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True Believer (1989)

James Woods , Robert Downey Jr. , Joseph Ruben  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Woods, Robert Downey Jr., Margaret Colin, Yuji Okumoto, Kurtwood Smith
  • Directors: Joseph Ruben
  • Writers: Wesley Strick
  • Producers: Lawrence Lasker, Patrick Crowley, Peter Rosten, Walter F. Parkes
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056WR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,844 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "True Believer" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A spellbinding murder mystery in which a routine case of murder becomes a deadly odyssey for James Woods, a lawyer torn between justice and the law. Robert Downey, Jr. also stars as an idealistic recent law school graduate who journeys to New York to work as a clerk for his idol, Woods, whose inventive tactics in civil rights cases in 1960s and 70s made him one of the country's most respected attorneys.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A good fight is one y'win!" April 7, 2005
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
James Woods is erstwhile civil liberties attorney Eddie Dodd, his idealism long since forsaken for 4th Amendment violation-under-every-bed cynicism, & Rbt. Downey, Jr., is his summer intern (well, autumn intern) Roger Barron. Woods character based loosely on Frisco criminal def. lawyer J. Tony Serra.

Dodd's conscience-bending guilt submits to Roger's yuppie charm, & the two pursue the mysteries of why a young Korean gang member is serving time for murder & now's offed a member of some supremacist cult in prison. Woods's Dodd is light years beyond over the top with this, but an excellent supporting cast (Downey, Jr., [" we can get off guilty little pricks!"], Margaret Colin, Miguel Hernandez, & "70s Show"'s Kurtwood Smith as a D.A. with a closet full of diced-up skeletons) & brisk dialog make him seem right @home there. To the paranoid, conspiracy-soaked veteran & witness to the original crime: "Cecil, are you what heroes are made of?" Cecil: "I did two tours in 'Nam."

If you can get past the new twist on the climactic courtroom scene & the veritable litany of continuity issues here, "True Believer" is one of the most watchable flicks I've seen---meaning, I can sit thru the whole thing without once hitting the pause button or pondering my full bladder.

The great scene in Eddie's kitchenette (with the de rigueur Chinese food) is especially instructive. When Downey, Jr.'s, Roger spouts armchair activist rhetoric ("We all think it's a good fight."), Woods's Dodd lets loose with a tirade against bleeding-heart do-goodism that would make Bill O'Reilly cringe.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all James Woods junkies! July 31, 2001
As a lawyer who has been both prosecutor and public defender, I have to say this is my favorite movie about lawyers and my favorite James Woods performance. I get goosebumps every time I hear his speech about ..."the only good fight is one you win!", said with the passion and spite that only James Woods has perfected. His comment on plea bargaining, that "..this isn't ... Yale, he [the client] doesn't care if we go down but go down nobly. He's looking at 40 years of hard time, and he bet it all on me!" James Woods looks good with a pony tail, and the opening scene where his new intern, played by Robert Downey, Jr., mistakes him for the cocaine dealer is hilarious. So is the scene where Downey tells Woods he is quitting because he is "tired of using exalted legal principles to get off guilty little pricks". (I bet Downey was glad for those exalted legal principles in his own case.) I have to disagree with the comment that this movie realistically portrays the "insidious relationship between police, district attorneys and their snitches". I wholeheartedly doubt that the frame at the heart of this movie is routine anywhere in the United States. But the movie does say something meaningful about the tragedy that happens when good people with good motives go too far. I knew this movie was a touchstone when someone used Downey's line on me during a job interview where I was seeking to hire an assistant district attorney. He didn't get the job, but I haven't forgotten him-and you won't forget this movie.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True believer November 1, 2001
another of those non-mainstream James Woods movies that turns out to be the one you remember forever. I honestly don't know how Woods can get so much emotion into a character.
This is probably his greatest work (with Diggstown right there) and you will be able to experience his characters Frustration, pain, and relief right along side him. A touch of humor to lighten but mostly the best dramatic court scenes and flat out grit will have you recommending this to strangers on the street.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Legal Thriller! April 11, 2007
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This movie is by far among the greatest legal thrillers I've seen, not only because the writing and directing are superb, but James Woods' acting performance is nothing short of spectacular. The variations he projects in his character expressions--with so many subtle nuances--make him 100% believable and fetching as that character. And when his sense of right is piqued, he explodes in the most compelling, absorbing, credible way--one which just pulls you another foot deeper into the story, kind of the way quicksand pulls you in: you just can't get out, nor do you want to.

In this story, the Woods character is fighting not only for an innocent man's life, a prisoner doing time, but even more important, he's fighting for his own life--his sense of self-respect, honor, and decency, none of which he feels in his earlier law practice while defending and acquitting sleazeballs whom he knows should be in prison instead wrecking society with their crimes.

I watched this movie a second time the night after I watched it the first time and got even more out of it. Buy it and keep it. It's far batter than most of the John Grisham legal thriller movies.

No question about it: James Woods is one of the most underrated actors today. He performed almost equally as well in "Indightment" the McMartin child abuse case.

I've omitted talking about the plot because you can obtain that from many of the below reviewers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Legal Drama Out There February 16, 2006
My wife had been fed up with all of the legal dramas I was maknig her watch. Being a third year law student she always netpicks the details. But the story in this fil overrides the legal fallacies, making True Believer a great drama that centers around a lawsuit.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars James Woods at his finest
This is basically a cold case kind of thing when all kinds of stuff that happened years ago gets unearthed and then a wronged man gets freed from prison. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jackslookingat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite movies.
Published 3 months ago by Marilyn Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great acting, a great story
We love this movie and have watched it many times. James Woods is great, and it is a great story.
Published 3 months ago by Mary Krieg
3.0 out of 5 stars Just so, so....
I love James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. In saying that this was an OK film, but may be just a bit dated now. They all did a good job and it was a good cast. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rocky
4.0 out of 5 stars TRUE BELIEVER
It liked me a lot, not only for the great performances but for the theme itself.
Sometimes life faces you to the fact that you have fougth for something that was good and true... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ivonne Campos
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dramatic Murder Mystery
True Believer, 1989 film

It starts on a street where a man fires a pistol at another man. The crowd scatters. Next we see men in prison. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Acute Observer
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars
Im in law school, i love con law, although james woods impassioned closing statement and badgering of DA isn't allowed in real life, most of the script was true to life.
Published 12 months ago by Teresa Cordoba
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than my original expectation ...
I purchased this one because it sounded like it was a good courtroom movie ... it is more than that. The plot is good and it is well acted. Suspenseful to the end.
Published 12 months ago by Sister Benedicta
5.0 out of 5 stars True Believer
I saw this movie as a rental years ago because it had a short run in the theatres. I have always liked James woods and this is one of his best roles. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Bernard Gauthier
5.0 out of 5 stars Eddie Dodd - remnant of the '60s
No James Woods fan nor not yet alive in the '60s - you'll not grasp why this was worth making. I'm not better - just old. Wouldn't have missed those yrs for anything. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kandy Langford
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