenes of the whole cinema history.

At the end, he finally throws in the towel of believing himself, he loses his faith and becomes to learn what he never wanted to learn: The Fame. He starts running his own business at a night club under his name, working as a stand-up comedian at the stage. People laugh at him for the jokes he made out of his memories, the jokes paraphrasing the bitter facts of life; including the very famous joke of the British King Richard-III which he said in the year 1485 just before dying: "A horse, a horse... My kingdom for a horse!". There we understand truly: For every joke there lies a share of a fact underneath.
50 out of 69 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The blood-drenched, wife-beating world of Jake LaMotta.
gamemastereric17 July 2018
Oh, you want to know what kind of film this is? This film was directed by a person who had just been on the verge of dying after a drug overdose. That is the kind of film this is.

Comparisons between this movie and Rocky are inevitable, but the differences are obvious. This is a much darker, aggressive film: There is nothing emotionally rewarding about it. It is not "almost too much". No, it is actually obnoxious.

Needless to say, not everyone will like it. It is not an emotionally attractive film, and many will find that they cannot relate to the incredibly violent, deranged character of Jake LaMotta. I would not be surprised if someone gave this movie a 1-star review because of how horrifically, frighteningly off-putting his personality is. In this film, he is both the protagonist and the antagonist.

Perception aside, let's look at the real meat of this movie. The co-screenwriter stated that the issue with this movie was that it "has been done a hundred times before -- a fighter who has trouble with his brother and his wife and the mob is after him"

Yet this is considered one of the greatest movies of all time by many, despite the fact that so many people are turned off by the subject matter. Why?

This is, without a doubt, a filmmaker's film. If we take a detailed look at the cinematography, acting, editing, and dialog, you must ask the question: Honestly, Is there any question? It is, truly, some of the best you can expect to find in a movie. The technical skill put into this movie is mindblowing. This is why people like Roger Ebert are so captivated by this movie.

It is hard to say that this movie is fantastic because it is incredibly difficult to watch and is, by vote, not entertaining. However, it is a technical masterpiece, and from beginning to end, it is an excellently produced movie. For most, this is not a fun movie. It is, however, a fun movie to analyze. Not a bad pick if you are looking for a professional movie, but not something you'd watch with family.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Do not get the bull out
ismetyeral29 June 2018
I think that this film is one of the best films of Martin Scorsese and Robet De Niro, and let's not forget Joe Pesci. The factors that made this film so good are the actors and characters at the beginning and the incredible dialogues between the characters make the film both funny and distressing and annoyin
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Scorsese Shines
jonputtman-99803464 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Scorsese brilliantly crafted this stunning film. From the opening titles to the very last scene where Robert De Niro restates Marlon Brando's famous line from the 1954 Best Picture winning epic, On the Waterfront. When that line is said, the entire movie rushed back into my mind, as if Scorsese wrapped it all up in a bundle and handed it to me. The line was not only fitting for the movie, but for the scene itself. The last scene sets up how Jake LaMotta might just go somewhere, as he clearly does for a movie was made on him. The saying of this quote had me in tears, as it really put an emphasis on a waste of a man's life.

I also loved how it was shot in black and white. As in Schindler's List, the usage of this feature really dramatized the effects used and the entirety of the sadness depicted from Scorsese's masterful interpretation and the events that were happening. As I have always said, in black-and-white movies, there are some things that can be seen that cannot be seen in color films. The acting seems to soak in more, and the intentions of the director and writer are more intense. Possibly, it's because we see in "black-and-white", and this brings us to another reality that only we can see.

Scorsese's shots are very clean, and use his typical dynamics. When LaMotta is losing to Sugar Robinson about half way through the movie, LaMotta sits down, and Scorsese, as if moving the camera himself with his hands, zooms up to LaMotta from the other side of the boxing ring. It's beautifully perfect and holds a clean and steady shot that lasts in my memory.

The writing for the film was exceptional, and it was really well crafted. The dialogue was believable and was not as heavy as let's say, Woody Allen's 1977 romantic comedy, Annie Hall. The film held to itself, speaking only for itself, and there has yet to be another movie like it to date, except for as I stated earlier, Schindler's List.

Robert De Niro's acting was superb in this film in his role as Jake LaMotta. Not only did he master the enormous weight gain he needed for the part, but he also mastered the intensity of the role. In the scene where LaMotta is thrown in jail, the character starts talking bad to the officers, then to himself. He then gets up off of the bench he was sitting on and continually punches the stone wall, not only with his fists but with his head too. He then sits down again with his face half lighted. De Niro's amazing emotion conquest in this scene exerts the power an actor can have over a character.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
It's not a boxing film!
rat_20230 November 2017
Yep, that's right. Raging Bull is not a film about boxing, but a boxer. Fight footage actually takes up very little of the movie. Yet, it casts a huge shadow over boxing movies to this day.

Firstly, there's De Niro's truly mesmerising performance. I don't consider Raging Bull to be his best film (that's Goodfellas) but it's certainly his best performance. De Niro excels at playing flawed characters, and La Motta is no exception. Jake may be one of the toughest SOB's around but essentially, he's a very insecure man, always paranoid that his beautiful wife is playing away, trusting no-one. He gives one of his opponents a sound beating because his wife dared to say he was good looking. Not to mention attacking his own brother. Bobby's total immersion in the character is amazing, he IS Jake. And he doesn't try to sugarcoat or gloss over the fact that Jake is... not a great guy. Also, he took the Method acting to another level. Obviously, he wasn't the first actor to bulk up for a role, but he was the first to take it to such extremes. Now you have the likes of Christian Bale constantly gaining and losing weight, but Bobby set the standard. Also, he trained professionally as a fighter. Believe me, boxing training ain't easy. Apparently he got really good, as well. Since then lots of respected thesps - Washington, Day-Lewis, Crowe - have played pugilists and all have trained with professionals. All thanks to De Niro.

Scorsese's bravura direction deserves mention, of course. How he consistently got these performances out of De Niro is a wonder. The brutality of the boxing (and many non-boxing) scenes is something else. His decision to shoot in black and white but with modern cinema techniques makes for a very arresting film. Some of the cinematography is just incredible. The opening, the Sugar Ray fight...Marty lost out on the best director Oscar to Robert Redford for Ordinary People that year, which also beat Raging Bull to Best Picture but time has proved which is the better movie.

