In last week's
Christmas edition of the Face-Off we witnessed CHRISTMAS VACATION
bury HOME ALONE
in an overwhelming victory. Johnny Galecki did good work in the movie but Anthony Michael Hall will always be the best ‘Russ’ in my book.
Today is December 26th, 2013 which is Thursday in the United States but Boxing Day in Canada. With the boxing movie GRUDGE MATCH starring Sly Stallone and Bobby De Niro now playing at your local Bijou, it only made sense for us to throw in both actors’ famous boxing movies into the ring. It’s ROCKY versus RAGING BULL today in a fight that even Vegas doesn’t want to touch...
Small-time Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) gets a shot at the heavyweight title when reigning champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gives him the opportunity to fight him for the belt. Rocky’s got a lot on his plate five weeks before the fight as he also has to deal with a new relationship (Talia Shire), a drunken best friend (Burt Young), his low self-esteem issues and a manager (Burgess Meredith) that ignored him for almost a decade.
If that wasn’t enough, he also doesn’t have songs like ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, ‘No Easy Way Out’ and “Burning Heart’ to motivate him in version 1 of ROCKY. The movie packs an emotional punch scene after scene as Rocky deals with his own demons, his newfound love and a chance to ‘go the distance’ with the greatest boxer on the planet. Will this movie motivate you? If it doesn’t then you’re either a lost cause or your name is Anthony Robbins.
This biopic tells the story of 1940s New York middleweight boxer Jake “The Raging Bull” La Motta (Robert De Niro) whose hot temper helped him in the ring but not so much in his personal life. This Martin Scorsese-directed movie is shot almost entirely in black and white and examines La Motta’s relationships with his brother/manager (Joe Pesci), both his wives as well as the local mob that is continuously trying to get their grips into the boxer. It’s a very interesting look inside the life of Jake La Motta but Rocky Balboa’s fake life story is a little more interesting than Jake’s real life one.
The movie starts off with Rocky punching it out with a bum fighter in a crummy ring in a crummy part of town. That action is short and sweet and you better enjoy it because nobody throws punches again until the final 10-15 minutes of the movie. But those final minutes are well worth the wait as we see the underdog Italian Stallion smack the cockiness right out of Apollo Creed immediately in round 1.
The final boxing sequence is very exciting and not drawn out so much as to bore you. Add Bill Conti’s instrumentals ‘Going The Distance” and ‘The Final Bell’ and you’ve got an incredible ten minutes of powerful boxing action that’ll have cheering “Rocky, Rocky!” like a damn hyena.
Martin Scorsese’s many boxing sequences in the film are as beautiful to look at as they are powerful. La Motta’s faces numerous opponents during the film and the director shoots the boxing matches with equal amounts of style, intensity and creativity making the fights really stand out. The black and white effect, score and cinematography also make the fights really feel like they're taking place in that era.
ROCKY earned a total $117.2 million domestically which guaranteed us more Rocky movies for the rest of our lives.
RAGING BULL didn’t fare as well at the box office even though, like ROCKY, it garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Picture of the year. It earned a measly $23.3 million domestically.
Oscars, Oscars, Oscars
ROCKY racked up a total of ten Oscar nominations including four acting nominations and winning the all-important Best Picture and Best Director (John G. Avildsen) awards. It also won an Oscar for Best Editing which brought its total of wins up to three.
RAGING BULL managed two less nominations at the Academy Awards (8) and won twice for Best Actor (Robert De Niro) and Best Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker).
1) Rocky: “Ah come on, Adrian, it's true. I was nobody. But that don't matter either, you know? 'Cause I was thinkin', it really don't matter if I lose this fight. It really don't matter if this guy opens my head, either. 'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.”
2) Rocky: “What about my prime, Mick? At least you had a prime! I had no prime, I had nothin'!”
3) Rocky: “Cut me, Mick.”
4) Adrian: “I love you.”
Rocky: “I love you.”
5) Rocky: "I been comin' here for six years, and for six years ya been stickin' it to me, an' I wanna know how come!"
Mickey: "Ya don't wanna know!"
Rocky: "I wanna know how come!"
Mickey: "Ya wanna know?"
Rocky: “I wanna know how!”
Mickey: “OK, I'm gonna tell ya! You had the talent to become a good fighter, but instead of that, you become a legbreaker to some cheap, second rate loanshark!”
Rocky: “It's a living.”
Mickey: “It’s a waste of life!”
1) Jake La Motta: “I heard things.”
2) Jake La Motta: “Did you fuck my wife?”
Joey LaMotta: “What?”
Jake La Motta: “Did you fuck my wife?”
Joey LaMotta: [pauses] “How do you ask me that? I'm your brother and you ask me that? Where do you get your balls big enough to ask me that?”
Jake La Motta: “I'm gonna ask you again, did you or didn't you? Just answer the question.”
3) Jake La Motta: “She says he's pretty.”
Joey LaMotta: “Yeah, well, you make him ugly.”
4) Jake La Motta: “I remember those cheers / They still ring in my ears / After years, they remain in my thoughts. / Go to one night / I took off my robe, and what'd I do? I forgot to wear shorts. / I recall every fall / Every hook, every jab / The worst way a guy can get rid of his flab. / As you know, my life wasn't drab. / Though I'd much... Though I'd rather hear you cheer / When you delve... Though I'd rather hear you cheer / When I delve into Shakespeare / "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse", I haven't had a winner in six months. Though I'm no Olivier / I would much rather... And though I'm no Olivier / If he fought Sugar Ray / He would say / That the thing ain't the ring, it's the play. / So give me a... stage / Where this bull here can rage / And though I could fight / I'd much rather recite /... that's entertainment.”
5) [Sugar Ray Robinson has just battered Jake La Motta half to death, but Jake has stayed on his feet]
Jake La Motta: “You didn't get me down, Ray.”
1) Sometimes when you have a chance to make your dreams come true you have to take that opportunity and in the end, even if it doesn’t materialize, just having “gone the distance” and really tried to achieve your goal is victory enough.
2) If you take a girl’s glasses and goofy looking hat off, she becomes a babe!
1) Temper issues, jealousy, paranoia and rage may be a huge asset in a boxing ring but they’ll tear your life apart if you can’t control them in your personal life.
2) Don’t kick your brother’s ass within an inch of his life unless you are 100% sure he actually fucked your wife.
I dig RAGING BULL a lot but in this race it really doesn’t compare to ROCKY which is not only the best boxing movie ever made but one of the best movies ever made - period. The writing is genuine, funny and filled with passion, almost every scene is a memorable one and it’s got a really heartwarming love story on top of it all.
As good as RAGING BULL is, I can’t even say it was the best movie of 1980 with movies like THE STUNT MAN and ORDINARY PEOPLE higher up on my list. I'm looking forward to seeing which film all of you choose and in the meantime I’m up for some more Bobby and Sly in my holiday diet so I’m going to have a helping of COPLAND and then hit the showers.