I imagine most are shaking their heads reading this title. “Rocky’s not in the same league as Raging Bull!” Well all the better as Rocky is about an underdog—a long shot. In this thread, let’s discuss the merits of each and see which one comes out a head.
Also, are there any other boxing films that would be better contenders for best films that deal with boxing on some level.
“Raging Bull” certainly has good chances to win this category, though there a various little known gems about boxers that still wait to be discovered. The one that intrigues me most is the Slovak film “The Boxer and the Death”, there’s also an Argentine film called “Gatica, el mono”. Tsukamoto’s “Tokyo Fist” is worth checking out, if alone since it’s at least as insane as his other films.
EDIT: And I found a thread that mentions some more films which could be considered: link
Just last night I sat down with my son for his first viewing of “Raging Bull.” (“The Deer Hunter” is next.) He likes Scorsese and DeNiro, but this stunned him. RB is Scorsese’s masterpiece; “Rocky” is Stallone’s (although “Rocky Balboa” comes in a close second). RB finds the sorrow and the pity in the ring—OK, God vs. Lucifer; “Rocky” asserts the individual hero, almost absurd, like Camus’ Sisyphus, rolling that rock(y)—sorry; couldn’t resist—because that’s the job. Winning is incidental. (Stallone underlines this with a big fat permanent marker at the end of “Rocky Balboa,” as he all but runs out of the ring, the announcer’s voice fading in the background.)
Jazzaloha, I’ll never shake my head over this comparison. Both films approach boxing as a metaphor—then assert that it’s the lives of the boxers that are the metaphors for boxing.
There’s so much more. Have DeNiro or Stallone given better performances? Especially Stallone; watch him in the pet store, at the skating rink, his little speech to the wayward girl, his argument with Paulie. As for DeNiro: I’ve been daydreaming for about fifteen years that he and Scorsese would get together and do “King Lear”—but RB is close, the mad king suspicious of the wrong people—and even when he’s right, he responds with blind storms.
In the end, RB may be the better picture—it’s so perfect in every detail without drawing attention to those details—as close to time travel as any period piece has managed. And the sound editing! And the music! And the buttery B&W! And so on. But—full disclosure—I’m from Philadelphia—South Philly, two blocks from the the 7th St. market where Rocky runs, cheered on by familiar faces—and was in college there when “Rocky” was released (while across the continent David Lynch recrafted his years in Philadelphia as “Eraserhead”), and already knew that guy. So it’s a tie in my sentimental heart, but a win for RB if we’re hanging just one of them in the movie-Louvre.
Other boxing films? Anthony Quinn in “Requiem for a Heavyweight” rises in the air like that elephant Orwell shot, “overcome with an enormous senility.” Breaks my heart every time. And Bogart’s last picture, “The Harder They Fall,” tears apart the “sport” in bloody little strips—and then there’s the ghost boxing movie, “On the Waterfront,” Terry making a last-minute comeback. Definitely a contendah.
Heavyweight vs. middleweight? Not a fair fight.
Don’t have time to contribute much to this thread, but Raging Bull is a stone cold classic, and one of my favourite American films of all time. I can’t think of a better film dealing with the subject matter. i.e a brute alienating those around him for his inability to control himself through lack of discipline and insight. Schrader has written several of these characters before—-his take on Bob Crane being one of them—but Raging Bull is his finest work imo, and Scorsese’s too.
Rocky is a great underdog film. i love it, but it’s not in the same league.
Ouch, Parks. Maybe you’re right, but Rocky is like the Evander Holyfield in this “fight:” maybe not a real heavyweight on the outside, but a true heavyweight on the inside. I know that cinematically RB probably has Rocky beat—as PMarasa mentioned—but the story and spirit behind Rocky may be enough to give it a chance. Here’s one thing to consider: is there a better representation of the “Cinderella story?” One could argue that this is the perfect or best representation of that storyline. It’s a storyline that resonates with a lot of people (at least Americans), and I think if it’s the best version of the story that counts for something.
Along similar lines, Rocky is iconic—at least in the U.S.—in a way that RB is not. The character and his story captures values that are really important to Americans (and I suspect people from other countries) and because of this, the film resonates with viewers in a way that RB does not. Now, to be fair, Rocky attempts to please viewers in the way that RB does not. Still, I don’t Rocky is a well-done crowd-pleaser—one that I might say is even profound.
^^They are interesting movies to compare though Jazz. Rocky is about self affirmation, and personal triumph against the odds. Raging Bull, on the other hand, is about self annihilation, and personal failure; a destructive individual who disadvantages himself.
This isn’t even a contest for me. Rocky is a nice movie. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but…
The best films about boxing that I’ve seen are Frederick Wiseman’s Boxing Gym and Fernando Lopes’ Belarmino. But Rocky, as an Oscar winner, has a special place in my heart as “one of the three crappy movies starting Sylvester Stallone that somehow involved great directors and/or won awards.” The other two are Tango and Cash directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and Victory by John Huston.
What compelled the likes of Konchalovsky and Huston to get involved in such craptacular movies and with craptacular talent like Stallone? I can’t be certain, but I’m thinking that it might have something to do with craptacular capitalism.
^^Andrei Konchalovsky was a good director?!!??!?! ;-)
Konchalovsky I have no problem with, Siberiade was pretty great and a few of his other movies ain’t bad either, but Avildsen?
Well, haha, I know what you mean. But his Soviet films are good, especially Siberiade.
^^haven’t seen that one, but i wasn’t keen on Maria’s Lovers and some of the others i’ve seen.
Tango and Cash is entertaining piece of garbage though.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen Raging Bull yet. :(
Siberiade is indeed amazing, perhaps my favorite Russian film that was not directed by Tarkovsky. The dream sequences in Siberiade remind me of Stalker, and Artemiev’s soundtrack is incredibly powerful. I’m not sure if I have yet seen any of Konchalovsky’s failures made in the US (maybe when I was a kid), but in the Soviet Union he definitely was a big shot. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Andrei Rublev.
