True Believer (1988)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Jul-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 103:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joseph Ruben

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Woods
Robert Downey, Jr.
Margaret Colin
Kurtwood Smith
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Brad Fiedel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There is a touch of irony in a character being played by bad-boy Robert Downey, Jr. going to work for a defence lawyer who specialises in getting drug dealers and pot possessors off the hook! The lawyer doesn't even mind the odd joint himself, much to Downey's chagrin. This was in the good old days, when Robert Downey, Jr. was a bright-eyed young man playing bright-eyed young characters. How times change.

    A very cheaply dressed and pony-tailed James Woods plays Eddie Dodd, a one-time high-flying civil rights lawyer in the 60s who now spends most of his time defending drug dealers, pushers, and general low-lifes. An eager young associate played by Robert Downey, Jr. joins Dodd's firm and urges him to reopen an eight year old murder case. The case saw a young man convicted of a murder that he did not appear to commit, and who is now spending time in prison for it. Dodd does some digging and uncovers a maze of corrupt coppers, gang violence, Nazi hate-groups, drug dealers, and a District Attorney (Kurtwood Smith) who seems to have something to hide.

    True Believer is essentially a courtroom drama with a touch of investigative thriller thrown in as well. Apparently, it has been released previously as Fighting Justice. I'm not too sure why it warranted a name change.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    I wasn't expecting too much from a late eighties film in terms of video quality but I was mostly surprised.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is pretty much standard fare from a Columbia Tristar title in terms of sharpness. These guys really know how to produce top quality transfers and this is no exception, being consistently sharp throughout, with only a small trace of edge enhancement that is in no way disruptive to the viewer. There are many darker scenes and these are handled well. Grain is probably the biggest problem area throughout the film with some really glaring examples at 6:15-6:20, 11:40-12:10, and 20:38. The grain at its worst is quite noticeable and disruptive to the viewer. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are pretty drab. Much like the jacket cover, there are plenty of browns and tans. They are certainly not vibrant but there is also no hint of oversaturation or bleeding.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts. Making a pleasant change is the lack of aliasing in any form. There are plenty of occasions when this is likely to raise its ugly head on several car grilles and street grates, but it does not. The usual smattering of film artefacts in the form of white and black spots and flecks appear throughout. These are not overly disruptive.

    There are a staggering 21 subtitle options present. I verified the presence of them all and extensively sampled the English flavour. No apparent problems were noticed and the subtitles were extremely accurate.

    This is a single sided, single layer disc so there is no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are 5 audio tracks available, these being a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track in English and Italian and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track in German, French and Spanish. I verified the presence of all tracks and listened entirely to the English track. This is not an overly aggressive sound mix with little rear use and being as the movie is pretty heavy on dialogue, most focus is on the centre channel.

    Dialogue is mostly clear and concise. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    The musical score is by Brad Fiedel and is fairly typical of mid to late 80s material. Heavy on synthesised percussion, it's surprising how dated it sounds now.

    There is very little surround channel usage and no dedicated subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Very basic and brief filmographies only for the Director Joseph Ruben and the two main leads James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr. The list of films are also only a selection so don't cover their careers in detail. Pretty worthless really.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is nothing compelling in the Region 1 offering that makes it preferable to the Region 4. The local disc is the better choice here for PAL formatting and cheaper price.


    True Believer is a fairly lacklustre 80s movie that would have moved to video pretty quickly when it was originally released and the sort of movie that appears on television after the footy late on a Saturday night. The video presentation is above average and was quite a surprise. The audio is serviceable without being overly remarkable. There are virtually no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)

Comments (Add) NONE