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Drama, Biography, Sport
IMDB rating:
Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta
Cathy Moriarty as Vickie La Motta
Joe Pesci as Joey
Frank Vincent as Salvy
Nicholas Colasanto as Tommy Como
Theresa Saldana as Lenore
Mario Gallo as Mario
Frank Adonis as Patsy
Joseph Bono as Guido
Frank Topham as Toppy
Charles Scorsese as Charlie - Man with Como
Don Dunphy as Himself - Radio Announcer for Dauthuille Fight
Bill Hanrahan as Eddie Eagan
Storyline: When Jake LaMotta steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he's a prizefighter. But when he treats his family and friends the same way, he's a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any moment. Though LaMotta wants his family's love, something always seems to come between them. Perhaps it's his violent bouts of paranoia and jealousy. This kind of rage helped make him a champ, but in real life, he winds up in the ring alone.
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Over-rated, not Scorsese's best.
You have to honor Robert's dedication to the role. But despite quality acting he's nonetheless portraying a totally unlikable, one dimensional character: he's a brutal, paranoid wife-beater. In the jail cell towards the end he seems to have a brief moment of acknowledging his shortcomings. But his character arc is non-existing, as nothing much changes for him. In that regard he is a very Shakespearean character that ends up lonely. But the emotional impact is only mild since it was nearly impossible to sympathize with Jake for the whole movie. At some point you might strongly root for Jake's wife, but even she is a passive and rather unimpressive character.

The film does not have many memorable scenes – only the last boxing fight and the TV scene qualify. The last boxing fight has a very effective visual style. All black and white, blood, gore. It signals that it's all downhill from here on for Jake. Apart from that, the camera work is rather unimpressive.

In summary, the movie seems rather over-rated. It depicts the character of the "Raging Bull" and his famous temper very convincingly. But it takes two hours to tell the story of the consequential downfall of this man and once it's over, you want at least half an hour back. The story did not bore me at any point, but it did not force me to the edge of my seat either. It does not stand for repeated re-watching, unless you're interested in doing a character study.
Raging Bull explores the soul of a profoundly violent man and search for the human core buried deep inside him.
Raging Bull is one of the bloodiest and most beautiful reflections on atonement in director Martin Scorsese's canon... it's still one of the cinema's most breathtaking films. It chronicles the rise to fame of an unlikable but virtually unstoppable middle-weight boxer (Robert De Niro), based on the autobiography of Jake La Motta, nicknamed the Bronx Bull.

Filmed largely in black-and-white, this tough, compelling, powerfully made melodrama takes us uncomfortably close to the jarring action in the ring. An astonishing performance from De Niro, who inhabits the role to an eerie extent, and Scorsese orchestrates events with the aim of capturing the crunching reality of this world. It's brutal, and not a single character truly engages one's sympathy, but there's undeniably a visual poetry about it.
A modern classy masterpiece.
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
Fantastic acting and many memorable moments
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.
That was a bird, it's dead now !!!!
There has been a consistent complaint against Martin Scorsese regarding the fact that the protagonists in most of his films are horrible people and Scorsese makes us watch these horrible people do horrible things and so it is very difficult to find anything likable about them. While I agree that many of Scorsese's protagonists are questionable individuals, but Scorsese doesn't just use them and make them do reprehensible acts on screen just for the shock factor. He has always attempted to deeply study these characters. He explores the environment surrounding his characters and in a way he seeks to find the source and the reasons behind the behaviours and natures of his characters. His protagonists aren't always likable, but they are pretty much always interesting and multi-layered.

Raging Bull starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty is a biopic based on the life of famed boxing legend Jake Lamotta. The main character is certainly not an individual that you would like to spend too much time with. He is a misogynist, he is massively insecure, he is violent and regularly assaults his wife throughout the film. The boxing ring and the fights are used as a dramatic theme to show and reveal what Lamotta is thinking and what he is going through emotionally. The boxing ring also acts as a means for Jake to legally vent his frustration and all his accumulated anger. Jake Lamotta, in the film at least, is the result of the environment that he grew up in. It is hinted from time to time that maybe he had to spend his childhood in the midst of extensive poverty, which probably has made him as hard and as abrasive as he is shown to be. He has always aimed for the stars and wanted to achieve his goals without anyone else's help. This is a reason why he always refrains from taking the assistance of the mafia, just to glorify his independence. He views everything as a goal or a trophy. The house that he has bought for his father is a trophy to him and a symbol of self assurance that he is a big shot. His car is a trophy which he uses to woo his then would be wife Vickie. But this uncontrolled materialistic mindset gives birth to a massive sense of misogyny. When he meets his future wife Vickie, he only sees her superficial features like her figure, her legs, her cheekbones, etc. So in a way he sees her only as a human trophy and like everything he has achieved before, he makes it his mission to win her. But once he gets her, he never makes an effort to get close to her emotionally. Another thing that is so apparent about the character of Lamotta is his insecurity. After his marriage, this insecurity of his constantly makes him suspicious about his wife's supposed infidelity which slowly drives him mad. These insecurities lead to volcanic eruptions of rage throughout the film, and the ironic thing about it is that the rage that initially made him a world renowned boxer in the ring also destroys his personal life. The eccentric and violent life he leads ultimately also makes it difficult for him to maintain his performances in the boxing ring.