Joe Pesci's finest moment may have been some years off yet (Goodfellas, again!) but he is totally believable as Jake's brother. He is likable and for the most part level-headed, so it's really tough to watch the part where Jake really beats him over a misunderstanding. Equally tough is Jake's lame, but genuine attempt to reconcile. And whatever happened to Cathy Moriarty? She's excellent here.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Incredible acting
l_a_t_e_r_a_l_u_s7 October 2002
"Raging Bull" is a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is entertaining, but to me, it is more of a technical movie than an entertaining movie.

The acting is undescribable. Some terrific performances are featured in this film, especially Robert De Niro's performance, which is the stuff of legends. It was probably one of the most predictable Academy Awards ever that year, because Robert De Niro just blew everyone else away. Joe Pesci brings us another amazing performance. Martin Scorsese's directing is near perfect, and we are treated to great black and white cinematography. Basically everything about this movie had "OSCAR" stamped on its forehead.

Although "Raging Bull" is, in a technical sense, one of the greatest movies ever made, it fails to entertain on all levels. There are many moments in the movie that are incredibly entertaining, however, there are some moments where it just seems to be too slow-paced. I am usually all for slow-paced movies, as it helps to build up the plot and the characters, but I feel that "Raging Bull" could have been cut short 15 or 20 minutes and it would have been more entertaining, and still just as great when it comes to all the technical aspects.

Sum-up: If you are looking for some of the best acting you will ever see, look no further than "Raging Bull." If you want entertainment, you will find it in "Raging Bull", but it probably won't be as much entertainment as you want.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Brutally Powerful Portrayal of Anger, Frustration and Jealousy
ElMaruecan823 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I understand why this film is regarded as a classic. In fact, from the very beginning, the film has a kind of unique feeling, it's almost shouting, and loudly, "This is not 'Rocky'": from the classic opening score, to the shadowy black and white cinematography, the director is the first real star of the film : Martin Scorsese, the heavy-weight champion of film-making, probably the most talented director of his generation. The use of Black & White prevented the film from an overdose of red but the pay-off, was its "classic" look. When De Niro was reciting Brando's lines you could almost feel you were watching "On the Waterfront".

But I must admit I had mixed feelings with "Raging Bull" at first. On one side, I was literally mesmerized by De Niro's brutally powerful performance as a man devoured by jealousy. In fact, this jealousy, driven by a probably very low self-esteem works almost like a gangrene. Following the development of his character, you know that sooner or later, the guy's gonna reach a breaking point and the effects will be devastating. On the other side, this jealousy created a bit of redundancy in the movie, "let's face it" (like Terry Malloy would say), the scenes, although beautifully directed, making Vickie La Motta floating from man to man (great job by Marty, jealousy had never been so perfectly captured in film), those scenes were kind of repetitive, and upsetting. Upsetting in a good way because we're not necessarily supposed to root for La Motta but at least react to his shocking behavior and aggressive attitude. And upsetting in a bad way, because I was wondering all through the movie, "Okay, we got it, the guy is jealous" until the movie reminded of "A Women Under the Influence", another masterpiece where a character's behavior, makes you feel so uncomfortable, you don't want to watch.

And that"s how "Raging Bull" is a very particular movie. I hope every fan of this film can at least concede that it takes more than one or two viewings to let the film grow on you. And it's not that easy to consider it one of 'the best ever' after one viewing. "Raging Bull" is interesting because it's one of the few character studies that make you question the main roots of the character's behavior, the motives. Travis Bickle was alienated and frustrated, Charlie was torn between friendship and quest for redemption. In La Motta's case, it's hard to come to a conclusion. We know how he is, but why? why such a paranoid behavior that ultimately lead him to lose his family. Paranoia can be explained, take a character like Michael Corleone for instead, but for La Motta, it seemed irrational.

Then I realized the answer was in one, often overlooked, key scene, the Janiro fight. I will blaspheme by comparing the movie to a more recent one, but it reminded me of the scene in "Fight Club" when the narrator destroyed Angel Face -'something beautiful'. The violence La Motta injected in that fight made it look like a personal vengeance, massacring, 'executing' Janiro's face as a message to his wife, "you thought he was pretty, now he ain't pretty no more". Ruthless, but powerful, because it shows how low is his self-esteem. Destruction is the weapon of the envious, he doesn't try to improve himself but to destroy the challenger and stay the one and only one.

Low self-esteem doesn't mean lack of an ego, but La Motta's one is so twisted, so hard to grab, to understand, we try at least to find it sympathetic, and it only works because the character is pathetic, victim of himself. And this characteristic finally redeems him in the iconic jail scene, where the pathos reaches its paroxysm, when he can finally shout, break down, hit the wall with his bare fists and his head, and cry, realizing how hard he failed. This is the highlight of the film, the scene that makes him profoundly human, and as a viewer, I could at least make peace with him and appreciate the character, and the film. This is the pay-off of all the frustration, anger, discomfort I felt.

Jake thought his wife was a whore, blinded by an extreme machismo tainted with paranoid jealousy. He even accused his brother, his only real friend of being a member of this conspiracy. At the end, he lost everything. How pathetic he was outside the ring contrasts with his strength and ferocity inside, he hits and takes the hits, exorcising his own demons in this arena where he's the king. "Raging Bull" is often compared with "Rocky", well, despite the difference of mood, one thing they have in common, is how the ring appears to be an allegory for desire of revenge. In "Raging Bull", some shots are so aesthetically exaggerated that it's like it was intended to be kept proportional to all the griefs, all the feelings of low self-esteem that were burning in Jake's mind. In the ring, these feelings explode like a geyser of blood. Even when the Bull finds his "toreador", he's ugly and destroyed, but he's still standing, he's still "the boss".

I used to be very critical towards "Raging Bull", I never understood why this film was praised as one of the best ever, or #4 in AFI's Top 100. Now, I know it's a raw portrayal of a man we don't feel sympathy for him because we don't want to, the character is not to blame. We are, we're no better than La Motta because at least he took the hits until the "right" one hit him in the face. It took me time to realize that "Raging Bull" was indeed a masterpiece. Don't blame me. I guess all I can say is that "once I was blind and now I can see."
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
"The man's got a head of rock".
classicsoncall16 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
You can take Tommy Como's (Nicholas Colasanto) description (above) of Jake La Motta a couple of different ways. La Motta could take a punch like no one else, evidenced by the kitchen scene when he had brother Joey (Joe Pesci) bang away at him trying to prove a point. On another level, La Motta was savaged by his inner demons, making him a tortured, animalistic man who inveighed his wife (Cathy Moriarty) with repeated abuse. Something as picayune as choosing between a cheeseburger and a piece of cake was enough to set him off the deep end. It's Robert De Niro's depiction of La Motta's life outside the squared circle that makes "Raging Bull" such a triumph of film making. Not so much a boxing picture as one with boxing in it, the movie explores the depths of one man's depravity and deep seated insecurity that makes him an animal both inside and outside the ring.

