Raging Bull Blu-ray: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Overall, when one considers that this film was viewed as a pariah during the go-go 1980s, it is excellent to see that opinions have swung wildly the other way.
  • OVERALL
    5.0
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
What was once considered a beached whale on the shores of the 1980s is now thought to be the best film from that decade.
THE BAD
Odd cover image choice.
THE FEATURE
On the face of things, Raging Bull tells the story of middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta. We see him battle various boxers in the ring, win a lot, not go down when the mob wants him to go down, and engage all time great Sugar Ray Robinson in a fight unlike any that has ever been captured on film before or since. That is the action aspect of the story and it gets the most verbiage when people talk about this film. The big line from that fight is, "You never got me down, Ray!" This series of words is spoken after La Motta has take an unholy pounding from Robinson.

As one goes deeper into this story what they find is that it really is a tale of two brothers... Jake and Joey (played by Joe Pesci) La Motta. Apparently, Joey had been a boxer at one time but he wasn't very good. He realized he could make money, and meet a lot of girls, if he managed his up and coming brother. In a nutshell, Jake has the brawn and Joey the brains. The exchanges between these two are priceless, and this movie is filled with many of them. Half the fun is seeing Joey distinctly tell Jake to do something, and Jake, being Jake, completely not doing it the way he's been told. Adding to all of this is Jake's wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty). This beautiful woman, who is obviously two young to be with a man like Jake, is a constant problem. Men are drawn to her and this does nothing but bring out the worst in Jake's animalistic nature.

Most great movies have a legendary scene. Raging Bull is filled with legendary scenes. From the above mentioned moment with Sugar Ray Robinson, to the jail cell scene where Jake has a meltdown, to the scenes where Robert DeNiro puts on so much weight as to be unrecognizable, to the scene where he accuses his brother of sleeping with his wife... Raging Bull is both a classic film and a classic piece of sports cinema.

This Blu-ray release is the way to go for both old and new fans. It is packed with extras (mostly from old releases) and it looks incredible in the next generation format.
THE EXTRAS
As this title was released on DVD and Blu-ray already, I am only covering the new content as it applies to this Blu-ray disc.

4 New Featurettes

The four new featurettes that come with this release are:

- Marty & Bobby

- Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic

- Remembering Jake

- Marty on Film

I must be honest, as much as I love boxing I am a much bigger fan of Martin Scorsese. So I immediately gravitated to the Marty & Bobby and Marty on Film featurettes. I loved getting to hear Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese's views on this movie and their early careers. While most film buffs already know most of this stuff, it is always cool getting to hear good stories told again.

Making this film was rough ordeal in that Scorsese was going through a lot of personal issues. For him, this movie might have been his last. He threw everything he had into it. While Francis Ford Coppola was finding himself up against the establishment after Apocalypse Now, Lucas and Spielberg were making megamillions off of their genre films, Scorsese was the lone artist standing with Raging Bull. While it is obvious that completing this project was a very labored exercise, if this would have been Scorsese's swan song it would have been quite a respectable way to go.
THE VIDEO
1080p/AVC - Widescreen 1.85:1 - This movie looked extraordinary on Blu-ray. Black and white seems to be the toughest way to make a film. There are people that won't go see black and white movies, studios appear to devalue them, but I wish that these people could see how great this film looks on Blu-ray. There is, at times, a good amount of contrast between the black and white images on screen. However, a lot of this movie is told in grays and that looks equally as good. Blu-ray has really allowed Raging Bull to breathe. While I know that this movie has come out before in this format, one might want to buy this 30th Anniversary Edition simply to have this transfer of the film.
THE AUDIO
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio - English Dolby Surround, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround, French 5.1 DTS - Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. This movie sounds really good as well. This is one of the few movies where no sound is ever wasted or put there simply to get us from one scene to the next. Raging Bull is an art film in every sense of the word. The audios takes us into all the main characters heads. It serves to create mood and atmosphere which makes our viewing experience all the more richer. While I didn't watch this in a surround sound environment, I was sucked into what this movie was doing because the audio has been so meticulously put together.
THE PACKAGE
A odd shot of Robert DeNiro, as Jake, graces this embossed cover. While I am glad that this packaging as gone black and white the whole way (and note tried to mix in color shots to trick consumers), in this image one can completely tell that DeNiro has a fake nose. This just looks odd. Maybe a more arty, silhouetted image (like the opening ones from this film), could've been a better way to go. The back has Jake standing over one of his fallen opponents, a short description of this film, a special features listing, and technical specs.
THE FINAL WORD
Raging Bull is a classic boxing film that gets pretty much the ultimate treatment on this Blu-ray release. It's transfer has seemingly been done to the highest quality possible, and the extras give users many hours to go deeper with this film if they choose.

Overall, when one considers that this film was viewed as a pariah during the go-go 1980s, it is excellent to see that opinions have swung wildly the other way (they did this awhile ago, I must admit) and this movie is really seen as the masterpiece it always was.

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Comments (3)

  1. Dan

    @mushy Keep going! You should hit 2000 this year.

    3 years agoby @dan1Flag

  2. Corey W.

    Great review @mushy. Glad to see another review from you dude. :)

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  3. Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

    Look who's back!!!! Almost at 2000!

    -'11

    4 years agoby @mushyFlag