Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 14, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Wonderful PQ, AQ plust three wonderful audio commentaries, a wonderful making of 1.5 hour long featurette and plenty of special features, if you truly enjoy this Martin Scorsese masterpiece, “Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a must-own and a must-buy!
Images courtesy of © 1980 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. 2010 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1980
DURATION: 129 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Dolby Surround, AVC@26MBPS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2011
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Based on the book “Raging Bull” by Jake LaMotta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage
Screenplay by Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin
Produced by Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler
Associate Producer: Hal W. Polaire
Produced by Peter Savage
Cinematography by Michael Chapman
Edited by Thelma Schoonmaker
Casting by Cis Corman
Set Decoration by Phil Abramson, Frederic C. Weller, Carl Biddiscombe
Costume Design by John Boxer, Richard Bruno
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
Lori Anne Flax as Irma
Charles Scorsese as Charlie – Man with Como
Bill Hanrahan as Eddie Eagan
DANCES WITH WOLVES tells the story of Lieutenant John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) who chooses a posting on the American Frontier and is soon accepted into a local Sioux tribe.The tribe names him “Dances with Wolves” and as time passes he falls in love with the beautiful “Stands with a Fist” (played by Mary McDonnell), a white woman adopted by the Sioux when her family was killed. John’s blissful new life is soon disrupted, however, when American soldiers advance on the frontier threatening the Sioux people. John is forced to make a decision that will not only affect him, but also the lives of those he now calls his people.
Raging Bull Featurette Clip – “Marty On Film – Director Martin Scorsese Comments On How Films Used To Get Made”
Raging Bull Featurette Clip – “Remembering Jake – Past Fighters Gather Together And Reminisce About Jake LaMotta”
Raging Bull Featurette Clip – “Raging Bull – Reflections On A Classic – Various Directors Reflect On The Film”
Raging Bull Featurette Clip – “Marty And Bobby”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “Up Against A Tough Fighter”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “I Didn’t Go Down, Ray”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “Do You Want A Title Shot?”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “That’s Entertainment”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “We’re Getting a Divorce”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “The Pool”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “LaMotta Vs. Robinson For The Third Time”
Raging Bull Film Clip – “Sugar Ray Beats LaMotta”
Raging Bull Trailer
Back in the 1940’s, Jake LaMotta was one of the most talented middleweight boxing athlete in America. Electrifying and scary, his tactic of getting close to his opponent and punishing them with blow after blow earned him the nickname “Bronx Bull” or better yet, “The Raging Bull”.
But as electrifying and fierce as his style was in the boxing ring, his personal life was full of jealousy, obsession, anger, ignorance and eventually throwing a boxing match in order to get himself closer to the mafia in order to earn a title match.
Although considered one of the best boxers in the last century, there was more to LaMotta’s life which was captured in his 1970 memoir “Raging Bull: My Story”.
With the success of “Rocky” in 1976, Americans had an interest in boxing movies and what best than to work on a story that dealt with a real champ who had significant personal issues, a full-length movie adaptation of LaMotta’s memoir and who best to direct it than Martin Scorsese, who was riding high from the success of his films “Taxi Driver” (1976) and “New York, New York” (1977) and Scorsese and De Niro worked together on the 1973 film “Mean Streets” (which would be the time when De Niro started to persuade Scorsese in considering “Raging Bull”). The film would be the first for actress Cathy Moriarty and the second for upcoming actor at the time, Joe Pesci.
Although at the time of release, because of its violent boxing content and domestic violence, the film had mixed reviews from critics. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two, Robert De Niro for best actor and “Best Film Editing” by Thelma Schoonmaker.
But overtime, “Raging Bull” is now regarded one of the greatest films ever made by film critics including the American Film Institute, the British Film institute’s “Sight and Sound” and various newspaper publications. Gene Siskel has put the film as #1 in his top 10 list, Roger Ebert lists it as his #2 in his top 10 and France’s “Cahiers du Cinema” has it listed as their #8 film in their worldwide cinema top 10 film list. Most recently, the American Film Institute has it listed as their #4 “100 Years….100 Movies” list.
