BLU-RAY REVIEW: Raging Bull - 30th Anniversary Edition
Scorsese and DeNiro's 1980 tour-de-force arrives (again) in hi-def...
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Truly a tour de force for actor Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorsese, 1980's Raging Bull brilliantly brings to life the story of Jake LaMotta, a middleweight boxer who's life isn't completely sane, tame, or understood. Forcing viewers to feel obtuse with its ability to daringly push us into the realm of the comfortably numb, where we are forced to simply watch as what plays out before us seems both depressingly real and poetically just, Raging Bull, to this day, defines the careers of both the main actor and director. Previously released on blu-ray in February 2009, MGM is hoping fans and film buffs will pick up this new "30th Anniversary Edition," which includes four new featurettes.
One of the best (if not the best) performances of Robert DeNiro's long career, Raging Bull thrusts the viewer, through DeNiro's portrayal of LaMotta, into the tragic, dangerous, and slightly psychotic life of a 1940s boxer. DeNiro harks at the stereotype of the early boxer/brawler whose life inside the ring was truly rivaled by his life outside the ring, taking on the role of LaMotta in an almost uncanny way.
Following in the footsteps of many fighters of the time, LaMotta falls to the pressures of working for the Mafia (represented by mob boss Tony Como, played by Nicholas Colasanto), who controls LaMotta's chance at a title bout. Disillusioned by his own actions, hopes and dreams and disappointed in the way his life has gone, LaMotta, even with the opportunity to take home the championship belt, still succumbs to his base emotions, driving away those closest to him, including his wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and his brother and manager Joey (Joe Pesci). What LaMotta is and becomes seems anything but friendly or good and, while not an easy story to watch or explore, LaMotta's story makes for great film thanks to actor DeNiro and director Scorsese.
Brought to life in 1080p hi-def, the black and white video transfer looks gorgeous, crisp lines throughout. The shadows loom throughout and the bright whites, darker grays and deep blacks enrich the viewing experience all around. As for audio, this new release includes a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which gives fans of the audio experiance plenty to listen to and hear. The fight scenes especially make good use of the rear channels as the crowd, photographers and brutal hits make for quite the audio treat.
As for special features, for those who picked up Raging Bull almost 2 years ago, this is where your version differs from this new version. This new version includes four new featurettes made specifically for this release, including the 13 minute "Marty and Bobby," which interviews both DeNiro and Scorsese discussing the creation of Raging Bull; the 12 minute "Raging Bull - Reflections on a Classic," which showcases four filmmakers (Kimberly Pierce, Richard Kelly, Scott Cooper and Neil LeBute) discussing the impact the film had on their careers; the 11 minute "Remembering Jake," a session with the Veteran Boxers Association of New York meeting to discuss the real Jake LaMotta; and the 10 minute "Marty on Film," a short in which Scorsese discusses his early experiences with film.
Other previously released bonus material featured on the disc includes three audio commentaries with cast and crew, including one creator commentary with Scorsese and film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, one cast and crew commentary with Irwin Winkler, Robbie Robertson, Robert Chartoff, Theresa Saidana, John Turturro, Frank Warner, Michael Chapman, and Cis Corman and a third "storytellers" commentary featuring Mardik Martin, Paul Schrader, Jason Lustig, and Jake LaMotta himself.
Additional special features include 6 minutes of The Tonight Show on March 27, 1981 featuring actress Cathy Moriarty, a near 30 minute featurette entitled "The Bronx Bull" featuring LaMotta, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and several film critics discussing Raging Bull; a 4 minute "DeNiro vs. LaMotta" short in which the pair are compared to one another; a short MovieTone newsreel, and the original theatrical trailer.
Last, but certainly not least, is the impressive four-part 80 minute "Making Of" documentary entitled "Raging Bull - Fight Night." A must watch for all die-hard fans, after watching the film, this documentary will help viewers better understand what they've just experienced as well as what the creators, cast and crew endured in making this masterpiece.
When you ask someone what Raging Bull is about, and they say "it's a boxing movie," they're wrong. It's not *just* a boxing movie; it's something much more visceral, dangerous, scandalous, and intimidating; it's a crawl, walk, run, sprint, stumble and trip through one man's life (and personal hell) as he reaches to take all he can and beats the hell out of the rest.
Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is rated R for violence and language and is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley