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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 7.01%
Average: 8.28%
Pretty Bad: 0.64%
Total Crap: 1.27%

4 reviews, 133 user ratings

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Raging Bull
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by Dennis Swennumson

"Pacino and DeNiro combine for 95% of the most quoted movie lines."
5 stars

There’s a catch-22 about historical films, compromise the facts for entertainment value or risk boring the audience with textbook appeal. This goes hand in hand with the biopic, with these films are either treated with sagas of infallible heroes or dull filmed laundry lists of accomplishments. Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” avoids both of these potential flaws, it provides a portrait of a character we simultaneously root for and despise in boxing middleweight champ Jake LaMotta. When “Raging Bull” was released 24 years ago it was a portrayal of one of sports’ most tragic heroes, since then Robert DeNiro’s LaMotta has become an icon in film and one of cinema’s most tragic characters. “Raging Bull” is a film with infinite influence, a landmark of a movie that set a specific standard that few films since have achieved.

For me one of the criteria in separating a good film from a great one lies within the impact certain scenes carry, images that are burned into the memory the instant they are witnessed. These are the kinds of images that one can replay in their mind just as if it’s like watching the movie. In “Raging Bull” this scene comes after a bout between Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta, a legendary rivalry that lasted through the 40’s and 50’s. After the match is over, LaMotta enters Robinson’s corner, bleeding and swollen and reminds the new champion, “You didn’t get me down Ray.” These words define a fight and an entire life, LaMotta was an individual that took out his insecurities and frustrations on others in unforgivable ways, but throughout the film we see how his flaws are understandable. LaMotta more than lived up to his nickname throughout his life, he endured mostly bad elements that never got him down.

Indiana Jones has the hat and whip, Marty McFly has his DeLorean, Scarface has his “little friend” and LaMotta simply has his gloves and a pummeled face, Robert DeNiro’s part in “Raging Bull” goes beyond what a great performance, his role has since become an icon of the last 30 years of American film. Sociologically, DeNiro’s depiction of LaMotta represents some of the best of what every male is taught he should have; uncompromising masculinity, a strict work ethic and the toughness to endure the most testing punishment. LaMotta also represents the worst of what we’re instilled with; seeing our better halves as “possessions”, hard-headed jealously and stubbornness, unchecked temper and bottling up our most intense emotions. One of the hardest scenes to watch comes late in the film when LaMotta finds himself in a Miami jail cell. He punches the walls and pounds his head against the concrete, crying out “Why? Why Why?” It’s not the content that makes us wince, it’s the emotion. There are many ways to pinpoint why Robert DeNiro is one of our most talented actors; this performance is one of them.

“Raging Bull” came second only to “Hoosiers” on a recent list of ESPN’s top sports movies of the last 25 years, and rightfully so. “Hoosiers” is a great sports movie and deserved the top spot; to give “Raging Bull” that honor would pigeonhole the movie. It’s like saying “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a great Christmas film, its quality easily goes beyond that label. The same is true for “Raging Bull” and sports movies, though the film does lend a lot to the way we watch sports films now. Scrosese’s methods when it came to the fight scenes in “Raging Bull” were innovative to the genre and revolutionary to his own personal style, the punches land hard, the camera never leaves the ring, the fighters finish drenched and blood and sweat. We truly understand why Jake LaMotta never used a confessional to exorcise his faults; he used the punishment endured in the boxing ring.

It all adds up, there is so much to be found in “Raging Bull” when it comes to why we love the movies.

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originally posted: 07/23/04 06:42:53
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User Comments

