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Raging Bull

Review Written by: Chris Burns
Film: A+
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for language and violence)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin
Based on the book by: Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter and Peter Savage
Produced by: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriaty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto
Studio: United Artists

Martin Scorsese's operatic study of an extremely unlikeable character is heart-wrenching and powerful. The film studies the rise and fall of boxing legend Jake La Motta and is not afraid to show the man how he really was. Robert De Niro plays a very unlikeable character and astounded me with his amazing skill at acting, you manage to have sympathy for a very nasty man. It's stunning how a film can be so raw, brutal, depressing and gritty all at once. Raging Bull is a very dark film and is definitely far from light viewing. I've always thought that boxing films are the most interesting sports film and I think the reason for that is because a boxer is always a very interesting person.

You never know what Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) will do next because he's a man on the edge. The film studies the violence surrounding this man and shows how he changes as time goes by. Not many films can grab the real feel of boxing. The use of black and white makes the film seem more gritty and raw. When a punch is thrown it's as if you feel it, the blood, the sweat trickles down the face as the cheek wobbles in slow motion. The lights flash and the shadow of the bruise shows up underneath the eye. That's just a taster of the realism of authenticity of Raging Bull, watch a bomb waiting to explode. That's exactly what this film is: a bomb waiting to explode. The fact that you know the characters and what they are like by the end of the movie is a brilliant example of skill. The acting from the cast is stunning and Robert De Niro proves he's possibly the greatest actor ever. As well as a provocative performance from Joe Pesci. The slow motion shots the flickers of light, the sullen faces are all there to create an image of violent tension. There are many morals to Raging Bull, it shows how you should stick by your friends. How people can come to involved in their obsession, greed and anger. It makes you realise that everybody needs to learn how to control their temper and bad people should seek the redemption. But is that something someone can always find? Rather than being a boxing film though I personally feel the film is more of a study of family and social life.

The dialogue in the film flows with a true feeling of anger, everybody says their lines with such menace. The direction is perfect and the editing is very different to many other films. I can't think of any other directors who could have made Raging Bull. The movie moves at a very good speed and is powerful from the moment it starts. The image of Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) standing there in the ring, jumping up and down in slow motion and the slow haunting music is just plain stunning. One of my favourite things is the use of blood in the film, this is in the boxing scenes. Hershey Bars were used to create the realistic splatters as a punch makes its hard impact. You get the true sense of everything in the film, the smoke floats around the ring which creates this strange kind of "fantasy" effect.

There are 2 kinds of violence in this film, one is domestic and the other is sport. The difference between both are shown in the film and giving you the important message of not to go the way Jake La Motta did. One of the few films that shows how a man changes and creates many questions for the viewer. You really feel everything went into this piece of art. Tragic, but beautiful at the same time making you delve inside the mind of one of the world's most brutal games.

Robert De Niro's Oscar-winning potrayal of Jake La Motta in Raging Bull.
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