Raging Bull - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Raging Bull Reviews

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July 24, 2016
The rise and fall of a broken man. Probably the best perfomance of De Niro's career, and one of the greatest pictures directed by Martin Scorsese.
July 23, 2016
If there's great acting in this movie, somebody needs to wake me up for it.
June 27, 2016
10 out of 10:

Gripping, brutal, well directed, and the best performance from Robert De Niro, Raging Bull claims the championship for best boxing movie.
½ June 24, 2016
Incredible biopic about the boxing legend Jake LaMotta, Scorsese show the rise and fall of the champ in an amazing way, the boxing scenes are incredible and the performances by De Niro and Pesci unbelievable, definitively one of Scorsese's best films ever.
June 22, 2016
Another mediocre classic. Scorsese's main characters are all similarly despicable and hard for me to relate too/understand. A thorough and probably formerly revolutionary look at an anti-hero's pyschy.
June 19, 2016
Powerful, intense, acted to perfection. However the third act drags and doesn't fully know when to end
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2016
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.
½ May 31, 2016
It's interesting how the protagonist of Raging Bull is almost completely unlikeable, yet you still want him to succeed. Robert De Niro does a great job of losing himself in the character of Jake LaMotta, and this is before Joe Pesci went full Joe Pesci, which is interesting to see. Plus, Martin Scorsese tells the story in a unique and stylized way. This movie may be a bit overrated, but I definitely feel like it should have won the Best Picture in 1980 instead of Ordinary People.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2016
With quite possibly the greatest performance in the history of cinema, Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is both haunting and powerful, exploring the themes of self-destruction and defeat in the most heartbreaking way possible. The boxing scenes are stellar, and the Scorsese's direction is brilliant in every way possible.
May 13, 2016
A masterpiece, plain and simple. DeNiros commitment to playing this completely unsympathetic character is really affecting and so impressive.
½ April 30, 2016
Extremely intense and extremely hard to watch, with sometimes excessive dialogue, I still understand how the film is regarded as a masterpiece.
April 24, 2016
The last masterpiece of "old Holliwood" and the first masterpiece of "new Holliwood".
April 23, 2016
Raging Bull may be a Boxing Movie Classic, but I still prefer Rocky. Scorsese loves to portray italian americans who apparently can only be mobsters or boxers; aggressive people nonetheless. Overall it's a good movie about a person with anger issues, very well acted by De Niro. Also, one of my thoughts watching this movie: Joe Pesci may be the most italian-american ever.
April 5, 2016
Martin Scorsese has made an art-filled portrayal of a man that many would call an animal. Raging Bull was a film project that Robert Deniro wanted to do after he watched Jake LaMotta's autobiography and read the book the film was based on. It was thanks to Deniro that saved Scorsese's life from his troubled phase when he saw something in common between LaMotta and his life around the time making the film.

Robert Deniro was phenomenal as Jake LaMotta, breathing new life to a character in ways that made his performance really astonishing back then. He got in shape to play a boxer and then put on a hulking amount of weight to play his has-been alter-ego in the later part. I really like how Deniro acts against Joe Pesci as his brother, who by the way, was Pesci's major film role that got him public recognition around the time when he was thinking of quitting on his acting career. Most of my favourite scenes are with Deniro and Pesci in the picture playing off as brothers.

Paul Schrader who wrote Taxi Driver gave the same raw, insightful treatment to the film as he did for Taxi driver. The screenplay was relentless, yet enticing to see in motion picture. His work had fleshed out the main character in ways that makes him real or at best interesting.

There are many problems with Jake LaMotta himself as a human being. He is angry, mean, ugly, judgmental, paranoid and violent worst of all. He has the rough aspect of being human such as perseverance and physicality. Jake LaMotta possesses no real redeeming qualities that would consider him a decent person in the eye of society. He even asked his ex-wife if he was that bad in real life after watching this film. She told him that he was worse.

I love the black and white cinematography for Raging Bull that gives it the mid-century. It also makes the film look more timeless, aging much better than if it was in colour. During the montage sequence that does feature colour, it is a cleaver form of storytelling without words that glamourizes LaMotta's life. How they film the boxing scenes were mesmerizing as far as how brutal and hyperbolic it appears. There are parts like the face of a boxer is bursting open with blood or how much smoke is brewing around them like they are descending to hell.

Now I hate it when people come into these films having fixed expectations and end up hating it. Raging Bull is not all about boxing since it is only a backdrop. It revolves around the character study of a man retaining an abusive lifestyle and paranoid oversights during his prime. And whatever I said earlier about Jake LaMotta was referring to him, not the actor playing him. Raging Bull is a masterpiece that easily stands out among others in that decade and is definitely on my top 3 best films by Scorsese.
March 28, 2016
Its an absolute masterpiece from Scorsese and De Niro. Right from scene one wherein De Niro starts his monologue preparing for the script for the comedy stand till the very last scene, again a monologue from the famous film "On the Waterfront". The movie makes you wonder and spare a thought about a man who had achieved so much and yet fell to such a level wherein he would long forget the past glory he had achieved. I've seen a lot of films of De Niro but this one is certainly is the best. Some of the scenes like the one in jail where he hits the wall and sobs saying that "Im not an animal, Im not that bad" is superb or the scene where he suspects his brother having an affair with Vicky. Scorsese's technique of camera work and light along with the Black and White charm adds more importance to the film and its set up. Its hard to digest that the film was not accepted as a Best Picture contender by Academy, but rest assured everyone knows what this film is. As someone said, "great work dont need labels, awards or honour, they need the vision to foresee what makes it great".
March 27, 2016
Another great biopic film this time helm by Martin Scorsese and fantastically lead by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. It shows that it can be a bloody and visceral without needing a colorful picture.
½ March 6, 2016
Even with De Niro and Pesci being in their prime and some classic moments of cinematography in general, I think Raging Bull didn't quite stand the test of time. As put anywhere else, intentionally uncomfortable to watch.
February 29, 2016
A guy flick. Graphic boxing and Lamotta is the background, but strong undertones about defining yourself as man and the fears that come with it. Cinematography is about as good as it gets.
½ February 10, 2016
Holy shit, that lighting. If it suffers from anything it's the fact it's a true story, so it gets frustrating when the great scenes where LaMotta's paranoia gets the best of him and a creeping sense of dread starts to build are undercut when they're followed by a scene that essentially starts, "So, anyway, a couple of years later..." and then the next chapter in this guy's life is recounted. But Scorsese powers through it to create a beautiful film, in spite of a not very interesting story.
February 1, 2016
Might be my favorite Scorsese film up there with Taxi Driver and Robert De Niro provides the best acting of his career
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