4/24/16 Ken Go see this film, if you haven't seen this. It's very excellent! 5 stars
5/18/15 stanley welles a solid, vigorous ringside drama featuring brilliant boxing sequences 5 stars
3/06/14 Justin R. A brutally raw masterpiece. Plus, I love "Rocky", as well. 5 stars
3/20/13 Daniel M. Any film fan who thinks this film is bad is a moron 5 stars
7/18/11 art RAGING BULL BURRIES rocky six ways to Sunday!!!! 5 stars
10/05/10 Dennis One of my top 5 or 10 films. De Niro and Scorsese rock! 5 stars
9/12/10 art THe BEST film OF 1980 as far as i'm concerned!,Forget rocky! 5 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King Raging Bull is a unique and intense film that packs an emotional wallop. 5 stars
3/25/10 Jeff I love both of those film, but if I had to pick one I love more, it's "Raging Bull". 5 stars
10/30/09 Omar Raging excellence. 5 stars
5/20/09 art RAGING BULL BURIES ROCKY! 5 stars
3/23/08 Philip Along with "Goodfellas", De Niro and Scorsese's best film. 5 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic Outstanding drama. Scorsese's masterpiece 5 stars
12/14/07 davidbobo20 DeNiro at his best. 5 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold raging uniqueness 5 stars
9/24/07 MP Bartley A beautifully shot close up of a cockroach is still a film about a cockroach. Meh. 3 stars
8/02/07 Quigley Amazing portrayal of a person you'd never want to know. Scorsese and De Niro are geniuses. 5 stars
2/01/07 Eric P. This and "Goodfellas" are the best movies ever created. 5 stars
1/31/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
12/28/06 Agent Sands De Niro is authentically disturbing, entirely becoming his role, transcending the universe. 5 stars
12/22/06 Eric Phelps My #1 favorite movie of all-time. 5 stars
9/29/06 Josh Racine The best movie ever made. I'm so happy Robert De Niro deserved the Oscar for this. 5 stars
8/01/06 David Cohen Uncompromising drama, DeNiro and Pesci give the performances of their careers 5 stars
4/30/06 Joshua The best fuckin' movie ever. Whoever hates this, sucks dick. 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE incredible acting but the movie isn't that great 4 stars
3/31/06 kerry WOrst film ever.De Niro is a wife abuser and Scorcese is overrated 1 stars
11/18/05 John Dog Too excellent for words. 5 stars
10/21/05 Ben Awesome. 5 stars
10/16/05 Moctezuma Don't miss a single minute of this masterpiece 5 stars
10/07/05 Johnny Whoever says this movie is crap is a fag. 5 stars
9/23/05 orson wells my god you people are insane did we watch the same film. this was crapie o's 1 stars
9/22/05 Lance De Niro's amd Scorsese's best movie. 5 stars
6/22/05 Regis My favorite movie! 5 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands One of the greatest movies ever made. Period. 100% perfect. 5 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold Boy, I must be way off base. I found it mostly gratuitous and forgettable. 3 stars
5/24/05 Carolyn Rathburn Wonderfully done 5 stars
5/22/05 Cham DeNiro's best performance. 5 stars
5/06/05 Regis De Niro's best. 5 stars
3/12/05 Mr. Slave The #1 best movie of the 1980s. If you film fans have not this, GO SEE IT! NOW! 5 stars
3/09/05 Jake Slave Best Movie of the 1980s. 5 stars
2/23/05 Colleen Goldrick a must see 5 stars
2/18/05 susee it was ragging for sure 5 stars
12/27/04 mjoc De Niro's greatest work. Best film of the 80s for sure. 5 stars
12/07/04 Kurt Cobain Definitely the best film made from the 80's, and there hasnt been a modern movie better yet 5 stars
12/06/04 Jimmy Kustes It's okay 3 stars
11/25/04 Tony The #1 best movie of the 1980s, without a doubt. 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER certainly one of the three best performances of all time-simply unbelievable 5 stars
10/13/04 jake great movie- one of the best ever 5 stars
9/26/04 Mel Gibson's Boyfriend DeNiro would have beaten Jesus Christ for the Oscar that year 5 stars
9/09/04 andrewm nop notch 5 stars
8/14/04 magaafi turned the crappsd boxer's story in2 a fantastic if not best eva movie!!! watch it!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/03/04 Evan The best film for the 80s 5 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale Watch the fight sequences without wincing - impossible!! Sorcese and de Niro are geniuses 5 stars
5/15/04 Read it, Seen it, Done it Easily one of the best movies of the 80's! 5 stars
5/14/04 John what a blend of sensational acting, writing, editing and directing - yeah Scorsese's best! 5 stars
5/07/04 Daveman Better than Taxi Driver. Stands as Scorcese's greatest achievement of them all!!! 5 stars
4/26/04 The man with the plan Greatest Boxing film 5 stars
3/13/04 James Kustes Worth a look, one of those B&W films during the color era 5 stars
3/02/04 Moses "You talkin' to me?" Roth Wah.... 5 stars
2/08/04 Travis I am not an animal 5 stars
1/31/04 Jay Did you fuck my wife? 5 stars
1/24/04 CC No words.... 5 stars
1/23/04 Betty White De Niro gives a loud performance in this overlong Scorsese piece. 3 stars
10/30/03 Nasty_Gnorc Boring? that's nonsense!! 5 stars
9/29/03 Ida Thunk Who cares about these people? I didn't. Ultimately boring. 2 stars
9/23/03 john_cord The best movie. Evaire. 5 stars
8/03/03 Putski One of DeNiro's Best 4 stars
7/18/03 EZE one of deniros absolute best performances, GWB ur a fuckin idiot 5 stars