Apart from Jake Lamotta and Vickie, another brilliantly interesting character is that of Joey played by Joe Pesci. His back and forth dialogue with De Niro is absolutely fascinating. The two brothers clearly need each other and really love each other, but the underlying anger between the two brothers is also apparent.

The direction by Martin Scorsese is another character in the film effectively. He makes us completely engaged in the plight of this character. The direction is so intense, that you can't help but feel drained out. You feel the punches, you feel the knockouts and you can't help but feel connected with Lamotta even if you hate him. The fight scenes are some of the most intense scenes I have ever seen. The cinematography is awe inspiring. The film is in black and white and it looks beautiful. I think Scorsese made the film in black and white as a means to recapture the essence of the films in the 1940s and 1950s which are the decades portrayed in the movie.

Last but by no means least,I have to talk about the editing. Scorsese's long time collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker edits this film with a passion. The editing during the boxing scenes is just awe- inspiring. The zoom-ins, the slow motions, the tracking shots are all perfect.

As soon as the opening credits come on the screen with Lamotta jumping around and practicing his punches in the background in slow motion, I knew this was going to be a masterpiece. Interestingly while we look at Lamotta in slow motion in the opening credits sequence, throughout the film Scorsese shows us many things in slow motion from Lamotta's point of view which reveal what his mind is preoccupied with at that precise moment which range from lust, jealousy and rage.

Raging Bull is a masterpiece made by an auteur in his signature intense style. Jake Lamotta is not your regular hero. He is flawed and imperfect. But Scorsese's rich character study makes him iconic due to his imperfections in the movie and the film ends with a monologue sequence that is absolutely heartbreaking.
"The man's got a head of rock".
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.
Easy to Admire, Difficult to Love

The routine use of black-and-white film to make movies seems to have ended in the mid-sixties, probably killed off by the advent of colour television. Since then black-and-white has been used very sparingly; even Polanski's `Chinatown', obviously conceived as homage to the films noirs of the 1940s and 1950s, was shot in colour.

`Raging Bull'- a biography of the boxer Jake La Motta who for a time held the world middleweight championship- is one of the few exceptions. The use of black-and-white seems to have been inspired by the fact that the film depicts real-life events that occurred in the forties and fifties. Scorsese has tried to capture the look of both the films and the newsreels of that period. This is remarkably effective for the boxing scenes, which have a raw, brutal power and graphically depict the aggressive nature of the sport. The other remarkable thing about the film is the performance of Robert de Niro, for which he won a well-deserved Best Actor Academy Award. De Niro actually learned to box for the film, and did all the boxing scenes himself without using a stunt double, but his portrayal of La Motta's private life is equally effective.

Some boxers- Henry Cooper comes to mind- are hard-hitting inside the ring but gentlemanly and restrained outside. La Motta, as portrayed in this film, did not fall into this category. De Niro portrays him as a man with a very short fuse, seething with anger and violence. Unlike his great rival Sugar Ray Robinson, an elegant practitioner of the art of boxing, La Motta tries to overpower his rivals with brute force rather than relying on skill. His aggression is not something confined to the ring, but rather an inherent part of his personality, and comes out in his dealings with others. He treats his beautiful wife Vicki particularly badly, frequently (and irrationally) suspecting her of infidelity and subjecting her to both verbal and physical abuse. Besides De Niro's dominating performance, there are also very good contributions from Cathy Moriarty as Vicki and from Joe Pesci as La Motta's loyal brother Joey, another frequent target of abuse despite his loyalty.

