• True Believer (Mill Creek Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: August 13th, 2019.
    Director: Joseph Ruben
    Cast: James Woods, Robert Downey Jr., Margaret Colin, Kurtwood Smith, Yuju Okumoto
    Year: 1989
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    True Believer – Movie Review:

    James Woods plays Eddie Dodd. He was once a big shot civil rights attorney back in the 1960’s, fighting the good fight and hoping to help right some wrongs. These days, however, he’s a grouchy, middle-aged man who seems to have lost the fire that kept him going. Reduced to defending lowlife drug dealers (who pay well and in cash), it’s safe to that when it comes to Eddie’s love of the law, the thrill is gone. He does, however, enjoy smoking weed and growing bad ponytails.

    That all changes when he meets a young upstart named Roger Baron (Robert Downey Jr.), a young lawyer familiar with Dodd’s past and impressed with what he was able to accomplish back in the day. Baron wants to learn from Dodd, and quickly figures out that the guy is a bit of a curmudgeon. Regardless, things change for the two of them when a Korean woman (Misan Kim) comes to Dodd’s office. She wants him to re-open an eight-year-old case involving the murder of a young man that took place as part of a gang initiation. The accused? A man named Shu Kai Kim (Yuju Okumoto), who happens to be this woman’s son and who she insists is doing hard time for a crime he wasn’t responsible for. Eddie isn’t interested, but Baron is and after some protest, the two of them agree to work the case together.

    The more they start digging into the case, the more faults they find with it and it isn’t long before they’ve uncovered a legitimate travesty of justice, which lands them in hot water and leads to the predictable, but enjoyable, court room showdown at the end.

    You wouldn’t necessarily expect the director of The Stepfather and The Pom-Pom Girls to deliver a solid court room thriller like this, but that’s just what Joseph Ruben does. True Believer isn’t a perfect film but it’s a good enough film that it’s worth seeking out. Ruben paces it well and if it isn’t a super flashy picture, it doesn’t need to be. There’s a good story being told here and while it leans toward the generic side of things, Ruben is smart enough to use that ace up his sleeve.

    And that ace, dear readers, is James Woods. While you might figure Downey to be the one to really shine here, given that he’s just come off of the critically acclaimed Less Than Zero and was just about to make Chaplin, but no. His performance here is fine, but it doesn’t really stand out. There’s some fine supporting performances from the likes of Kurtwood Smith, Margaret Colin and Luis Guzman, but they’re just that, supporting performances. No disrespect to any of them, but they don’t quite get the time to shine in this picture that the leads do. That brings us back to Woods, who is just flat out fantastic in the kind of role that he excels at playing. Dodd is quirky, a little bit angry and more than a tad manic – traits that Woods embodies in his best work and he does an excellent job of elevating this picture substantially and making it far more entertaining than it might seem to be on the surface.

    True Believer – Blu-ray Review:

    True Believer is presented on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1. The transfer is decent, if never reference quality. Likely taken from an older, existing master we get solid detail and a good amount of depth to the picture. The image is pretty clean, showing little print damage but a natural amount of film grain. Colors look nice, black levels are fine. You might spot some minor compression in a few spots but otherwise, no digital anomalies to report and the picture is free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement problems.

    The English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track on the disc is fine. This is a pretty dialogue-heavy movie so don’t expect a whole lot of complex sound design here, but the track is clean, clear and properly balanced, free of any problematic hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    There are no extras on the disc outside of menus and chapter selection but the ‘retro VHS’ style slipcover packaging that Mill Creek has provided for this release is admittedly kind of cool.

    True Believer – The Final Word:

    True Believer is a decent enough court room drama/thriller hybrid made more interesting than it could have been thinks to the presence of Downey and especially Woods. Mill Creek’s Blu-ray debut for the film is devoid of any extras but it’s priced right and the presentation of the feature is solid enough.

    Click on the images below for full sized True Believer Blu-ray screen caps!