Articles & Notes — July 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Raging Bull II: Fighting against studios, viewers and the original film

Not long ago the shooting process of “Raging Bull 2”, a sequel to the 1980 Martin Scorsese directed Oscar-winning sports drama, has been completed. The theatrical release of the picture is planned for sometime next year.

Unlike the original “Raging Bull”, this sequel packs quite an an impressive cast: William Forsythe, Joe Mantegna, Natasha Henstridge, Paul Sorvino, Penelope Ann Miller, Robert Davi, Ray Wise, Tom Sizemore, and James Russo, for guess how much? IMDB says only $7 million.

Despite the fact that a lot of people have no faith in this film, claiming it is “another unnecessary remake of a great movie”, I am the minority here. And there are a few reasons why I’d like to think this film will be good. Not as good as the original of course, but still solid.

One of the major reasons is that – I honestly do not believe that such an impressive cast of known actors would work on a $7 million budget film, especially “Raging Bull 2”, without liking the story.

Since LaMotta in the film is portrayed by two people (newcomer Mojean Aria plays LaMotta in his youth, while William Forsythe stars as the legend in his anguished later years), it is obvious that producers did not want to try to overcome De Niro’s performance in the first film.

Referring to the John Baxter book on Robert De Niro (“De Niro”, 2002) – there were a lot of moments of LaMotta’s life that were not covered in the 1980 film. Two of those moments I would want to see in “Raging Bull 2”.

First – To see Jake’s and Joey’s father included in the story, as he was completely out of it in the first film.

Second – Baxter’s book says LaMotta was thrown in prison for armed robbery, and he learned to fight behind bars. According to the book, due to his ability to handle pain, he went undefeated in over 100 fights.

Third – I really hope “Raging Bull 2” will have a little more fights than the first one had. Despite being a great film, Scorsese’s movie did not have a big amount of boxing scenes. “Raging Bull 2” could be different.

That all of course, if the film ever reaches the theaters, as in May of 2012 MGM filed a complaint against the 91-year old Jake LaMotta and the producers of Raging Bull 2.

According to the complaint, MGM said LaMotta had no right to allow “Raging Bull 2” Productions the rights to his 1986 sequel book without first offering it to them.

That comes from a 1976 agreement the boxer and co-author Peter Savage entered into with Chartoff-Winkler Productions (the first “Raging Bull” film was made in 1980).

LaMotta wrote a memoir in 1970, which was turned into a movie in 1980.

When MGM signed a deal to turn LaMotta’s book into a movie, it also acquired the rights to his yet unwritten sequel. LaMotta wrote the sequel in 1986, as a follow-up to the “Raging Bull”.

MGM claims both RB2 Productions and LaMotta ignored the attempts to comply with the 1976 agreement. MGM also says that the new film is “intended to create confusion in the marketplace and to trade off the value” of the original 1980 film.

“Raging Bull 2” promises viewers a fresh look at Jake LaMotta “before the rage” and “after the rage”.

Since the filming has already been completed, and it looks like the “bout” between MGM, LaMotta and RB2 Productions still has no clear winner, I hope it will not negatively affect the film when it is finally released.

While Scorsese himself, who is not connected to this film, says it has nothing new to say on LaMotta’s life, I believe there is a lot more to say, and to say it differently, under a different angle. A good cast can support this kind of approach.

Jake LaMotta was bigger than just one movie, that much his own book says, let alone the sequel. While De Niro and Scorsese made a masterpiece, it doesn’t mean LaMotta cannot go into a little different direction.



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