6/22/03 daniel iriarte One of the best films ever made, DeNiro is jake LaMotta, a gritty triumph... 5 stars
5/23/03 Ryan F. Mr. Scorses's best. A stunning biography. 5 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Scorsese makes his craft look so easy, and De Niro gives THE performance of ANY lifetime!! 5 stars
5/15/03 joshx42 The best film of the 1980's. 5 stars
5/08/03 Doctor Jay One of the best movies of the 1980s!!! 5 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik One of the top movies of the 80s. 5 stars
3/30/03 defranco71 A masterpiece, but it should have been the Best Picture Winner of 1980. 5 stars
3/22/03 GMan Like LaMotta, you can't keep this movie down. The same for pre-Cape Fear DeNiro. 5 stars
3/01/03 Hi there Anyone who thinks this movie is terrible, eat shit. A masterpiece. 5 stars
1/28/03 The Aussie Film Reviewer Explosive. DeNiro will never be better. 5 stars
1/04/03 rotten s. milk Robert De Niro's greatest role. If you think this movie's bad, you're a retard. 5 stars
1/01/03 Andy Todes first time i realized the power of brilliant editing 5 stars
12/28/02 Ally Gator Overdirected macho posturing about macho posturing. 3 stars
12/03/02 marchela great! 5 stars
12/02/02 Mike De Niro in his prime 5 stars
11/22/02 Wretch i love this movie 5 stars
11/22/02 dead good 5 stars
11/22/02 Dufus best film ever? 5 stars
8/14/02 conman Scorsese's best directing work. Great acting. 5 stars
8/13/02 Cannibus (Hey, Justin, Moriarty didn't win an Oscar.) The best film of the 1980s. Scorsese's best! A stunning, brilliant masterpiece. 5 stars
6/19/02 Monster W. Kung Nothing special, really. Good acting, but too much show-off and sorta boring. 3 stars
6/18/02 Mr Math Phenomenal. Pity to see DeNiro wasting his talent in crap nowadays. 5 stars
4/06/02 Justin Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Cathy Moriarty finally won an Oscar! 5 stars
3/14/02 Shams Huque DeNiro and Pesci are awesome. 5 stars
1/10/02 R.W. Welch De Niro's standout performance makes something special out of a not very special story. 4 stars
12/02/01 travis r. sorensen i can't believe this lost to ordinary people. scorsese was robbed of an oscar. 5 stars
10/20/01 Phoenix One of the best movies of the 80s. 5 stars
10/08/01 daniboy very impressive movie. awesome score 5 stars
9/16/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci should win ten Oscars and ten Golden Globes for this. 5 stars
9/09/01 Stranded on the Island Without a doubt, very good film. However I feel that it is overrated. 4 stars
9/08/01 spaceworm Great film, but just one question: Why? WHY? WHY?? WHY? WHY? 5 stars
8/20/01 Clarance Start to finish, an amazing film! 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Hands-down the best Scorsese film. DeNiro's perfect, Pesci's perfect, the movie's perfect! 5 stars
8/05/01 Edwin Menguin Better than penguin sex 5 stars
7/10/01 Ted Halm the conflict between Pesci and DeNiro carries it thru to greatness 5 stars
7/08/01 Reini Urban Very intensive 5 stars
7/06/01 Craig Blanchard Why can't movies like this be made anymore??!! 5 stars
7/05/01 scott weber DeNiro in the jail cell is one of the best acted scenes in any movie ever! 5 stars
7/03/01 Harper Sloane Always a contender. A mighty film. 5 stars
7/02/01 Clarance GO SEE THIS INCREDIBLE MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/11/01 SlipNSlide Don't shoot! Don't shoot! I like, I like. 5 stars
5/25/01 Padraic Coffey Anyone who doesn't think this is a masterpiece should be shot. 5 stars
3/09/01 Chris This is a classic film with a gripping and moving portray of boxer Jake LaMotta's life 5 stars
1/15/01 Action freak Scorsese is a god 5 stars
1/12/01 Skip Intense and ugly, but beautiful. 5 stars
1/01/01 Msitrab One of the best movies ever 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla Another great, self-redemption movie, de niro rocks in this one, a classic!!! 5 stars
11/23/00 A.K. Just the greatest movie of all time. Flawless acting and direction 5 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head The best movie of the 80s. Scorsese's best! 5 stars
9/22/00 White Rabbit Come on Zall, this film is a masterpiece 5 stars
8/05/00 Elvisfan this lost Best Pic to Ordinary Fucking People? 5 stars
6/17/00 JC This film defines greatness in cinema 5 stars
6/03/00 PJ Greatest film of the 1980's, the greatest performance & direction in the history of acting 5 stars
5/05/00 matt DeNiro DEFINETLY deserved an oscar for his performance in this class true-life story. 5 stars
4/08/00 Bruce Just an amazing acheivement, Scrorsese should have won an oscar 5 stars
3/31/00 movieman The Robert Deniro gives one of the screens besrt acting performances 5 stars
2/19/00 tony s DeNiro gives a haunting performance. 5 stars
1/24/00 Casey Jarzabek THE BEST OF THE BEST 5 stars
1/21/00 vanga shows a young de niro at his best 4 stars
11/26/99 Matt Henderson The greatest film, period. About film, violence, humanity. Incredible. 5 stars
10/30/99 Bozo DeNiro's best; Moriarty beautiful; the whole thing is like a symphony 5 stars
10/25/99 russ the best boxing movie ever made, brutal yet compelling. See this at once! 5 stars
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  14-Nov-1980 (R)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2005

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