Without the boxing however, the film would be an incomplete biography. Tracing La Motta's history from his 1941 loss to Jimmy Reeves on a nine count save at the bell, up to the loss of his Middleweight Title to Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951, the film explores the Raging Bull's turbulent history as an athlete as well. The picture gives a hint of the criminal element involved in fixing matches, and recounts the infamous 1947 Garden match he tanked against Billy Fox. Though they're never mentioned by name, this favor to the Mafia along with a payoff of twenty thousand dollars eventually got La Motta a middleweight title shot against Marcel Cerdan which he won.

Aside from his visceral portrayal of La Motta, Robert De Niro fully went the extra mile gaining sixty pounds to play La Motta in retirement. It just amazes me that an actor would put that much into his craft to achieve that kind of realism, which is just one more reason De Niro is considered one of the best of all time. Interestingly, check it out and see if you agree, in the scene of La Motta having his breakdown in the Dade County stockade he bore an uncanny resemblance to actor William Bendix.

In support, Joe Pesci gives one of the truly amazing performances of his career as well. You know, I don't particularly care for gutter language in film, but when done by Pesci, the colorful use of the F word almost rises to the level of high art. Along with Cathy Moriarty's depiction of wife Vickie, "Raging Bull" offers a compelling portrait of a man racked by personal insecurity and inner torment, who's brutal nature could only find release in a sport as physically demanding as boxing.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Fighting demons, not boxers
lastliberal14 April 2007
I don't know what took me so long to see this movie, but I jumped at the chance last night. I know it was nominated for a slew of awards, but that is not why I tuned in.

It was Joe Pesci's fourth film and he really shows the tough guy that he was to later develop in movies like Goodfellas and casino. His performance in trying to control his out of control brother was amazing.

Now, of course, Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta was also impressive. To see someone with so little self esteem that he was beset by constant doubt is sad. he was an amazing fighter, but never happy as he dealt with his demons.

Antone wanting to see outstanding acting directing technical work in a great story needs to see this film. It is one of the best of all time.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Fantastic acting and many memorable moments
gbill-7487716 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great film on a number of levels – as a biography of former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta, yes, but also a fascinating character study, with stellar performances from Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and epic direction from Martin Scorsese.

The opening sequence sets the stage for something special; De Niro is dancing in place alone in the ring in poetic slow motion, we see the film will be in black and white and there is a smoky haze in the background as the opening credits roll. We will soon see just how crazy this man is, as he turns over the dining table in a fight with his first wife over how long to cook his steak, yells down at his complaining neighbor that he's going to kill and eat his dog, and then goads his younger brother (Pesci) into punching him in the face as hard as he can. Throughout the movie, the dialog between De Niro and Pesci is loud, confrontational, argumentative, and fantastic.

The times were certainly different, and La Motta was part blunt New Yorker and part Cro-Magnon. He makes out with his wife on the floor in front of his sister-in-law and their toddlers. He's insanely jealous, and accuses his brother of having had sex with his wife (lines I will never forget, and sometimes quote: "I heard things Joey, I heard things" … "What things you heard?" … "I heard some things"). After confronting his wife, she "confesses" out of frustration, so he marches over to his brother's house and beats him up, also punching his wife in the face in the process, all in front of his brother's stunned kids.

La Motta met his second wife Vikki when she was just 15, and married her when she was 16. In the film she's played well by Cathy Moriarty, though she seems much older (she was only 20 at the time though). In another unforgettable scene, this one erotically charged, she kisses his body when he's not allowed to have sex before a fight, and then after he goes to the sink to pour ice water down his shorts to cool off, shows up in the mirror and begins kissing him some more. Scorsese uses a perfect amount of restraint here, however, and we never 'see' anything.

Unfortunately, he doesn't apply this same restraint to violence in the right, overstating it considerably, even considering the type of fighter La Motta was. We see blood spraying as if it were out of a hose, and boxers enduring more punishment than humanly possible. Maybe this is how Scorsese the man saw boxing, having not been a fan beforehand, or Scorsese the artist preferred to paint the violence of the men involved in the sport. Regardless, it was not necessary. That said, seeing De Niro at the end of the last bout with Sugar Ray Robinson (Johnny Barnes), his face a meatloaf, eyes puffed over but grinning like a ghoul as he tottered over to Sugar Ray, taunting him despite the beating he just took, saying "ya never got me down Ray", is another memorable moment.

Cut to 6 years later, a fat La Motta is poolside in Florida smoking a cigar, having retired. The legend is that De Niro gained 60-70 pounds over 4 months by eating high-end food in France and Italy, and it's just another larger-than-life aspect of this movie. It's painful to watch his awkward stand-up act, his crude jokes, his philandering with women in the bar, and getting thrown into jail for having let young teenagers into his bar (they having 'proved' being of legal age by French kissing him). His beer belly hangs out of his shirt while he's in a pay phone. Like an idiot, he hammers the jewels out of his championship belt, looking to pawn them, and not understanding they're worth far more in the belt. He's estranged from his brother, and the scene with De Niro following Pesci out of a convenience store down the street is heart wrenching.

The film ends with De Niro quoting Brando in 'On the Waterfront' as he practices his stand-up act in front of a mirror. He does it with just the right amount of poor delivery (he's acting as La Motta after all) and pathos, it's another great scene, but I have to say, the words themselves ring false - La Motta's brother WAS looking out for him, among other things beating the hell out of some guys in a nightclub when they were getting too close to his wife, and La Motta did NOT end up with a one-way ticket to Palookaville after throwing a fight for the mafia, he ended up with a title fight a couple of years later and won it.

Scorsese may have included too much violence, but he does so many other brilliant things. Black and white was an excellent choice. He uses slow motion to create an epic feel to moments. He uses stills of some of the boxing victories, and footage altered to appear as if it's from old home movies to show events in some of the intervening years. He tells the story with brutal honesty. Most of all, he gives outstanding actors freedom, and they really delivered.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Self-redemption
yj-3563926 April 2015
"I wanted to push all the way to the very very end and see if I could die. Embracing a way of life to its limit."