The Nutcracker in 3D
Hell yeah !
House of Fools was fun.
Andrei Konchalovsky is a great director.
Rocky is, of course, more charming than Raging Bull and a better film involving boxing. Bull is shot much better but the nihilism gets to be a bit much and I find nothing redeemable in Jake or the secondary characters. Requiem for a Heavyweight is a tremendous film but it is more about the fall of a kind man than boxing. A great movie about boxing is the documentary When We Were Kings, fascinating stuff.
Boxing Gym, a recent documentary by Frederick Wiseman is amazing!
I think the merits of Rocky can get lost in the subsequent sequels.
The ending is more realistic and a btter idea that you can win in defeat. He still gets the girl and knocks the champ down. Both were accomplishments that far surpassed anything he could have expected. Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Burth Young, Talia Shire and Joe Spinell were all really good.
Raging Bull is far beyond Rocky in its achievement and a far better character study than Rocky, but Rocky was more of a fable. The sound design alone in Raging Bull could beat most films.
I did like the Fighter’s use of the same cameras that HBO used at the time of the Ward fights, though. It was a nice touch.
“Maybe you’re right, but Rocky is like the Evander Holyfield in this “fight:” maybe not a real heavyweight on the outside, but a true heavyweight on the inside.”
Ha. No . . . I mean, literally, Jake LaMotta was a middleweight, Rocky Balboa is a heavyweight.
LaMotta moved up to heavyweight when he took on the wall in that jail cell, just sayin’……….
I find it difficult to think of Raging Bull as being about boxing in any real way. It’s in the movie, but…
My favorite boxing movie that is not Raging Bull or Rocky would have to be The Set-Up.
I suspect the people who strongly favor RB do so because of the filmmaking. The editing, cinematography, composition, acting and sound are terrific and they all come together to serve the film well. For me, there’s no question that RB has Rocky beat in this regard—just as Apollo Creed was a far superior boxer to Rocky in terms of skill and talent.
But doesn’t content count? If we look at the spirit behind Rocky and the fact that it has moved so many people—to the point that it becomes the underdog story. I think Rock has RB beat—just as Rocky’s heart was superior to Creed’s. What do you guys think?
Edit: Do people think the content of RB is actually better (whatever that means) than the content of Rocky?
I really love The Set-Up, too. (In fact, I think I saw it because of your high rating.)
I still haven’t seen A Requiem for a Heavyweight, but I want to. For some reason I was a little disappointed about When We Were Kings.
i perfer rocky
Any more comments about why you prefer Rocky over RB?
Jazzahola, by “content” do you mean the overall plot or the “action”—the episodes, the things that happen? I think their plots come from two different sources: RB is more of a Classical tragedy, evoking pity and fear, the hero’s urge to assert himself—or some larger principle—self-defeating, leading to reversal and catharsis, etc. On the other hand, “Rocky” is a Campbell-ian hero-quest—it’s fun tracing the plot through Campbell’s steps, from the call to the refusal, from the meeting with the goddess to atonement with the father, from rescue from without to the freedom to live. (This is even more fun with “Star Wars.”)
Both films are deeply moving, I think: to feel only scorn for or disgust with Jake is to refuse the opportunity to confront one’s own self in that cell, insisting, “I’m not that bad, I’m not that guy”; and to dismiss “Rocky” as schmaltz is to deny "Rocky"’s assertion of a personal definition of “heroism.” Rocky wants to finish the fight—we want him to win it. The triumph of the movie is that we feel he HAS won the fight; what’s actually happened is that we’ve been seduced into accepting his definition of heroism.
As far as “action”—the films’ episodes/events—is concerned, again I think they work on different levels. Consider the scene in RB that won’t end, no matter how much you want it to, when Jake argues with Joey, accuses his wife, attacks her and his brother; it’s as relentlessly tense and dismaying a sequence as you’ll see this side of “The Shining.” But when Paulie expresses his frustration—and his own loneliness—at Thanksgiving, throwing out the turkey, storming around the little narrow row house, the discomfort we feel is an opportunity for Rocky and Adrian—and eventually Paulie—to move forward, to make a family. RB is a chronicle of demolition, “Rocky” is a series of firmer and firmer assertions.
The more I write, the more this looks like a tie.
I love the scorsese-ness and michal chapman-ocity of RB
but if RB and Rocky were both coming on television I would pick Rocky
perfect narrative designed to pierce the male heart
also Fat City
Rocky was released when Muhammad Ali was world champ, and for me the film embodied the white man’s dream of overthrowing black power, after so many years of floundering “great white hopes” (talking of which, there’s the 1970 film The Great White Hope, based on the early black champ Jack Johnson). It also ticked the right Oscar boxes with the clichéd heartwarming tale of the brave battle against the odds and living the American dream- with enough determination the dream is open to all-, yet in reality most of the underclass who manage to avoid prison and death row are still not likely to “make it”. Admittedly I haven’t seen the film for a long time, found it hideous.
Raging Bull is in a different class all round.
It’s time there was a film about little Jimmy Wilde, the mighty atom.
The only things the two films have in common are boxing and Italians.
Rocky is a fun crowd-pleaser film about a man given his first real chance to prove himself.
Raging Bull is a biographical film that tries to portray a real boxer as driven by an insecure need to prove he’s better than everyone else, and who loses his self-confidence when he’s forced to throw a fight, which (The film argues) leads him into a state of impotent rage and self-sabotaging impulsivity.
If I had to watch one right now, it’d probably be Raging Bull, because Rocky is one of the films I watched over and over when I was a kid.