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5 Plot Point Breakdown: Raging Bull (1980)

By Keaton Ziem · September 13, 2011

Screenplay Genre: Biography / Drama / Sport

Movie Time: 129 minutes


Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro), professional middleweight boxer, is late in rounds and down on points against opponent Jimmy Reeves (Floyd Anderson) until the final round when Jake obliterates Reeves, who is saved by the bell from an inevitable K.O. Amazingly however, the decision goes to Reeves, resulting in Jake’s first loss as a pro. It becomes clear that without representation from Tommy Como (Nicholas Colasanto), the local mob boss, Jake will never get a shot at the title. (10:16)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

At the community swimming pool, Jake notices the young and beautiful Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), talking and laughing with some of Tommy Como’s thugs. Jake has Joey (Joe Pesci) introduce them so that Jake can take Vickie out. Despite being married, Jake brings Vickie to his apartment and begins a romance with her. (31:21)


Time goes on and Jake and Vickie are married. Their lives seemingly alternate between Jake’s success in the ring and their happy home life together. However, seeds of jealousy are sewn over time along with frustrations when Jake finally lets Tommy Como help him get a shot at the title. In exchange, Jake agrees to take a dive in his next match. Against his own good conscience, Jake throws the fight and in so doing, sells himself to the mob. (1:11:20)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Eventually, Jake does become the middleweight champion of the world. His time as the champ is short-lived, however, when after alienating himself from his brother, the mob who backed his rise to champion, and distancing himself from his wife, Jake intentionally subjects himself to an unguarded beating from Sugar Ray Robinson (Johnny Barnes), and thus loses the middleweight title. Despite having lost the belt, Jake is proud to remind Sugar Ray that he never knocked Jake down. (1:41:30)


It’s not long before Jake retires from the world of boxing in order to own and operate his own lounge and nightclub, allowing a venue for Jake to perform his own breed of stand-up comedy and fall into drink. That is until Jake mistakenly serves alcohol to two underage girls in his club, which inevitably leads Jake to serving jail time. Alone in his jail cell, Jake is forced to confront himself and the poor choices that brought him there. (1:57:00)

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