Martin Scorsese

During the making of New York, New York (1977), which turned out to be a box-office failure, the Roman Catholic director, Martin Scorsese, sank into a spiraling abyss of drug addiction. While he was "embracing a way of life to its limit", he almost got himself killed after having some "bad coke" that caused a massive internal bleeding. Thanks to this wake-up call, he finally kicked off his cocaine addiction with the help of the actor and his close friend, Robert De Niro, with whom he collaborated on all his most notable works. Believing that he would never make another film, Scorsese poured all his energy into making the next film, Raging Bull (1980), which received spectacular success and was voted the greatest film of the 1980s by Britain's Sight & Sound magazine.

Raging Bull is a biographic drama film about an emotionally self-destructive boxer fueled by paranoid jealousy and rage, which lead him to the top of the ring while destroy his life outside of it. The film is not only a redemption, which saved Scorsese from his self-destruction but also a landmark where his film style reached its peak: the expressionistic depict of psychological points of view. In his previous hits, Mean Street (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976), Scorsese rendered the protagonists' psychotic perspectives using high contrasts and aggressive use of bold colors. Raging Bull, shot in high contrast black-and-white, vividly carried out the raging, masochistic and insecure mind state of Jake La Motta through the perfect combination of visual and audio effects. From La Motta's point of view, his wife, Vickie is always in slow motion when she is close to other men. Through the exaggerated depiction of an innocent event, La Motta's jealousy is visually represented. During the most riveting boxing scenes, Scorsese utilizes not only the punching sounds but also the bull roars, flashbulbs, water-running, and even squelching watermelon sound effects to externalize the bubbling rage deep within La Motta.

Brutal and intense as the movie is, it has a poetic and contemplative opening of La Motta shadowboxing alone in the ring. The background music "Intermezzo" from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana orchestrates a tragedy that is about to unfold, while La Motta's movements are full of freedom and even transcendence. Interestingly, the movie also ends with La Motta, now an old, fat and failed comedian, shadowboxing in the dressing room before his show. Perhaps Scorsese is trying to suggest that throughout La Motta's whole life, boxing is the physical way in which this self-destructive soul seeks for spiritual absolution. Perhaps the cinematic classic, Raging Bull, is not only about rage and violence, but more about self-redemption.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Like a train wreck you just can't stop watching...
MartinHafer7 March 2010
Wow. This is an incredibly unpleasant film about a particularly unpleasant man. However, as the main character (boxer Jake LaMotta) is SO unpleasant and awful, the film is hard to stop watching--like some sort of train wreck that lasts 129 minutes! Now I am NOT saying the film isn't well made--it's very well crafted and there a lot of things to admire about it....but the characters (particularly Jake) are so awful that you just marvel at them.

The film is the life story of Jake LaMotta and it covers from his early days as a professional boxer in 1941 through his early post-boxing years. However, there are many things that make it quite different from films like "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and "Rocky"--and not just the bubbling hostility of Jake outside the ring. In addition, those around him are incredibly harsh and unpleasant. It's funny, but the mobsters around him are NICER than the LaMottas (Jake and his almost as vicious brother, Joey) and you see them as the gentlemen in the film! Also, unlike these other boxer films, this one shows the brutality in the ring to a degree only approximated in one other film--Kirk Douglas' "Champion"--though "Raging Bull" manages to go a few steps further in the brutality department. A few of the boxing scenes, in particular, are amazingly graphic--with broken noses and squirting blood galore. Now I know I might sound crazy saying this, but this Martin Scorsese film is probably one of the best indictments AGAINST boxing because it IS so bloody and brutal. I'd place it among films like "Requium For a Heavyweight" and "The Harder They Fall" as the best in anti-boxing films! So let's talk about the technical aspects of the film. When it comes to the boxing sequences, this is an amazing film. As I said above, the brutality of the scenes is stomach-turning. And, instead of quickly filming the matches, the director chose to choreograph them so maximize the emotional impact--with loud thuds, great lighting and amazing effects to simulate the gallons of blood spilled in the fights. My only complaint about the fights is that the boxers simply threw too many punches. No boxing match (even the lightweight ones) has THAT much punching in rapid succession. If they did, they'd never go more than three rounds, as the fighters would collapse from exhaustion! But, this exaggeration did make the scenes more intense, so I saw it as a case of artistic license. As for making the film in black & white, I think this also worked well.

The acting was pretty amazing. A lot has been said about Robert DiNero's commitment to the role--and how he deliberately ballooned up 60 pounds to play the retired LaMotta. In addition, the intense physical training he underwent to become the character was amazing. You have to admire his willingness to give his all for the part! When I looked for pictures of Jake, Joey and Mrs. LaMotta, I was also amazed that the actors (DiNero, Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty) really did look a lot like the actual people they portrayed--a nice touch. Overall, an exceptional film in most every way, though it's NOT a film for everyone. The unpleasantness of the film make it something that many simply don't want to endure--and I can certainly understand this--it is bloody and vicious throughout.
6 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Where you can almost feel the anger of this very angry fighter.
RJBurke194213 May 2011
Discussion – and argument – will no doubt persist about "so-and-so is the greatest fighter of all time." Does it make any sense, except perhaps to stimulate conversation, to keep comparing prize fighters? The only certainty, in this context, is this: if you like boxing and want to see one of the best films ever made about the business, then this is for you.

Because, not only will you hear one of the best scripts put to film, see some of the finest acting on film and watch scenes from the explosive career of a boxing legend, you'll also see another of Martin Scorsese's expert work as director. If you shy away from truly crude language, however, you probably won't abide the continual use of the F-word and the sexually explicit language between husbands and wives, and particularly that between Jake (Robert de Niro) and Vicky (Cathy Moriaty).

It's all in context, though, and realistically portrays the culture of New York of the 1940s and 1950s. Anyway, for today's younger audience, it's no big deal, that's for sure, to hear such language all the time, just about anywhere now.

Jake, as many know, was a hard-headed man: hard in the ring, and hard on his women (and men) with whom he dealt. So, yes, there is much domestic violence that serves as a mirror for the violence that continues in the ring; and where Jake can obviously work off a lot of that anger, a dominant aspect throughout the story, together with Jake's insecurities that feed his jealousies. Robert de Niro is probably the only actor at that time who could have performed the role. So, like Casablanca (1942), Citizen Kane (1941), Hud (1963) and a few others, I wouldn't expect anybody to ever attempt a remake of this masterpiece.

