True Lies (1994)

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Released 12-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 135:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Cameron

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tom Arnold
Bill Paxton
Art Malik
Tia Carrere
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Brad Fiedel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, closing credits over action

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

Plot Synopsis

    I really like the movie True Lies. I think it's a perfect combination of action and comedy, with a sexy icing. Arnold Schwarzenegger provides the action. Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton provide the comedy. Tia Carrere and Jamie Lee Curtis provide the sex. That's not to say that Arnie and Jamie Lee aren't funny - they are. Oh, and this film has an early appearance of Eliza Dushku, too, and an uncredited cameo of Charlton Heston as Arnie's boss.

    The short description of this movie is simple enough - it out-Bonds James Bond. The action parts are more violent than Bond (Bond movies are PG, this one is M). The comedy is more involving, for reasons I'll get to in a moment. 

    True Lies opens with a classic Bond-style intro - our hero is infiltrating a high class party at a bad guy's place. He enters underwater, but when he dumps the aqualung we find he has a dinner suit underneath (very Bond). But Arnie has even brought a splash of cologne with him (Bond never thought of that). He gets away with his infiltration by a combination of bravado and gimmicks. Naturally, he is discovered and must run for it, pursued by dogs, snowmobiles, skiers, and lots of bullets. Classic stuff, well done.

    When Arnie gets away, he flies home to his family. On the job, he is Harry Renquist. At home, he is Harry Tasker. His family (wife Jamie Lee Curtis, and daughter Eliza Dushku) think he is a software salesman, selling order-entry software for Tektel. Unlike Bond, Harry has a private life.

    And that's where the comedy comes in. Harry's private life, and his work as a secret agent, are about to get involved. Bond never had the problem of trying to keep his family unaware of his work. Bond also never had a sidekick like Gib (Tom Arnold) - he gets some of the funniest lines.

    Trust me, this is a funny, exciting, movie. If you haven't already seen it (and lots of us have), then you have a treat in store. I don't want to spoil it, so I'm not going to tell you any more about it, except to say that there was a suggestion that we might be getting a censored version of the movie. I'm pleased to say that we haven't - I've checked for the known cuts, and the footage is all present and accounted for.

    James Cameron, the director, really knows how to use special effects. Rather than planning a special effect, then working out how to fit it into the movie (something we have seen in other movies), he uses special effects to enhance the story he is trying to tell. That is not to say that we are short-changed on special effects - there are some truly spectacular effects, but they are a seamless part of the movie - that's really good directing.

    In Region 1, Columbia Tristar recently announced a new category of DVD - the Superbit series. These discs forego extras so that they can devote all of the disc space to the best possible transfer of the movie. I was really looking forward to seeing the Superbit discs - I think I just have.

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

Transfer Quality


    This is the best transfer I have ever seen. Last time I mentioned that it was in connection with Mouse Hunt. That was superb. This is better. This is true reference quality, and then some. The video bit rate runs around 6 to 8 Mbps continuously, and it shows.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. That is the original aspect ratio.

    The image is superbly sharp, and limpidly clear, throughout. Shadow detail is impressive. There are a couple of fade-to-black shots, and the black is deep and rich, with absolutely no trace of low-level noise.

    Colours are brilliantly rendered. Bright colours are fully saturated, with no hint of colour bleed. Some of the action takes place at night, and we are talking real night, not blue-filter day for night, so colour fidelity is maintained. Some scenes are staged in horrible light conditions (gas-fired camp lights, portable electric flood lights) and still the image is clear, sharp, and colour as true as it can be.

    I was looking for artefacts, and so was my fellow reviewer (Ed. Your humble editor got to enjoy this magnificent DVD along with Tony). We were gob-smacked. The film is spotless - not a single film artefact to be seen. We thought we might have seen a trace of aliasing, but we rolled back and checked: nothing. There are no film-to-video artefacts. There are no MPEG artefacts. We could not find a single artefact in the entire film. Are they trying to put reviewers out of business? (I hope so!)

    There are 14 subtitle tracks. I checked the English, and it is accurate and well-timed. The font is attractive, clear, and easy to read. On a 4:3 set the subtitles are placed in the black bar below the picture - perfect.

    The disc is single sided and double layered. It is RSDL-formatted. I have been reviewing DVDs for a while, and I can usually spot the layer change. Not this time. I went hunting, and found it. It's at 76:16, at a cut from one side of a door to the other. The camera is focused on the door, and in a moment it opens. The layer change is right there, when there's no movement on-camera, and no sound. Beautiful work.

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


    There are two soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish 2.0 surround-encoded. I only listened to the English soundtrack. I'm very pleased to say that the audio is almost as good as the video. Oh, there's nothing wrong with the audio - it is reference quality - it is just not quite as spectacular.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood, with no visible losses in audio sync. With the brilliant humour in some of the throwaway lines it is vital that the dialogue is clear - no problems there.

    The score is by Brad Fiedel. The movie and the score dovetail well. 

    The surrounds are not much used during most of the soundtrack (a little of the score, that's all). During action sequences, however, there are some nice directional effects, including a couple of fly-bys, making it quite clear that we have separate surround channels.

    The subwoofer is perfectly integrated into the score and the effects. You bought your subwoofer to enhance explosions? You won't be disappointed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only extra on this disc is the theatrical trailer. That doesn't bother me at all - they've put all the effort for this transfer into the movie, where we can enjoy it every time we watch it.


    The menu is animated, with sound. It has nice transitions, themed to the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (2:11)

    This is not, in fact, the theatrical trailer. I think it's the TV trailer, because it is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The transfer is excellent. 


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 disc is almost identical to this one, except that it is not 16x9 enhanced. It has a very good transfer, and looks quite nice. It has exactly the same trailer as its only extra. I was not unhappy with owning it, but I wanted 16x9 enhancement. We got a bit more than that.

    The cover of our disc has essentially the same artwork as the R1, but ours is enhanced with red foil - a nice touch. The R1 is in an Alpha case (one of the ones where you have to lift the disc from one side, guaranteeing a fingerprint on the data side). We get a transparent Amaray.

    I gotta say it again. Region 1 gets a good transfer. We get a perfect transfer, and it is 16x9 enhanced. (Ed. I have to state that on direct comparison, the Region 1 DVD looks positively ordinary next to the Region 4 DVD, and the Region 1 suffers from some very noticeable and unpleasant edge enhancement which is magnificently absent from the Region 4 DVD.)

    OK, to be utterly honest, there is one thing missing from the Region 4 which is present on the Region 1. In addition to the English 5.1 soundtrack, the R1 has a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack. I think we'll survive without it.


    True Lies is a fabulous movie, with a perfect transfer. This disc belongs in your collection.

    The video quality is perfect.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extra is nicely presented.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, September 05, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
What can I say..... - Andrew (Read my Bio.)
Aliasing - Christian (You may read my bio.) REPLY POSTED
Sorry But... - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
Re: A Few Comments Of Mine About This Film - Andrew (Read my Bio.)
Racism in True Lies... - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)
Better than 007 -
part 2 -
Cheesy Hack Job - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
RE: Cheesy hack job -
Racism in True Lies -
Not for Mature Audience's - Damien (biotech is godzilla)