In 1978, a year after “New York, New York” bombed at the box office, falling into deep depression, Martin “Marty” Scorsese nearly died from a fatal drug overdose. His pal, Robert “Bobby” De Niro convinced him to get himself into rehab so they can team-up to adapt Jake La Motta’s autobiographical book titled, “Raging Bull: My Life Story” into a sports drama. After a full recovery, Bobby persuades Marty several times to get back on track. Although not a sports fan, Marty became fascinated with Jake’s life story, so he recruited Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ) to pen the script. Two Years Later, “Raging Bull” was officially distributed worldwide.
Raging Bull was released in 1980. (same year The Shining came out) It received unanimous praise from critics and movie goers alike. Robert De Niro won his second Oscar for “Best Actor.” Unfortunately, the film didn’t win “Best Picture.” Raging Bull is considered as one of the best sports movies of all time. In 1990, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation at the National Film Registry. American Film Institute or AFI for short, ranked Raging Bull as the fourth greatest movie from their list known as “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies.” Several famous people such as Joaquin Phoenix, Spike Lee, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Linklater, and the late Roger Ebert mentioned Raging Bull as one of their favorite films.
Martin Scorsese with reunite with Robert De Niro & Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon” intended to stream on Apple TV. One more thing, Raging Bull is digitally restored on 4K by The Criterion Collection available on Blu-Ray. As I’m prepping up for Marty’s upcoming project, I wanna share my thoughts on this classic sports drama.
I’m giving some of you a chance to see Raging Bull without listing any SPOILERS.
Victory & Defeat Aspects
Victory: Robert De Niro did an excellent job for his Oscar winning performance as Jake La Motta. To prepare for the role, Bobby took boxing lessons with the real Jake, studied the subject’s mannerisms and participated in actual boxing matches. Production went on hiatus giving Bobby several months to gain weight. Meaning, he didn’t wear a fatsuit. A miracle he never suffered a heart attack. Now that’s Method Acting at its finest.
Other Cast Members such as Joe Pesci & Cathy Moriarty both did a great job for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: This is the first collaboration between Bobby & Joe. They also appeared in “Goodfellas,” “Casino” & “The Irishman.” They’re also good friends in real life.
Martin Scorsese did a decent job directing.
Paul Schrader adapted Jake’s autobiography penning important aspects on both boxing career and personal life. Bobby & Marty polished the script uncredited.
John Turturro makes his big screen debut. I’m not kidding. Look up his filmography.
Cinematography is primarily shot in black and white. Shot perfectly never suffering from technical difficulties. A Montage Sequence mimicking a home video is the only time color was used.
Although is a serious sport drama, there’s some funny moments. My favorite joke is a phone call scene with Jake and his brother, Joey.
Practial Effects were used such as Hershey’s chocolate syrup to mimic blood. Which takes advantage of the movie shot in black and white.
Pacing never felt slow or fast.
Set Pieces and Costume Designs reflect a specific time period in the 40s, 50s and early 60s.
Jake’s first boxing match officially establishes he’s brutal fighter.
Unlike most sports movies, this one isn’t lighthearted like “Rocky.” This is a serious drama based on a real person with flaws who goes through a path of self-destruction at the cost of his career and loved ones.
Primary Themes are Self-Destruction, Violence, Fame, Honesty, Masculinity & Redemption. Each one is handled maturely.
Defeat: I couldn’t find anything wrong. I’m giving Marty and his crew an Extra Point for making a flawless biopic as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Raging Bull is arguably Martin Scorsese’s best film in the 80s. It still holds up upon release. If you’re excited for The Criterion Collection’s digitally restored edition on 4K, it’s a must buy for Criterion fans. I cannot wait to see Killers of the Flower Moon. It’s one of my highly anticipated movies of 2022.