Mention must be made of Joe Pesci as Jake's brother, Joey, and his manager for much of his boxing career. Joe Pesci is so natural and powerful an actor, I think he is the only one, I think, who can steal a scene from de Niro. For example, have a look at Goodfellas (1990), one of the greatest gangster flicks ever made (from Scorsese, again).

Back to The Bull, however...

The rest of the supporting cast is without fault. The photography – black and white, my favorite – editing and sound are superb; and the sound track with much classical music is the cherry on top (for me).

For an interesting comparison, try Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) with Paul Newman portraying Rocky Graziano, another middleweight fighter who was a contemporary of Jake LaMotta's. It's almost amazing to me that the two fighters never had a bout together, but they both fought – and lost – against the same man: Sugar Ray Robinson, still the only fighter to win world welter and middle weight titles. Robinson, for the record, is also still regarded as the greatest boxer of all time (so far).

Even more interesting is that, according to one online source, Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano were boyhood friends and both spent time at the same correctional facility.

I recommend Raging Bull as the better, and more gritty movie, but Paul Newman's effort still stands up to scrutiny.

May 14, 2011
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
I've done a lot of bad things in my life Joey, maybe now I'ts coming back to me
sol121812 November 2005
(There Are Spoilers) Unlike most professional prize-fighters who keep their aggressions inside of the boxing-ring and outside of it would rather walk away from a fight then participate or provoke one boxer, and later Middleweight Champion,Jake La Matta, Robert Di Niro, was the exact opposite.

Brutal rude petty and jealous and combative of anyone who as much as looked at his pretty wife Vickie, Cathy Moriarty, La Matta did more fighting outside the ring then in it. Fighting his way up the ranks to get a shot at the title 20 year-old La Matta is defeated for the first time in his career on September 24, 1941 in Cleveland after he knocked his opponent Jimmy Reeves, Flyod Anderson, out cold. Reeves was saved from being counted out by the bell and was declared the winner which started a full-scale riot in the Cleveland arena.

Quickly recovering from his loss La Matta went on to defeat the undefeated Sugar Ray Robinson (Johnny Barnes), who bet La Matta twice before,on February 26, 1943 in a 10 round decision in Detroit, Robinson's home town. Assured that he'd get a shot at the Middleweight Title LaMatta had to wait some six years, and throw a fight to journeyman boxer Billy Fox(Eddie Mustafa Muhammad) in New York on November 11, 1947,to get it.

The movie "Raging Bull" concentrates more on Jake LaMatta's personal then professional boxing life and we see just what kind of a Neanderthal and brute he was to the people he came in contact with especially his wife Vickie and younger brother Joey, Joe Pesci.Suffering from an inferior complex and afraid that Vickie would leave him for another man, like he left his first wife for Vickie,La Matta constantly beat and berated Vickie to the point of not just slapping her around but catching Vickie flush right in the face with one of his punches that knocked her out.

Even Joey wasn't speared from Jake's brutality and suspicions of fooling around with Vickie when he savagely attacked and bet him, right in front of Joey's wife and children. This lead Joey to never talk to Jake again until almost ten years later. La Matta finally got a shot at the title on June 16, 1949 in Detroit and defeated the Middleweight Champ Frenchman Marcel Cerdan, Louis Raftis, when he couldn't answer the bell for the 10th round.

Defending his hard won title a year later against fellow Frenchman Laurent Dauthuille (Johnny Turner), Cerdan died in a plane crash before his re-match with La Matta,on September 13, 1950 in NYC Jake was about to lose the fight on points. It's then that he exploded with a fury of punches in the 15th round and knocked out Dauthuille with only 13 seconds left in the fight.

For all intents and purposes Jake La Matta's boxing career ended, he official retired in 1954, on February 14, 1951, known in the boxing world as the St. Valentine Day massacre. It's then when he fought and lost his Middleweight crown to his arch-rival Sugar Ray Robinson in a brutal 13 round battle. La Matta bloodied and beaten was still standing on his feet when the fight was stopped by the ring referee.

No longer able to box professionally La Matta opened up a nightclub, the Jake La Matta, in Miami Florida but trouble still followed him. La Matta was busted on a vice rap, that landed him in the Dade County Jail. This happened when he allowed a 14 year-old girl Mary Albee, who told LaMatta that she was 21, drink at his club and then introduced her to a number of his friends.

The movie "Raging Bull" ends in NYC in 1964 with a pudgy and punch-drunk Jake La Matta, alone with everyone that he knew in his hay-day as a boxing champ deserting him, rehearsing his nightclub act which is nothing more then a parody of his life. An amazing Acadamy Award performance by Robert Di Niro as the edgy and uncontrollable Jake La Matta who had to gain some 50 pounds, going from a fighting trim of 165 to over 200 lbs, to make the role of Jake La Matta believable.

The film "Raging Bull" also made a star out of the 36 year-old Joe Pesci who was about to call it quits on his acting career until Robert Di Niro himself demanded that he play his tragic, and somewhat unusable, brother Joey.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
***9/10*** "a GeNuiNe CLaSSiC oF iT'S TiMe!"
framer9418 June 2002
One of the most influential movies of the 1980s. Whe you watch this movie, you actually feel taht your watching a movie that was made in the day of it's time. Sorcesse shot the film in b/w to ensure that the audience visualises the world in the gritty/dog-eat-dog society of the time.

The story is about a pre-psycho fighting madman who wont accept victory even though he;s heading straight to the top, and his borther and wife ensure the full heights of his madness and intimidation. At times the movie becoems so believable that the bleak atmosphere of the time, along with the b/w cinematography actually begins to bring you down. A genuine classic ***9/10***
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Probably the best sports movie out there!
DeathSex66620 November 2018
This is in my opinion the best film directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese! While not my favorite I think it's his best. First of all this movie is beautiful, the black and white really works for the type of story it's telling. De Niro and Joe Pesci produce some of their best work as well, even better than Goodfellas in a lot of ways! The sound effects on the boxing ring jumps to mind when thinking of this movie, how they represent the animalistic nature of the main character and how that plays into a scene towards the end of the film. Can't recommend it enough it's an absolute classic! Strong 9/10
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
One of the best?
caseyt-485115 April 2018
The American Film Institute ranked Raging Bull as the 4th greatest movie of all time. Is it? It is a great film for sure. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are both fantastic in it and the black and white cinematography is pure perfection. Martin Scorsese is one of America's greatest filmmakers but he's made better movies. I feel that Goodfellas and Taxi Driver are superior to this movie, as good as it is. The film contains some difficult to watch scenes and isn't for everyone. It's a movie that should be viewed at least once by film maniacs. A great movie for sure, but not Scorsese's best.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
An Oddly Rousing Chronicle of the 'Bronx-Bull'!
sandnair8726 March 2015
Unequivocally unsentimental in every respect, Raging Bull offers a searing character study of boxer Jake La Motta (known as the Raging Bull). Despite being the story of a middle-weight boxer, the movie refuses to be pigeonholed as merely a 'boxing' movie. It reigns as poesy of spectacle and presents a disconcerting vision of a beastly character, who dished out savagery in the ring and also at home, yet rose in his day to be idolized to a certain extent by our pop culture.

