By Drew Turney
Another undisputed classic, one magazines talk about in hushed tones when they mention the more famous work of a great director. As such, the question that inevitably arises in one’s mind when watching such films is ‘is this as great a movie as everyone thinks?’
Not half an hour in my response was a resounding ‘no’. Watching a story about a character couldn’t have been more unattractive, and it was as if De Niro, Scorsese and co wanted to make a movie about the worst possible person they could find. I found myself asking why I’d want to share the life of such a thug who didn’t deserve any of his success and got what he deserved through his own pride, stupidity and brutality.
So the only reason to watch the film is for the performances, and although De Niro’s talent far outshines his choice of roles nowadays, this was the actor at his absolute peak.
Jake La Motta was a postwar boxer from New York who rose to the top while alienating everyone from his headstrong wife (Moriarty) to his brother and manager Joey (Pesci) with his paranoia and unchecked temper.
All sorts of visual tricks subliminally convey La Motta’s journey, like the filming of his later fights in larger boxing rings to reflect his diminishing soul, and the story chronicles La Motta’s early success while leapfrogging decades to bring us his post-career decline as a fat, corrupt nightclub owner just asking to be nabbed for his many transgressions.
Powerful — undoubtedly. Classic — most certainly. Enjoyable — not a whit.
Blu-Ray Details and Extras
If you’ve got the 2009 release, no need to upgrade – as far as I can tell this one possesses the very same transfer with only a couple of new extra features.
Ported over from the previous release are three commentary tracks (one with Scorsese and his editor; another with some cast members; and another with the people responsible for the story, including La Motta himself), Cathy Mortiarty’s interview on The Tonight Show, An exhaustive making-of documentary called “Raging Bull : Fight Night” and several other shorter featurettes.
New to this release is “Marty and Bobby”, a series of interviews with De Niro and Scorsese in which they talk about the films they’ve made together, including this one; an interview with Scorsese in which he discusses his upbringing and career; as well as a couple of other featurettes – one on La Motta, and another in which various filmmakers talk about Scorsese’s film. All good stuff, and by all means if you haven’t got “Raging Bull” on Blu-ray this is definitely the one to grab, but if you do own a copy of the film in 1080p, no need to double dip.