6.7/10
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28 user 15 critic

True Believer (1989)

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

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)
...
Sklaroff
Tony Haney ...
Montell
...
Dean Rabin
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Storyline

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 <Vertigus@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The killing. The conviction. The cover-up. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Crime

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das dreckige Spiel  »

Box Office

Gross:

$8,742,750 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character Shu Kai Kim is based on Korean-American Chol Soo Lee, who was imprisoned for nearly 10 years after wrongful conviction for a murder he did not commit. See more »

Goofs

The opportunity for cross-examination or re-direct examination of the witnesses is frequently glossed over. Not just that a character doesn't cross-examine such as the lack of cross of the prisoner at the end of the state's case, but most egregiously, the judge gives the district attorney no opportunity for re-direct of the eyewitness who testified she never took her eyes off the gun even though she obviously wanted to say more. No competent DA would fail to give her a chance to clarify her statements during the cross-examination. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Dodd: We pleaded out Clyde Gruner to five years probation.
Billy: Ohhhh, score another point for truth and justice!
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

All Along The Watchtower
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Jimi Hendrix
Courtesy of A.R.M. BV & Are You Experienced Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
One of Wood's best performances... seriously.
4 March 2007 | by (Mesa, AZ) – See all my reviews

This is a very well done court room drama that is based on an actual case from actual liberal left wing attorney, J. Tony Serra. James Woods plays the fictionalized version of Serra, under the name Eddie Dodd. Robert Downey, Jr. plays Roger Baron, a young idealistic lawyer that comes to clerk for the once famous Dodd- with dreams of defending civil liberties and making a difference.

He arrives only to find the once rebellious and justice minded Dodd defending drug addicts and drug dealers. One evening a young Korean woman & lady come to his offices looking for help. Her son was sent to jail 8 years ago & is now accused of murder because of a prison fight that resulted in the death of a member of the Aryan army. Despite the fact it's not his area of "expertise," Roger convinces Dodd to take the case.

For Dodd, this case, this young man, Shu Kai Kim played very well by Yuji Okumoto, represents so much more than just another case. Dodd himself is looking to reclaim his own enthusiasm, freedom and hope. The District Attorney is played very reliably by Kurtwood Smith (poor guy- pre "70's show" he always seemed to play a bad guy.)

The main reason I like this movie are the actors. Yes, the story is somewhat predictable- but there are some turns that make you doubt who is innocent & who is guilty on first viewing. James Woods' performance in this movie is one of his most versatile and enjoyable. He transitions with ease from humorous sarcasm to an almost raw vulnerability. One of the best scenes is one in which he tells his client, "I know you're innocent- even if you've forgotten." After 8 years in prison, Shu isn't the same man he was when he went in. Just as Dodd tells Roger at the beginning of the movie that 10 years is a lot of time- in other words, despite his shinning past as a defender of civil liberties- he has also changed. Cynicism is something that creeps stealthily into everyone as age and time increase. In the movie "And Justice for All" they delve into the difficulty of being a defense lawyer & having to defend people you may know full well did a heinous crime of some sort. This has to change a person and that is part of what this movie is about.

All the other actors, including Margaret Colin as the PI Kitty Greer, are believable and supply good support for the main character of Dodd. This is basically Woods' show, and that's okay with me since I'm a big fan of his. He was also fabulous in "Salvador" but then I think he is fabulous. If you like Woods, you'll like this movie I think - if you like a good story, I think you'll like this movie.


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