The film is so well regarded that in 1990, “Raging Bull” was listed in the National Film Registry during its first year of eligibility.
The film would also be recognized for De Niro’s ability of playing a physically fit and toned boxer but then gaining 60 pounds for portrayal of La Motta after his boxing career. As for Scorsese, he had a major hand in the film’s editing and mixing as the director thought “Raging Bull” would be the final feature film he would be working on (Scorsese was going through personal challenges and wanted to do documentaries).
“Raging Bull” begins with an older Jake LaMotta (played by Robert De Niro) practicing a comedy routine and then the film goes to a flashback in 1941 where Jake suffers his first boxing loss despite pummeling his opponent several times. His brother and manager Joey LaMotta (played by Joe Pesci) convinces Jake that he can possibly get him a potential shot at the middleweight title by working with his mafia connection, Salvy Batts (played by Frank Vincent).
We learn that Jake has a hot temper. He gets jealous very easy but he also likes to hit his women. He also goes into sadomasochistic rage and often asks his brother to beat him up and during boxing practice, he is literally an animal in the ring.
While hanging out in the area where the mafia hang out at, the married Jake starts to focus his eyes on the beautiful Vickie (played by Cathy Moriarty, note: In real life, “Vikki” is the true spelling of the name but in the film, it was “Vickie”). Needless to say, the “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta has success in the boxing ring and eventually divorces his new wife and ends up getting the woman he has been after, Vickie.
The movie then shows us how Jake continues to meet success and ends up pummeling every man that he fights with. So much, that many are scared to fight him. Except Sugar Ray Robinson, who Jake beat once in 1943 but lost to him in a rematch (despite Jake beating him up severely) because Robinson was joining the Army the following week.
Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes in his personal life, he gets married to Vickie, his brother Joey gets married as well and they start to have their own families while Jake continues to fight. But as his appetite to win in the ring grows, his jealous starts to grow when he feels that Vickie is not interested in him and has eyes on other men. He is even more distracted when he sees her at a nightclub/bar as she gets close to mafia big man, Salvy and his men.
But for Jake’s brother Joey, Joey tries to keep his brother’s focus on the ring but his distraction due to his jealous about Vicky is getting to him. So, one day when Joey finds Vicky with Salvy, Joey goes ballistic and beats the crap out of Salvy. Mob boss Tommy Como (played by Nicholas Colasanto) eventually makes things cool between Joey and Salvy but doesn’t like how Jake keeps winning his matches. So, Tommy tells Joey that if Jake wants a chance at a championship title, he has control over it. All Jake has to do is take a dive in his match against Billy Fox.
Because Jake wants that title so badly, he doesn’t even fight (nor does he make it look convincing). Jake ends up throwing the fight and ends up being suspended by the boxing board on suspicion of throwing a fight and Jake realizes that by doing that, he has disgraced himself (because he knew he could have won the match) but it was too late. The damage was done to his reputation. But as promised, he took a dive and now the mafia has presented him a title match to take on Marcel Cerdan in 1949 and Jake “The Raging Bull” pummels him and wins the middleweight championship.
But things are spiraling out of control for Jake’s wife. His jealous over Vickie grows and now he suspects his own brother Joey of being a man who had slept with Vickie and Jake becomes abusive towards Vickie as well as his rage grows.
That jealousy would eventually set the stage for Jake and eventually lead him to a path in which he could lose everything and everyone dear to him.
“Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented primarily in black and white (with only color focused on the montage wedding video clips of Jake and Joey and La Mott). But the picture quality is fantastic!
You can see details of the character, the sweaty hair, the beaten up face, the blood on DeNiro’s legs, the film looks great!
The black and white footage and the contrast levels are perfect. The blacks are nice and deep, the white and grays look absolutely wonderful! A fine layer of grain can be seen and no DNR or artifacting at all. This is a wonderful presentation of this film and “Raging Bull” looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray!
