Martin Scorsese's acclaimed biopic of Jake La Motta, the boxing world champion who rose rapidly to fame but swiftly fell from grace. On the road to success, La Motta (Robert De Niro) marries the beautiful young Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), but the pressures of success soon make him paranoid and he ends up alienating both his wife and his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). Shot entirely in black and white, the film features brutal fight scenes and sees an Oscar-winning performance by De Niro, who famously tailored his physical appearance to suit the role, putting on 50 pounds to portray the portly, middle-aged La Motta.
Even considering the many highs that his career has touched since, there’s still a convincing argument that Robert De Niro has never matched his towering performance as Jack La Motta in Raging Bull
. Marking one of his many successful collaborations with director Martin Scorsese (and check out the likes of Taxi Driver
and the woefully underappreciated The King Of Comedy
for more examples), it was a role that rightly rewarded De Niro with an Oscar, and the fact that it’s still being talked about nearly three decades later tells its own story.
Shot in black and white and pulling no punches, proverbial or otherwise, Raging Bull is a genuinely deserving recipient of the word masterpiece. Boasting superb supporting turns from Cathy Moriarty and Joe Pesci, and with some editing of simply textbook quality, it’s a film that’s there’s little point even trying to pick holes in. A superb piece of cinema.
As for the Blu-ray? It’s not bad at all. The picture improvements over the DVD release still leave it some way behind the finest exponents of 1080p transfers, but that’s to be expected given the age of the film. The sound mix is enhanced too, and it’s good to see such a substantial collection of extras on the disc too. And while it’s not a perfect Blu-ray beneficiary, this is nonetheless as good as a genuinely masterful film is ever going to get, and as a result, it’s simply hard to resist. --Jon Foster