For me, this is a very good film, yet one that falls just short of the classic status that some have claimed for it. At times it is enthralling to watch, but at others, particularly in the first half, it seems to lack structure, as La Motta takes on a series of opponents without the significance of these fights ever becoming clear. More could have been made of the gambling-inspired corruption that infested the sport at this period and which may well have contributed to La Motta's sense of frustration- at one time it is made clear to him that his getting a chance to fight for the world title depends upon his taking a dive in a non-title fight. The main weakness, however, is a sense of emptiness at its centre, resulting from the lack of a character who can engage our sympathies. As I said, it is De Niro's performance that dominates the film, but for all his fine acting, even he cannot make us sympathise with a drunken, self-pitying, paranoid, violent wife-beater. As a character study of an unpleasant character it is excellent, but it can go no further than that. I cannot agree that this is the greatest film of the eighties; indeed, for me it was not even the greatest sporting film of the eighties. (I preferred both `Chariots of Fire' and `Eight Men Out'). It is an easy film to admire, but a difficult one to love. 7/10.
Raging Bull follows the life of Jake LaMotta who is a hard-nosed, stubborn, punk from Bronx, NY.
Raging Bull is a movie of pure raw emotion of anger, jealously, and grief. A film directed by Martin Scorsese, Raging Bull is a prototypical Scorsese movie as it deals with themes of failure for a man to understand the complexities in life. Another Scorsese movie that emulates this theme is "Taxi Driver". Raging Bull chronicles a prize fighter's journey through success and ultimate failures. Scorsese puts the viewer in a position to understand that in a prize fighter's mind there is no room to see the things that are happening around him. You see a man who is blinded by his insecurities of jealously and paranoia toward a woman who he is infatuated with.

Raging Bull follows the life of Jake LaMotta who is a hard-nosed, stubborn, punk from Bronx, NY. LaMotta grows up in the slums where he uses his hard knock upbringing to become a boxing prize fighter who wins the middleweight championship. As the fame and money started rolling in, LaMotta loses millions as his jealously, greed, anger, and paranoia get the better of him. Before, LaMotta wins the title there's a flashback to the series of events that has resulted in present day where LaMotta is an old out of shape aspiring comedian.

From the beginning, Jake LaMotta and his brother Joey are the center of controversy. Joey doubles as Jake's sparring partner and fight organizer. Everything seems to take a turn when Jake and Joey make a trip to the public swimming pool where the camera angles to a 15 year old girl named Vickie that catches the eye of Jake. Joey who reiterates to Jake that he is already married; however, decides that he would invite Vickie out for the day. Eventually, Jake marries Vickie where he becomes consumed by the thought that she is cheating on him. By his own jealously and paranoia, LaMotta goes on to use his anger and confusion to win the title and later lose it after his guilt finally is too much to handle.

The movie dwindles down and after a few years Jake LaMotta announces his retirement and his plans for buying a nightclub. This leads to Vickie telling Jake that she wants a divorce and had been planning to since his retirement announcement. As things seem to be crashing down around LaMotta who is soon arrested for introducing men at the nightclub to under-age girls. LaMotta spends nights crying in his cell but eventually serves his time and returns home to New York. Scorsese intertwines the theme throughout the movie of a man being lost within himself confined by the emotions of greed, jealously, and paranoia. In the end it all culminates in his return when he meets up with Joey where they share a nervous moment.
The Story of a Brother, Husband, Boxer, Comedian and Human Being
I've been wanting to watch 'Raging Bull' for a long time. Finally 'got the collector's edition DVD and watched it. Now I can see why people call it one of the best movies. Yes, I absolutely loved it but it's one of those films that makes you think (long after the credits have rolled) and when you think about it you understand it better and appreciate it more.

The screenplay is tight, concise and balanced. There's been some very skillfully wonderful editing. Nothing is loud or over the top or irrelevant to the main plot. Cinematography deserves mention as the camera movements are fantastic and very effective. Lighting and sound effect deserve mention too (as its a black and white movie and must have been one of the hardest tasks to achieve, while the sound is very well balanced).

'Raging Bull' tells the story of the infamous Jake La Motta (played excellently by the one and only Robert de Niro). Its classification as a boxing movie is totally erroneous because the film is just too much more for it to be labelled as such. And by giving such a label one would be ignoring it's brilliance. Yes, boxing is a part of Jake's life (it's what he does for a living) and that's how it's portrayed. It hardly had any significant resemblance to other Boxing movies like Rocky etc. The film is more about his relationship with his brother and wife, his ups and down in his professional life ie, his rise and fall to and from fame.

'Raging Bull' belongs to Robert de Niro but Joe Pesci (as the brother and manager) and Cathy Moriarty (as the wife) are equally effective in their smaller roles. The relationship between the brothers was very moving and one can't help but feel bad for La Motta when he tries to reach out to his brother in one of the final scenes. Moriarty gives a very subtle performance of the tolerant wife.

Even though we see La Motta as this mean hateful jerk, we see his vulnerable side and feel sympathy. Maybe that's also why his wife Vickie stood by him through all these years. It's also interesting to see that he wasn't physically abusive to his previous wife but towards Vickie he was quite violent. His brother too tries to protect him and his family (although he has his share of flaws) but in the end when La Motta's paranoia takes over things go from sour to very bad. We just see how human these characters are and at times we hate them, we like them and we feel sorry for them.

Martin Scorsese deserves special mention for putting this beautiful piece of work on the glass canvas. He obviously has a very compelling way to tell the story. It is without any doubt one of his finest works and it has stood the test of time (one of the greatest achievements for a director I suppose).
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