Initially intended as a sequel to Raging Bull, before litigation resulted in a title change, The Bronx Bull serves as bookends to the Scorsese picture. Obviously, this movie isn’t the same caliber of filmmaking, but it’s a reasonably entertaining look at one of the cruelest men to ever lace up gloves.
The story opens as a long-in-the-tooth Jake LaMotta sits before the senate on matters of Mafia involvement in professional sports. LaMotta is asked hard questions about a loss to under-dog Billy Fox years before. The former champ explains he was already injured going into the bout, so a loss didn’t bother him, and actually afforded him a title shot down the road. During the hearing Jake reflects back on his troubled youth.
The young man was forced to fight in back-alleys and basements for nickels and dimes. His father, Giuseppe LaMotta (Paul Sorvino), was an abusive and towering figure in Jake’s life. An early scene shows Giuseppe ordering Jake to fight a grown-man in the bowels of a bar-room, so that the elder could pay-off his drinking tab.
As the film plays with it’s linear timeline, jumping back and forth between a 16yr old and 46yr old LaMotta. The abuse received earlier in life has hardened a man that knows nothing other than rage and fury. Particularly, towards his third wife Sally (Natasha Henstridge).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a sequel/prequel to one of the most critically acclaimed films in the history of the medium. However, strong performance from William Forsythe,Joe Mantegna, Ray Wise, and Robert Davi elevate the material into rarified air for the straight-to-DVD genre.
Director: Martin Guigui
Stars: William Forsythe, Joe Mantegna, Ray Wise