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the bronx bull, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

The Bronx Bull (2016) 

It was the sequel that nobody asked for, least of all the producers of Raging Bull who sued the makers of this biopic to stop them touting it as such. Subsequently, when Raging Bull 2 became The Bronx Bull, funding fell away and the film’s shooting schedule was reduced to twenty days. Fortunately, director Martin Guigui is a disciple of the William ‘One-Shot’ Beaudine school of filmmaking and prefers to only shoot two or three takes at most. Unfortunately, it shows.

During his testimony before a Senate sub-committee, Jake LaMotta is asked whether he threw his fight against Billy Fox, prompting the ex-boxer to deliver the unsubtle cue “I’d like to start at the beginning”.  Flashback to 1937 where a young LaMotta is forced by his father to brawl in organized street fights for nickels and dimes. Flash forward to the day of his wedding, where he breaks someone’s jaw for suggesting he might beat wife number three like he beat wife number two. Flashback to his time in a juvenile correctional facility where a kindly priest recognizes his boxing potential. Flash forward to…. Well, you get the idea.

By skirting around the events previously covered by Scorsese, The Bronx Bull is left with the dregs of what was already a pretty wretched life. Nevertheless, the film still manages to trot out a few tired references to the earlier film. Boxing scenes are filmed in black and white and LaMotta goes around accusing people of wanting to ‘tap’ his wife. Yet whereas Raging Bull had one name actor in De Niro and a couple of newcomers (Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty), The Bronx Bull features a fine ensemble cast. Apart from Joe Mantegna, Penelope Ann Miller and Natasha Henstridge providing support to William Forsythe’s take on LaMotta, the film is littered with familiar faces.

Granted, given the brevity of their individual scenes and director Guigui’s shooting schedule, to say nothing of the end results, these actors probably spent less time on set that LaMotta's early opponents spent in the ring. Doubtless most will be relieved that The Bronx Bull is a hard film to find.

William Forsythe, Mojean Aria, Jake LaMotta, James Russo, Rocky Graziano
Sugar Ray Robinson, Josh Tessier, Laurent Dauthuille, Anthony Molinari, Marcel Cerdan

The character of Rick Rosselli is based on LaMotta’s lifelong friend Peter Savage.


Movie suggests Sugar Ray Robinson appeared in Cauliflower Cupids alongside Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano. He didn’t, but fellow boxers Tony Zale and Willie Pep did.

Dom Irrera, Joe E. Lewis, Dahlia Waingort, Jane Russell,  Dre Michael Chaney
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