Robert De Niro stars as Jake LaMotta, the Bronx-based boxer whose public bouts and private demons Raging Bull chronicles with bruising acuity, without judgment or sympathy. It delves even deeper into the psyche, exploring the destructive life in whimsical detail. Taking us through the highlight reel of LaMotta's life from the early 1940s through the mid-1960s, the film details how the Bronx bruiser boxed his way to professional stardom then lost everything to debilitating paranoia only to find his life in shambles, eventually descending into self-loathing and loneliness. It is a mesmerizing exploration of the mind of an emotionally disconnected man; as likely to crush those he loved as much as his opposition in the ring. It's impossible to resist following such a talented born loser on his inevitable trip into oblivion, though it's not fun. Watching his downfall from champion to pitiful stand-up comedian and club owner is no more enjoyable than it sounds, yet it is immensely rewarding.

One of the triumphs of Martin Scorsese's direction comes from how fascinating Jake remains despite his conspicuous inner rage and crippling sense of sexual insecurity. These inner struggles dovetail with La Motta's performance in the ring, and the film's artful, seemingly improvisatory construction serves to juxtapose these two worlds: the intimate, naturalistic domestic world and the smoky, expressionistic world of the boxing ring. The most obvious basis for the film's claim to greatness lies in Scorsese's devastating critique of the basic codes of masculinity and finally in Robert De Niro's performance, through which that critique is made flesh. De Niro's colossal act (astounding not in the least for his now famous weight gain) firmly holds the film together, virtually hypnotizing the viewer with intensity, pathos, and even innocence. The true power of De Niro's performance rests in his ability to crawl his way into this lug's twisted psyche and air out his personal demons for all to see.

It will be impossible to look away from your screens, much like a real boxing match. And for that, Raging Bull remains a profoundly treasured experience: bold and bloody, yet oddly stirring. What eventually pours out on the screen is pure cinema, and pure Scorsese!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A talented yet emotionally self-destructive boxer's life outside of the ring is destroying any chance that he has to be truly successful.
ryklinker18 December 2014
Right from the start, he's fighting. Fighting in the ring, fighting with the judges, and most of all, fighting with himself. After the first match that we see him in, we see that Jake La Motta is just as much of a fighter with his gloves off as he is with them on, possibly even more so. His home life is very troublesome; with a marriage where every interaction results in an argument, and a brother/manager who only patronizes him even more, being a great boxer is not what he thought. With every winning decision, his life out from under the stadium lights becomes worse. He meets an 18-year-old girl, and her personality is, shall we say, flirtatious in a bad way. It doesn't take long for his jealousy and covetousness of his young wife soon becomes a major distraction, and as the middleweight title gets closer, so does his demise. Considered by most as one of the best sports movies of all time (alongside Field of Dreams, Rudy, Remember the Titans, and Hoosiers), Raging Bull is a great film not only about boxing, but also about a man who is a boxer. One major difference between this film and fellow boxing classic Rocky is that the movie shows more about life outside of the ropes than it does inside. With the total screen-time of actual bouts at roughly 15 minutes, the sport is simply the background to the story of La Motta. What this movie truly is about is a man who is unstable in his everyday life, and he struggles to keep himself from ruining his own career. In this film, Robert De Niro delivers one of the best performances not only of his career, but also possibly of all time. Famously gaining 60 lbs. to play the last part of this character's story, De Niro's performance as the real-life boxer La Motta brought the very intense story to the big- screen. As one of his two Oscar-winning performances, De Niro turned in everything he had, and came home with the deserved recognition. In addition to the Best Actor, Raging Bull also was nominated for Picture, Sound, Supporting Actor for Pesci, Supporting Actress for Moriarty, Director, Sound, Cinematography, and Film Editing, winning the last one. I personally thought that the sound, cinematography, and directing were definitely worthy of their Academy recognition. This film came 4 years after director Martin Scorsese's successful film Taxi Driver, which also featured De Niro. Like Taxi Driver, this film also incorporates the social ineptness of a man, and how this difficulty has an effect on the people around him. At some point between after 1976, Martin Scorsese had become severely addicted to cocaine, and an excessive dosage one day left him in a hospital room. While visiting his great friend, Robert De Niro brought up the idea of making a film based on a book that he had recently read about an old boxer. Though at first hesitant, Scorsese delved into the story of La Motta, and he made this classic as a result. Now I must remind you, this is a rated R movie, and it is deservedly so. As one may expect, the boxing sequences are pretty brutal, with blood and pain visibly flowing throughout. Outside of the ring, both Jake and Joey La Motta engage in many heated arguments, and the language within these scenes is R-worthy in itself. Though nothing is shown, Jake's wife Vicki is very "friendly" with people, and we hear about it in pretty specific detail. With these warnings listed, I still fully promote this film. This is truly a classic film, and if you are able to endure the violence and language, Raging Bull is a must-see for anyone interested in cinematic history. This is definitely a film that requires one's attention. It is not a movie that necessarily keeps the viewer on the edge of his/her seat, and it is more about the story. The pacing is slow at times, and it can lull for a small amount of time. I definitely loved this film, and I wholly recommend this film.

www.sportsandcelluloid.blogspot.com
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Great, intense picture
85122217 September 2014
Greetings from Lithuania.

"Raging Bull" (1980) is a very good picture, great one (like you haven't heard about it yet). It contains superb performances by all involved, and especially by the great Robert De Nido in a lifetime performance. It's gritty, ugly, true and very intense picture, with a great director in his best form - every scene in this picture pulse on tension. Boxing scenes are very disturbing, they are short, and very brutal - although this picture is filmed in black and white, it's look stunning.