It’s important to note that I am aware that “Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is the same transfer as the previous 2009 Blu-ray edition of “Raging Bull” and some are able to see a translucent stripe on the right side of the screen (which reviewers mentioned in their 2009 Blu-ray review). I didn’t see it but this seems to be a 50/50 case depending on one’s hardware it appears or because it shows very few times, people miss it. I didn’t catch it at all.
But really, I don’t think anyone should complain because the PQ is wonderful!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Surround Sound. Dialogue coming from the front and center channel is excellent but it’s those fight sequences where Scorsese really wanted people to feel and hear the ferocity, the brutality of boxers. From the leather gloves landing on flesh, the fluidity of the punches and hearing classic to modern announcers talking about the fight, hearing the the flash bulbs from the photographers, everything is captured remarkably well and making you feel the action with the use of audio.
And this extends to crowd cheering ambiance as they scream for LaMotta and boo him when he pretty much gives up on a fight. Every cheer and jeer, you hear it through the surround channels but it is important to note that because the film features a lot of dialogue, it’s a film that is more center and front channel driven.
Still, audio is crystal clear!
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:
- Filmmakers Commentary – Director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
- Cast and Crew Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with cast and crew featuring Irwin Winkler, Robbie Robertson, Robert Chartoff, Theresa Saldana, John Turturro, FrankWerner, Michael Chapman,and Cis Norman.
- Storyteller’s Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Marcik Martin, Paul Schrader, Jason Lustig and Jake La Motta.
- Marin and Bobby – (13:35) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro talk about their relationship and how they work very well together.
- Filmmakers Reflection “Raging Bull” – (12:15) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition,Directors Kimberly Peirce (Boy’s Don’t Cry), Richard Kelly (Donny Darko), Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) and Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) talk about why “Raging Bull” is a masterpiece!
- Remembering Jake – (11:04) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, members of the Veteran Boxers Association of New York talk about their memories of meeting Jake LaMotta and their experiences with him.
- Marty on Film – (10:30) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, Martin Scorsese talks about his passion of cinema and the making of films.
- Cathy Moriarty on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson – (6:42) An early interview from 1981 with Cathy Moriarty being interviewed by Johnny Carson about “Raging Bull”.
- Raging Bull: Fight Night – (1:22:32) The making of “Raging Bull” from how the book became a film, the making of the film, the fighting sequences, outside of the ring and after the fight. A magnificent making of featurette!
- The Bronx Bull – (27:54) Jake LaMotta, film critics and editor Thelma Schoonmaker talk about how the film’s fighting sequences being exact as they were to the real fight footage, shooting in black and white and the great improvisation between De niro and Pesci.
- De Niro vs. La Motta – (3:47) A scene showing how Martin Scorsese made certain fight scenes identical to the actual fight. From the punches, to the falls and more.
- La Motta Defends Title – (1:00) An old MovieTone news clip feat. Jake La Motta.
- Original Theatrical Trailer – (2:09) The original theatrical trailer for “Raging Bull”.
“Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with a slipcase cover plus a DVD version of the film. DVD is presented in 1:85:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Surround, Spanish and French Mono. Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Raging Bull” is one of Scorsese’s masterpiece which may have not done well in the box office because no one knew how to interpret the violence featured in the film but after time, critics and cinema publications worldwide recognize how “Raging Bull” was wonderful cinema.
Where people expected another “Rocky”, “Raging Bull” was nothing like that film. Where “Rocky” made viewers sympathetic to a man that one would root for, “Raging Bull” was the opposite. As viewers, we are forced to be sympathetic to a man who is no angel, who had personal issues and really, a guy that had his own personal inner demons. A guy that many people feared and didn’t want to get on his bad side.
Jake LaMotta was not a perfect man. Awesome boxer in the ’40s with an iron chin and a fighting style that really scared those who were in the ring with him but this is not a film just about boxing, this is a film about man’s self-destruction. A man who loses it all by bad decision-making and although the film is loosely based on LaMotta’s real life but in reality, as Vikki LaMotta told Jake who was depressed about seeing what kind of man he was, when he asked her was he that bad, her answer was “he was worse”.
That’s what makes “Raging Bull” so intriguing because for the most part, people never sympathize with a brutal man, an abusive man but through “Raging Bull”, it’s like watching an intriguing trainwreck of how Jake LaMotta lived his life and how this man had everything from a wonderful boxing career, made great money, had a beautiful wife but it was never enough for him. He wanted more money, he was blinded my jealousy and he lived his life day-by-day and eventually got himself in trouble.
And to accurately show this man’s life, it was going to take remarkable dedication.
This was a story that Robert De Niro wanted to be made into a film. He started pitching it to Scorsese back when they were doing “Mean Streets” six years before “Raging Bull” was filmed. He continued to persuade him year after year and even told him that he would do everything necessary to get the physique of a boxer and be toned and then gain 60-pounds to show Jake LaMotta after his prime. That’s amazing dedication but for Scorsese, this was a man who was going through personal challenges. He believed he lost his filmmaking mojo and wanted to quite feature films. He was not feeling good about his life and when “Raging Bull” didn’t become the box office hit like “Rocky”, needless to say, Scorsese wasn’t thinking he would have much of a career afterward. Especially from the unfavorable reviews it received from the Hollywood Reporter and Variety Magazine.
Also, professionals advised Scorsese to not use unknowns but he was dedicated in hiring Cathy Moriarty to play Vickie LaMotta and Joe Pesci to play Joey LaMotta and he kept to that decision because the collaboration between De Niro and Pesci would become wonderful as the two were able to improvise and make it feel real and they continued that with “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. As for Cathy Moriarty, this person was working at a nightclub in the Bronx with no acting experience but she had that style that complimented Jake’s character.
And while the acting was magnificent, it was Scorsese along with editor Thelma Schoonmaker that really made “Raging Bull” literally kick ass!
Scorsese wanted to achieve perfection. He knew very little about boxing but he wanted to emulate it the best that he can but also making sure that every boxing match was different. And while most actors would complain, De Niro was patient. He wanted the role and he has an amazing repertoire with Scorsese and no matter how many takes it took, they got the fighting down with some matches being nearly an exact copy of the actual fight (using classic footage, Scorsese worked up storyboards) and Thelma Schoonmaker is one of the best in the business and knows what Scorsese wants but knowing hot to piece together every punch, capturing the brutality of a boxing match and making the viewer see the pain that LaMotta was inflicting or getting himself.
With “Raging Bull”, this is a film that features wonderful filmmaking, top notch screenplay and magnificent acting that everything comes together perfectly.
And as for this Blu-ray release, yes… a 2009 Blu-ray edition with the same PQ and AQ has been released and is available for quite cheap but why upgrade to “Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition”?
For me, if you are a filmmaker who loves Scorsese’s work or a cinema fan that admires his oeuvre, these four additional special features show us Scorsese, the filmmaker and Scorsese and De Niro, their awesome collaboration. It also is nice to see filmmakers come together and show their appreciation and explaining why “Raging Bull” was a masterpiece for them and then also hearing from past boxers who have worked or were good friends with Jake LaMotta chiming in.
Now does this justify the upgrade? It depends on you. Are special features meaningful for you? If not, then the 2009 Blu-ray will suffice. Otherwise, if you really love this film and love Scorsese’s work and De Niro’s work, then yeah… “Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is worth it! And if you haven’t purchased this film on Blu-ray yet, then this 30th Anniversary Edition is the way to go.
Wonderful PQ, AQ plust three wonderful audio commentaries, a wonderful making of 1.5 hour long featurette and plenty of special features, if you truly enjoy this Scorsese masterpiece, “Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a must-own and a must-buy!
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