RAGING BULL: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The story of boxer Jake La Motta, known as the Raging Bull, is told in a raw, visceral fashion by Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro stars as La Motta, who had the energy and charisma in the ring but found his life in shambles. Constantly in violent spats with his brother and later his wife, La Motta sees plenty of success as a boxer but deals with the punches that life also throws at him.
WHAT I LIKED
As a fan of Martin Scorsese’s work, I hadn’t seen “Raging Bull,” and it is awesome that I have been able to rectify that. Short of seeing “Raging Bull” projected on the big screen, watching this film on Blu-ray was a fantastic way to first experience. Not a traditional film, “Raging Bull” presents the story of La Motta without judgement or sympathy. Instead, we are given a portrait of a terribly flawed individual who saw success in a very limited piece of his life.
There are few films that I wish I could have seen in its original release because of the impact it had on its era. “Alien” is one of those movies, which caused such a splash because of the introduction of the alien and how innovative it was. Similarly, “Raging Bull” was such a powerful film in 1980 because of its visceral brutality in the boxing sequences. In the age of torture porn and unrated DVDs, we’ve become desensitized to the violence. But even by today’s standards, “Raging Bull” is a hard-hitting look at boxing, if you’ll pardon the pun. Even today, it does the best job putting the viewer in the ring with the punches flying.
While it doesn’t follow a traditional story, it’s endlessly compelling to watch. La Motta has such potential, but he’s so simple minded and reactionary that I could only sit back in awe at how much of a problem he was in his own life. It’s a raw look at a professional boxer, fantastically and artistically directed by Scorsese.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only complaints I have about this Blu-ray is with some minor transfer issues. The image looks good, retaining the grain and contrast of the black-and-white print. Sometimes we lose darker images against the background, but it’s not too noticeable. The only real big problem is the sound mix, which tends to be too soft during dialogue and too loud during the boxing sequences. Still, this should not deter anyone from watching the film.
The newly released Blu-ray has plenty of bonus features, totaling many hours of content. First, there are three commentary tracks, featuring Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, the cast and crew as well as the writers.
Previous features include Cathy Moriarty as the guest on “The Tonight Show” on March 27, 1981, a behind-the-scenes featurette called “The Bronx Bull,” a shot-by-shot comparison of De Niro and La Motta and vintage newsreel footage of La Motta defending his title. Also from older releases is the feature-length documentary “Raging Bull: Fight Night” about the development of the film.
Finally, there are four new featurettes reflecting on the impact the movie has had on American cinema, how it came to be and the initial reactions it got from audiences and critics. These include “Marty & Bobby,” “Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic,” “Remembering Jake” and “Marty on Film.”
The Blu-ray also comes bundled with the DVD of the film.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.