Raging Bull (1980) Review

We are taken on the journey of Jake La Motta’s (De Niro) life and seeing how his no-nonsense boxing style transferred to outside of the ring, causing him to push his family away.

The first thing that really struck me with this film was how beautiful it looked all the way through. I think that is due to the fact that it is in black and white. It really made it feel like such an artistic film. This may seem slightly strange when you think how destructive Jake is and becomes as the film goes on.

He is destructive in the boxing ring to his opponents, so destructive that he got to a point when nobody would fight him. They were all scared of the beating they would receive once inside the ring. Jake’s manager was his brother Joey (Pesci) who to begin with appears to be exactly like Jake, but that is far from the case as we get further into the story when Jake pushes him away by accusing him of sleeping with his wife Vickie.

The boxing scenes really help to show us how much the sport has changed since the 1940’s. A fighter like Jake would not be allowed to step foot in the ring anymore, as that is just too violent for the sport now. The fighting scenes really did feel like they were straight from some footage from the 40’s, another reason for the artistic feel to the film.

Jake used to beat his wife Vickie, which caused scenes which were rather difficult to watch. As he really did end up boxing her at times. Which eventually made her leave him, with their children. It was no surprise after the fall out with his brother and splitting from his wife that Jake would eventually end up in prison. Mistaking a 14 year old go for a 21 year old in his club.

Jake did have some kind of strange charm to him as well, especially when he would get up in the club and talk on the microphone. He really did seem to have some power over women, as throughout the film they did seem to want to be with him.

De Niro won best actor for his performance as Jake and you can see why from the first few minutes of this film. His physical appearance is so different to what we are used to, he really did become La Motta. So much that by the end of the film when Jake had put on all the weight De Niro was unrecognisable with the extra 60lbs he put on to complete the downfall. Joe Pesci was also brilliant as Joey, he stood up to Jake at times when everyone else would try to get away from him. When he would lash out in temper.

Raging Bull will be a film that I cannot understand why I have not seen it before now. My passion is for sport and I just love boxing. I really did enjoy this film, as we often see the rise of a sports person. But this film shows us the fall, and how it can affect so many people on the way down.

5 thoughts on “Raging Bull (1980) Review

  1. I actually wish I could go back and “see it for the first time” all over again. Glad you finally got to see it, and of course that you loved it.

    Fun fact: Scorsese decided to film the movie in black & white to keep that violence intact. He knew that were the censors to see all of that bloody red, that he’d never get it played…but byu flipping it to b&w, it strangely seems that much more violent.

    (Always loved that shot of the blood dripping off the rope)

    Great post on a truly great film!


    • That is a very interesting fact! Yeah the blood was used is such a brilliant way throughout the boxing scenes.

      I am pleased that I can now say that I have seen this great film!


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