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True Believer

79 customer reviews

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(Apr 03, 2001)
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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.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Downey, Kurtwood Smith, Tom Bower, James Woods
  • Directors: Joseph Ruben
  • Producers: Lawrence Lasker, Walter Parkes
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0), 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: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056WR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,122 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "True Believer" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Far Lefkas on 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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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 31, 2001
Format: DVD
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Hirschi on November 1, 2001
Format: DVD
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Govinda108 on 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 By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
True Believer is a film that shows how the human spirit changes, loses its way but is redeemed. James Woods gives a masterful performance as Eddie Dodd, a burnt out lawyer who loses sight of why he first became a lawyer. The sincerity of his performance shines when together with Kim (the Korean wrongly accused of murder) he confesses that the case was really about two people with similiar dilemmas trying to find redemption. The final courtroom scene was masterful as Woods slyly leads the DA to reveal the awful truth behind the original murder case. That scene has the same intensity as the scene in "A Few Good Men" but with more restraint. The plot is well structured with a few twists. Robert Downey, Jr is a good compliment to Woods, balancing the cynicism with a boyish idealism. Margaret Colin is supportive and also balances Woods with an interesting mix of street smarts and pragmaticism.
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