Overall, a true gem, called by many the best picture of the 80's. I don't think it's that good, and there are many pictures that i would call equally great, but this one is not to be mist my a true movie lovers.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
DeNiro doesn't come much better than this
adamscastlevania27 September 2014
(89%) You can tell that this is a Scorsese film through the sheer number of aggravated physical brawls (and not forgetting the no less aggressive verbal fights) which break out every 10 minutes or so, and that's not including any of actual boxing matches themselves. And that's this film's finest accomplishment in that Jake LaMotta isn't a nice guy (which is putting it lightly), and yet seeing him fail is no less painful or easy to witness. Predominantly this is a brilliantly well made with the black and white cinematography being more than just a gimmick as it fits into the stark tale, DeNiro I don't think has ever been better, and the use of score is some of the best in any movie. Overall a must watch.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Another reason why you should love De Niro and Scorsese
estebangonzalez1021 April 2014
"The thing ain't the ring, it's the play. So give me a... stage where this bull here can rage and though I could fight I'd much rather recite... that's entertainment."

In 1976 Martin Scorsese teamed up with Robert De Niro and screenwriter Paul Schrader to deliver what in my opinion is one of his best films: Taxi Driver. That year that complex character study lost out on the Oscar to Stallone's Rocky. So what does Scorsese do next? He directs a real boxing movie with another memorable and complex character played by Robert De Niro making Rocky look like a cartoon character. Don't get me wrong, I loved Rocky, but Jake La Motta is a character that feels much more authentic. He's deeply flawed and unpleasant to be around with, but his violent temper is what made him such a successful boxer on the ring. It was actually Robert De Niro who approached Scorsese to make this film based on Jake La Motta's autobiographical book and despite hesitating to make a sports movie at first, he ended up directing what is considered by many to be the best boxing film of all time. The boxing scenes are violent and bloody, but what was most surprising for me was the way in which De Niro captured the rage and paranoia of his character off the ring. La Motta isn't a very sympathetic character and his anger and jealous outbursts led him to his ultimate downfall, but somehow there is still something redeeming about him and De Niro captured that essence perfectly in this Award winning performance. It's much more a character study than a boxing film, but Scorsese also explores Jake La Motta's bond with his brother Joey turning this into a sibling relationship study as well. Jake tries to channel his rage through boxing, but ultimately it defeats him outside of the ring destroying the relationships he has formed. Near the end there is a nice nod to Brando's On the Waterfront, which was a perfect touch by Scorsese who seems to always be in control of his craft and at the same time honoring other famous films. Raging Bull is an artistic film dealing with a difficult subject matter but it still is considered by many as the best film from the 80's. It's a near masterpiece in my opinion with another outstanding lead performance by De Niro, who was without a doubt the best actor at that time.

Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) is the raging bull who during the 40's dominated every rival inside the ring. No one could take hits like he did and despite losing a couple fights he took pride in the fact that he never went down. Jake's brother, Joey (Joe Pesci) is his sparring partner and at the same time he manages his fights so they have a very close relationship. Joey has a few connections with the mob, but Jake refuses to deal with them and wants to get a chance at the title on his own. Joey also introduces him to a fifteen year old girl named Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), whom he later marries. As the years go by, Jake defeats his opponents but the title shot keeps eluding him since he refuses to work with the mob despite Joey's connection with Salvy Batts (Frank Vincent). While Jake's professional boxing career begins to take off, his personal life takes a blow when he allows his jealousy and paranoia to take over as he fears his wife is seeing other men. Despite channeling his rage in the ring, he also takes it out in his home on his wife and brother. What at first served as his inspiration for becoming a boxing champion escalated so much that it also became his downfall and ruin. Raging Bull centers on Jake's self destructive boxing journey and it is a very complex and emotional one. In the midst of it all there is still a redemptive quality to this antihero and he accepts his punishment through personal beatings in the ring.

I don't know if Scorsese would be around making movies today if it weren't for Raging Bull. Just like his lead character Jake, Scorsese was dealing with some personal demons of his own struggling with drug addiction. De Niro convinced him to make this film and somehow he channeled his addictions through his direction. Jake unsuccessfully channeled his rage in the ring, but Marty found redemption for both of them thanks to Raging Bull. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous and the performances were powerful. De Niro gives another physically demanding performance after his work in Taxi Driver and he once again is very impressive. Joe Pesci is also wonderful as he will later become a recurring actor in other Scorsese films. The chemistry between both actors in this film is really strong and they shine together on screen. The boxing scenes were really raw and violent. They are hard to watch at times, and an extreme close up of dripping blood from the rope in the ring really captured the violence that Scorsese was trying to transmit. Raging Bull is a fascinating film which explores the mind of a very emotionally disturbed man who we wouldn't want to be around with, but somehow Scorsese draws us into his mind and he absorbs us.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Raging Bull
Our_Feature_Presentation17 January 2014
This biopic about real life boxer Jake La Motta who is portrayed by Robert De Niro. The movie directed by, you guessed it, Martin Scorsese. The movie starts out with the greatest opening credits sequence of all time, it immediately sets you up for the mood of the movie, introducing you to the atmosphere set in black and white, the music, and Jake La Motta. He may not be speaking but just by the mannerisms you get the vibe of a cold heated, violent man, and in all honesty... he is a cold hearten violent man, you see this throughout the movie in another one of the greatest movie performances of all time again from De Niro. The other major characters are Joey and Vickie La Motta. Both performances are good but Joe Pesci is amazing as Joey the brother to boxer Jake La Motta. Joey and Jake whenever they're on screen together it's very interesting to watch. The way the two actors talk is like they're actually brothers, whether they're bickering or just talking it always feels natural. The movie's script is one of it's many high points. It's very well written that flows great despite needing to cover so many years of events. The movie's soundtrack is also a high point. A great thing that this movie was able to do was the ability to convey many emotions, the tension in the ring, the depressing aspect later in La Motta's life, and a (what I find) heartwarming scene when the audience is shown home movies of Jake La Motta, his wife and kids. The movie remains interesting because your able to witness the violent depressing life of a violent depressing man. Your able to see what to most would be something minor as a big deal in his world (for example when his wife says hi to other men at a restaurant). The boxing scenes are a highlight in the movie, most people may say there unrealistic but I don't care about it's realism, the fights are visually something great, very bloody and brutal also. In the final 15 minutes of the film you see Jake's life once he's retired boxing. Robert De Niro actually gained 60 pounds for those parts of the movie. But those final 15 minutes are actually quite sad, your able to see that his relationships have all fallen apart, his wife divorced him, has custody of his kids, and his brother wants no part of him. But yet he is at peace with himself as the biblical quote at the end explains.

