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Blu-ray (30th Anniversary): If you haven't owned any previous release, this version is a must-own!,
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This review is from: Raging Bull (30th Aniversary Edition Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)Back in the 1940's, Jake LaMotta was one of the most talented middleweight boxing athlete in America. Electrifying and scary, his tactic of getting close to his opponent and punishing them with blow after blow earned him the nickname "Bronx Bull" or better yet, "The Raging Bull".
But as electrifying and fierce as his style was in the boxing ring, his personal life was full of jealousy, obsession, anger, ignorance and eventually throwing a boxing match in order to get himself closer to the mafia in order to earn a title match.
Although considered one of the best boxers in the last century, there was more to LaMotta's life which was captured in his 1970 memoir "Raging Bull: My Story".
With the success of "Rocky" in 1976, Americans had an interest in boxing movies and what best than to work on a story that dealt with a real champ who had significant personal issues, a full-length movie adaptation of LaMotta's memoir and who best to direct it than Martin Scorsese, who was riding high from the success of his films "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "New York, New York" (1977) and Scorsese and De Niro worked together on the 1973 film "Mean Streets" (which would be the time when De Niro started to persuade Scorsese in considering "Raging Bull"). The film would be the first for actress Cathy Moriarty and the second for upcoming actor at the time, Joe Pesci.
Although at the time of release, because of its violent boxing content and domestic violence, the film had mixed reviews from critics. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two, Robert De Niro for best actor and "Best Film Editing" by Thelma Schoonmaker.
But overtime, "Raging Bull" is now regarded one of the greatest films ever made by film critics including the American Film Institute, the British Film institute's "Sight and Sound" and various newspaper publications. Gene Siskel has put the film as #1 in his top 10 list, Roger Ebert lists it as his #2 in his top 10 and France's "Cahiers du Cinema" has it listed as their #8 film in their worldwide cinema top 10 film list. Most recently, the American Film Institute has it listed as their #4 "100 Years....100 Movies" list.
The film is so well regarded that in 1990, "Raging Bull" was listed in the National Film Registry during its first year of eligibility.
The film would also be recognized for De Niro's ability of playing a physically fit and toned boxer but then gaining 60 pounds for portrayal of La Motta after his boxing career. As for Scorsese, he had a major hand in the film's editing and mixing as the director thought "Raging Bull" would be the final feature film he would be working on (Scorsese was going through personal challenges and wanted to do documentaries).
"Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" is presented primarily in black and white (with only color focused on the montage wedding video clips of Jake and Joey and La Mott). But the picture quality is fantastic!
You can see details of the character, the sweaty hair, the beaten up face, the blood on De Niro's legs, the film looks great!
The black and white footage and the contrast levels are perfect. The blacks are nice and deep, the white and grays look absolutely wonderful! A fine layer of grain can be seen and no DNR or artifacting at all. This is a wonderful presentation of this film and "Raging Bull" looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray!
It's important to note that I am aware that "Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" is the same transfer as the previous 2009 Blu-ray edition of "Raging Bull" and some are able to see a translucent stripe on the right side of the screen (which reviewers mentioned in their 2009 Blu-ray review). I didn't see it but this seems to be a 50/50 case depending on one's hardware it appears or because it shows very few times, people miss it. I didn't catch it at all.
But really, I don't think anyone should complain because the PQ is wonderful!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Surround Sound. Dialogue coming from the front and center channel is excellent but it's those fight sequences where Scorsese really wanted people to feel and hear the ferocity, the brutality of boxers. From the leather gloves landing on flesh, the fluidity of the punches and hearing classic to modern announcers talking about the fight, hearing the the flash bulbs from the photographers, everything is captured remarkably well and making you feel the action with the use of audio.
And this extends to crowd cheering ambiance as they scream for LaMotta and boo him when he pretty much gives up on a fight. Every cheer and jeer, you hear it through the surround channels but it is important to note that because the film features a lot of dialogue, it's a film that is more center and front channel driven.
Still, audio is crystal clear!
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.
"Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" comes with the following special features:
* Filmmakers Commentary - Director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
* Cast and Crew Commentary - Featuring audio commentary with cast and crew featuring Irwin Winkler, Robbie Robertson, Robert Chartoff, Theresa Saldana, John Turturro, FrankWerner, Michael Chapman,and Cis Norman.
* Storyteller's Commentary - Featuring audio commentary by Marcik Martin, Paul Schrader, Jason Lustig and Jake La Motta.
* Marin and Bobby - (13:35) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro talk about their relationship and how they work very well together.
* Filmmakers Reflection "Raging Bull" - (12:15) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition,Directors Kimberly Peirce (Boy's Don't Cry), Richard Kelly (Donny Darko), Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) and Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) talk about why "Raging Bull" is a masterpiece!
* Remembering Jake - (11:04) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, members of the Veteran Boxers Association of New York talk about their memories of meeting Jake LaMotta and their experiences with him.
* Marty on Film - (10:30) A new featurette for this 30th Anniversary Edition, Martin Scorsese talks about his passion of cinema and the making of films.
* Cathy Moriarty on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson - (6:42) An early interview from 1981 with Cathy Moriarty being interviewed by Johnny Carson about "Raging Bull".
* Raging Bull: Fight Night - (1:22:32) The making of "Raging Bull" from how the book became a film, the making of the film, the fighting sequences, outside of the ring and after the fight. A magnificent making of featurette!
* The Bronx Bull - (27:54) Jake LaMotta, film critics and editor Thelma Schoonmaker talk about how the film's fighting sequences being exact as they were to the real fight footage, shooting in black and white and the great improvisation between De niro and Pesci.
* De Niro vs. La Motta - (3:47) A scene showing how Martin Scorsese made certain fight scenes identical to the actual fight. From the punches, to the falls and more.
* La Motta Defends Title - (1:00) An old MovieTone news clip feat. Jake La Motta.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (2:09) The original theatrical trailer for "Raging Bull".
"Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" comes with a slipcase cover plus a DVD version of the film. DVD is presented in 1:85:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Surround, Spanish and French Mono. Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
"Raging Bull" is one of Scorsese's masterpiece which may have not done well in the box office because no one knew how to interpret the violence featured in the film but after time, critics and cinema publications worldwide recognize how "Raging Bull" was wonderful cinema.
Where people expected another "Rocky", "Raging Bull" was nothing like that film. Where "Rocky" made viewers sympathetic to a man that one would root for, "Raging Bull" was the opposite. As viewers, we are forced to be sympathetic to a man who is no angel, who had personal issues and really, a guy that had his own personal inner demons. A guy that many people feared and didn't want to get on his bad side.
Jake LaMotta was not a perfect man. Awesome boxer in the '40s with an iron chin and a fighting style that really scared those who were in the ring with him but this is not a film just about boxing, this is a film about man's self-destruction. A man who loses it all by bad decision-making and although the film is loosely based on LaMotta's real life but in reality, as Vikki LaMotta told Jake who was depressed about seeing what kind of man he was, when he asked her was he that bad, her answer was "he was worse".
That's what makes "Raging Bull" so intriguing because for the most part, people never sympathize with a brutal man, an abusive man but through "Raging Bull", it's like watching an intriguing trainwreck of how Jake LaMotta lived his life and how this man had everything from a wonderful boxing career, made great money, had a beautiful wife but it was never enough for him. He wanted more money, he was blinded my jealousy and he lived his life day-by-day and eventually got himself in trouble.
And to accurately show this man's life, it was going to take remarkable dedication.
This was a story that Robert De Niro wanted to be made into a film. He started pitching it to Scorsese back when they were doing "Mean Streets" six years before "Raging Bull" was filmed. He continued to persuade him year after year and even told him that he would do everything necessary to get the physique of a boxer and be toned and then gain 60-pounds to show Jake LaMotta after his prime. That's amazing dedication but for Scorsese, this was a man who was going through personal challenges. He believed he lost his filmmaking mojo and wanted to quite feature films. He was not feeling good about his life and when "Raging Bull" didn't become the box office hit like "Rocky", needless to say, Scorsese wasn't thinking he would have much of a career afterward. Especially from the unfavorable reviews it received from the Hollywood Reporter and Variety Magazine.
Also, professionals advised Scorsese to not use unknowns but he was dedicated in hiring Cathy Moriarty to play Vickie LaMotta and Joe Pesci to play Joey LaMotta and he kept to that decision because the collaboration between De Niro and Pesci would become wonderful as the two were able to improvise and make it feel real and they continued that with "Goodfellas" and "Casino". As for Cathy Moriarty, this person was working at a nightclub in the Bronx with no acting experience but she had that style that complimented Jake's character.
And while the acting was magnificent, it was Scorsese along with editor Thelma Schoonmaker that really made "Raging Bull" literally kick ass!
Scorsese wanted to achieve perfection. He knew very little about boxing but he wanted to emulate it the best that he can but also making sure that every boxing match was different. And while most actors would complain, De Niro was patient. He wanted the role and he has an amazing repertoire with Scorsese and no matter how many takes it took, they got the fighting down with some matches being nearly an exact copy of the actual fight (using classic footage, Scorsese worked up storyboards) and Thelma Schoonmaker is one of the best in the business and knows what Scorsese wants but knowing hot to piece together every punch, capturing the brutality of a boxing match and making the viewer see the pain that LaMotta was inflicting or getting himself.
With "Raging Bull", this is a film that features wonderful filmmaking, top notch screenplay and magnificent acting that everything comes together perfectly.
And as for this Blu-ray release, yes... a 2009 Blu-ray edition with the same PQ and AQ has been released and is available for quite cheap but why upgrade to "Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition"?
For me, if you are a filmmaker who loves Scorsese's work or a cinema fan that admires his oeuvre, these four additional special features show us Scorsese, the filmmaker and Scorsese and De Niro, their awesome collaboration. It also is nice to see filmmakers come together and show their appreciation and explaining why "Raging Bull" was a masterpiece for them and then also hearing from past boxers who have worked or were good friends with Jake LaMotta chiming in.
Now does this justify the upgrade? It depends on you. Are special features meaningful for you? If not, then the 2009 Blu-ray will suffice. Otherwise, if you really love this film and love Scorsese's work and De Niro's work, then yeah... "Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" is worth it! And if you haven't purchased this film on Blu-ray yet, then this 30th Anniversary Edition is the way to go.
Wonderful PQ, AQ plust three wonderful audio commentaries, a wonderful making of 1.5 hour long featurette and plenty of special features, if you truly enjoy this Scorsese masterpiece, "Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition" is a must-own and a must-buy!