Raging Bull (1980)

So I finally saw Raging Bull and I have to disagree with everyone who says it is one of the best films ever made. Sure it looks beautiful, Marty Scorsese does a wonderful job at directing, the acting is pretty good too but I just didn’t like the film. Could it be that the film has basically inspired most of the films that come out today or it’s be referenced to death in popular culture?

Raging Bull tells the story of boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro). The film opens with LaMotta doing a comedy routine in 1964 then it flashes back to 1941 when LaMotta began fighting. We see the first fight he ever loses against Jimmy Reeves and the film proceeds from there. LaMotta’s violent outbursts are not just in the ring but also in real life, he’s got  real trouble controlling his temper and it is a destructive in his first marriage. Jake and his brother are at the neighborhood pool and Jake falls for a 15 year old girl, Vickie, who is there, and eventually he marries her. Jake continues fighting during all of this he faces Sugar Ray Robinson 5 times, three time with two months.

Jake is suspicious still and believes Vickie to be have feeling for other men. All that Jake wants is a chance to fight in the championship fight but this is controlled by the mafia so they say that in order to get into the Championship Jake has to throw a fight. His next match he does so. After this match Jake is suspended from fighting, when he is reinstated Jake finally has his championship match and becomes the World Middleweight Champion. He explodes one day and accuses Vickie of sleeping with everyone, Jake’s rage can not be contained and he goes to his brother’s house and beats him up for sleeping with Vickie. After this Vickie starts packing but then Jake apologies and she stays with him. So we eventually come to another fight with Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake takes a horrible beating but never goes down.

After that fight Jake and his family move to Miami where he opens a nightclub, Vickie drops the bombshell that she is going to divorce Jake and is keeping the kids. As a nightclub owner Jake gets into hot water when he introduced underage girls to men at his nightclub. Jake goes to jail for this. Eventually he make his way back to New York where he runs into his brother, who he apologizes to. Then we return to the opening scene of Jake warming up for his stage show, where he recited things from plays and movies and television. He does the “I coulda been a contender” speech from On the Waterfront, and that is how the film ends.

Jake isn’t a great person he is violent and self-destructive and he really doesn’t change at all in the film, come to think of it there really isn’t anyone to really root for in the entire film. It’s nothing like the Rocky films, I did like how the fights were filmed in the ring and not as an observer on the outside looking in. This film won Robert De Niro an Oscar for Best Actor.


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