Director Martin Scorsese has a filmography filled with movies that are, unflinchingly realistic, sometimes not for the timid, and always an excercise in craftsmanship. These qualities are no more apparent, than in 1980's Raging Bull. As the film celebrates a milestone and beyond...it deserves to be reissued on DVD as a special edition.
The film tells the true story of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, played with incredible intensity by Oscar winner Robert De Niro. As La Motta rises through the ranks to earn his first shot at the middleweight title, he falls in love with Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), a true "gal" from his Bronx neighborhood. Jake's inability to express his feelings pours out in the ring and eventually takes over his life and in his dealings with his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). Irrational, consuming jealousy over Vickie, as well as an insatiable appetite, sends him into a downward spiral that costs him his title, his wife, and his relationship with Joey.
De Niro delivers one of the screen's most unforgettable performances. La Motta's smolder and and anger are played to perfection. De Niro plays it very unsympathetically, yet its graphic depiction is impossible not to see through to the end Pesci and Moriarty are just as intense as go toe toe with De Niro Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Chapman shot the film with a style that makes the boxing scenes overflow with a boundless energy and adds immediacy to the endless arguments that boil over whenever Jake is outside the ring. The use of black and white ends up, only enhancing the movie, was a masterstroke.
The current (and hard to find) DVD has very little bonus material on it. The theatrical trailer and MGM's hallmark, known as the "8 page booklet", with production notes and trivia, is all there is.
At the risk of repeating myself, Raging Bull--a masterpiece of the cinema--deserves the special edition treatment. Meanwhile, the current disc gets **** and a 1/2 stars