Raging Bull is definitely one of the greatest movies of all time. Boasting one of the greatest performances ever, a marvelous sense of directing, great soundtrack, great script. All of this makes this movie a 9.6 out of 10.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A modern classy masterpiece.
jackasstrange12 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
With a flawless plot, and being arguably one of the best films from the 80s, Raging Bull tells the story of the raise to fame and the decadence of Jake La Motta, a man that is guided by his totally animal-like and impulsive personality. It's a very interesting story, i must say. The idea of making a film about Jake was brought by DeNiro himself, which tried numerous times to convince Scorsese to do the film. Scorsese, in fact, just accepted to do the film after knowing that he could relate himself with Jake.

In the technical aspects of filmmaking, this film is nothing less than great. The cinematography of the fights sequences are breath- taking. Super stylized and very different from the spectator's experience, we have a view of the fight into the ring, with a fast and very well- made edition in these sequences. And a curious fact: one of the film's main reason to be filmed in black and white was because that the colors of the gloves at the time would have only been with dark tones, such as oxblood and even black.

The acting is superb. The then relatively unknown Joe Pesci gives an extraordinary performance as Joey, the Jake's brother. DeNiro was without a doubt great, his dedication to the role leads him to a weight increase from 145 to 215 pounds (66 to 97 kg) to portray the post-boxing life of Jake. He also choreographed the fight scenes with the help of the real Jake La Motta. Not surprisingly, his job in the portrayal of Jake La Motta brought to him an Academy Award of best actor in a lead role.

I can proudly say that this film is without a doubt one of my favorites of the 80s.

So, Highly recommended. 9.4/10
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A "raging " triumph
ankurjayawant6 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Raging Bull is more about a boxer's life out of the ring. Shot entirely in black and white,it is based on the turbulent career and life of the two time middleweight champion Jake La Motta.

The film opens in 1964 where an aging & overweight Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro) is rehearsing his lines for a standup comedy act. The scene then moves to two decades earlier with JakeLaMotta losing his first major match. Jake's brother & agent Joey (Joe Pesci) discusses his chances for a potential title shot with one of his mafia connections, Salvy Batts (Frank Vincent). He starts a relationship with a 15 year old Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) inspite of being married. He defeats Sugar Ray Robinson twice but is denied victory in the second bout due to judges. He finally marries Vickie, his love for her gradually becoming an obsession. Frequent fights erupt, most of which end in Vickie being abused physically. In one of his bouts, which he wins against Tony Janiro he brutally smashes the latter's face because he knows that Vickie finds him attractive. Later , discussing Jake's victory with journalists in a night club, Joey spots Vickie in the company of Salvy and his friends. He attacks Salvy and injures him badly in a fight. The mafia head asks Jake to throw his next match in order to have a title fight. As a result, Jake is disqualified. However, he wins the middleweight title in his next bout against Marcel Cerdan in 1949.

The title win and subsequent success the following year do nothing to quell his jealousy about Vickie, his insecurities only become worse. Things come to the worst one day when he blatantly asks Joey whether he and Vickie have something going in between them. Joey leaves, disgusted. Unmoved, he confronts Vickie asking her the same, to which she replies, fed up of the routine torture, that she has relations with Joey and every man in the neighbourhood. Enraged, Jake goes to Joey's house and beats him up brutally in front of his family. That spells the end of relations between the two brothers.

Jake defends his title against Laurent Dauthille in 1950, a match even his estranged brother Joey watches on TV. He calls Joey in an attempt to reconcile but is unable to speak anything when Joey answers the phone.He never tries to call his brother again. His career slowly starts to go downhill and he loses his title to Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951.

The scene then cuts to 1956 with a now obese LaMotta, having moved to Miami and running a nightclub. Vickie soon asks for a divorce,which she had been planning since his retirement. She gets the custody of the children and moves away. Jake then suddenly gets arrested one morning on the charge of introducing underage girls (posing as 21 year olds) to other patrons of his nightclub. He is jailed being unable to raise enough money for parole even after selling his title belt. In a memorable scene, he bangs his head and pounds the walls of his prison cell, crying and repenting his actions and questioning his misfortune. The scene then moves to 1958.On being freed, he moves back to New York and continues his gigs at various night clubs in addition to managing them. One night, he sees Joey on the street. He calls out to him and asks him to forgive him, but Joey keeps walking. Finally he catches him near his car and hugs him and asks for forgiveness. Joey reluctantly forgives him and drives away without another word. Back to the first scene in 1964 where La Motta is practicing his lines and in between pondering what might have been had things been a little different and had Joey looked out for him .A stagehand informs that his act is ready and the last shot of the film shows Jake exiting the dressing room, shadowboxing like the older days.

This isn't a biopic about a idol because this is anything but a hero. Its a story of a man who inspite of reaching great heights in the ring is pulled down to the abyss because of his abhorrent behaviour outside it. Like his other works, Scorsese does not add a bit of pleasantry but shows realism, with human nature at its ugliest, the usual expletive laced dialogues and grimness.

This is arguably Robert DeNiro's best performance & the most physically demanding role any actor can have.Not for a moment does he even try to make the viewer feel any sympathy for or like the hatred and envy filled character he is playing. Jake LaMotta on screen is the exact opposite to Rocky Balboa . Rocky is a hero in everyman who we root for in his quest to reach for the sky. For Jake, who already has reached the top, the viewer feels only revulsion and later on pity, when he begins his downward slide. To prepare for the role, DeNiro trained vigourously for weeks under the real Jake LaMotta,even fighting and winning some amateur matches. Production was halted for four months and DeNiro went on a binge eating spree on gourmet food across Europe in order to add nearly 30 kilos to portray the older La Motta. On seeing his performance, the real LaMotta quipped "I never knew that I was that bad".DeNiro deservedly won the Oscar for the Best Actor for this role where he had in his usual style erased the difference between reality and celluloid.Joe Pesci who was an unknown actor at this time, is great as Joey. He very aptly portrays the brother who tries his best to stick with his sibling but puts and end to the whole thing when it gets beyond redemption. Cathy Moriarty is impressive as Vicky in her debut film but couldn't live upto the promise she showed in this film.

A must watch simply for the appreciation of good cinema.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed