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Raging Bull (1980)

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 129 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


In the world of boxing there have been many amazing characters who deserve their own film but 1950s battler Jake La Motta is certainly an expert pick from Martin Scorsese. This is undoubtedly one of the classic biopics about a flawed sporting genius.

Jake La Motta (De Niro) was a hard-working boxer supported by his little brother Joey (Pesci) who used his uncanny ability to take a punch to make it to the upper echelons of the boxing world. However, he also had a bit of issue with rage and a self-destructive tendency which repeatedly put a spanner in his home life – he left his wife for a 15 year old – and his career as he took a dive in the ring.

Scorsese made all the right decisions here – the gritty black and white, the simultaneously rousing and downcast classical score and a lead actor who proved himself every bit the fighter and the broken man. De Niro was at his best when under the guidance of the long-time collaborating Director and Raging Bull is probably their best work together – just pipping Ordinary People – as De Niro physically and mentally got inside Jake La Motta and with the others hits an amazing level of realism (thanks also to the inclusion of the real life Jake La Motta on the writing team). A far cry from the poor collection of family fodder he’s building up at the moment.

This is more than just a sports film as we get a perfect balance of brutally realistic boxing scenes mixed with a chaotic personal life and then his post-career  decent into depression and imprisonment. Ali tried to do something similar but this is executed so much better – a masterpiece.

It's Got: A almost perfect mix of cinematography, score and story

It Needs: Nothing

DVD Extras 3 Commentaries, newsreel footage of JLM, shot by shot comparisons of one of JLM's real fights to the film's, reflections from other major Directors on the movie, a doc about De Niro and Scorsese's careers together and also a Scorsese centre one - a fine package for the 30th anniversary


Scorsese and De Niro at their best together in this rousing and depressing boxing biopic. A masterpiece.