True Believer (1989)

R  |   |  Drama, Crime  |  17 February 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 3,201 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 14 critic

A cynical former civil liberties attorney now reduced to "specializing" in defending drug dealers becomes transformed by an eight-year-old murder case.



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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Miguel Fernandes ...
Art Esparza
Vincent Dennehy
Sully Diaz ...
Maraquilla Esparza
Misan Kim ...
Mrs. Kim
Chuckie Loeder
Ortega (as Luis Guzman)
Tony Haney ...
Dean Rabin


Eddie Dodd is a burnt out former civil rights lawyer who now specializes in defending drug dealers. Roger Baron, newly graduated from law school, has followed Eddie's great cases and now wants to learn at his feet. With Roger's idealistic prodding, Eddie reluctantly takes on a case of a young Korean man who, according to his mom, has been in jail for eight years for a murder he did not commit. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When evidence leads to murder, sometimes it takes a dangerous man to free an innocent one.


Drama | Crime


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 February 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das dreckige Spiel  »

Box Office


$8,742,750 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Released in Australia as "Fighting Justice". See more »


During the prison knife fight, Kim stabs the Nazi in the chest. The knife then alternates between still being in the Nazi's chest to being (correctly) taped to Kim's hand. See more »


Eddie Dodd: [to Kitty] You know, I haven't gotten stoned once since the trial started.
See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Homer and Apu (1994) See more »


Busload of Faith
Written and Performed by Lou Reed
Courtesy of Sire Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Just the way a thriller should be
9 August 2009 | by (Lisbon) – See all my reviews

Edward Dodd (James Woods) is a run-down lawyer who no longer shines the way he did 10 years ago. Back then he was writing history, saving the Black Panthers and stuff of the like. Now he protects drug pushers and street peddlers. Nevermind what excuses he finds for this gradual decay of affairs, for a skilled speaker and lawyer Dodd never ceases to be - this can be seen even as he defends crooks. Roger Baron (Robert Downey Jr) arrives to clerk for him and realizes the idea he had of Dodd no longer suits the reality of the man. Thus he proceeds to ask him to take a prisoner case.

This courtroom thriller has all that kind of movie should have; we see a well-crafted pace that keeps you tied to your seat, the kind of acting from James Woods that is hard to find nowadays, Robert Downey Jr also dons the recently-graduated idealistic law student to a tee. The film is reminiscent of a John Grisham novel. Margaret Colin as Kitty Greer is also great. In fact, every actor in this flick does a better-than-average role. Lacking in cheesiness, having the proper pace, the kind of twists that make it just a little less than predictable, and good acting plus a nice mix of occasional black-and-white flashbacks with the present and an original score by Brad Fiedel (Terminator, Terminator: 2) that fits the pace perfectly make for a movie that is clearly lacking in recognition.

Highly recommended thriller, 8/10.

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