Raging Bull (1980) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Robert De Niro is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood. His career has spanned decades, and he has received multiple Academy Award nominations as he amassed a stellar body of work. Even though he has been doing a lot of raunchy comedies recently, he was at the top of his game in 1980 when he played Jake La Motta, a role that earned him his second Academy Award. Raging Bull is a very gritty black-and-white film that is full of suspense as audiences learn about the life of one of the greatest boxers of all time.

A Toast

This is perhaps De Niro’s best performance (and maybe even one of his best films as well)! De Niro accurately portrays the struggles of his main character by displaying the strength of Jake La Motta while also showcasing his vulnerability. This film is basically the life and hard times of Jake La Motta, and is essentially a cinematic bildungsroman (which, in the literary world, is a genre that presents the growth and development of the main protagonist). Joe Pesci also does well in his supporting role as Joey, and Cathy Moriarty excels as Vickie La Motta. Martin Scorsese also masterfully directs all three performers so that they would all received nominations at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. This film is a great example of teamwork and collaboration!


This film might not have the style and grace of a glamorous Hollywood production, but it is still a work of art in its own right. That is because Raging Bull captures the trials and tribulations of an unlikely hero as audiences empathize with La Motta’s struggles, and root for him as he boxes his opponents in the boxing ring. This is essentially a film that celebrates the underdog.

Raging Bull (1980) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every boxing match

Take a Drink: whenever the camera captures intense moments

Drink a Shot: every time Jake La Motta repeats the phrase, “I’m da boss”

Have some more Shots: whenever there are scenes in restaurants and bars featuring smokers and drinkers (but don’t do this literally)

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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