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True Believer

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Joseph Ruben

James Woods stars as a William Kuntsler-style lawyer in this tale of injustice and renewed dignity. In the 1960s, idealistic advocate Eddie Dodd courted controversy by defending outspoken youths and free spirits. Alas, in the 20 years since, he has succumbed … see full wiki

Director: Joseph Ruben
Release Date: 1989
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about True Believer

True Believer – James Woods & Robert Downey, Jr.

  • Sep 29, 2003
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Cons: ,,,,,,,,,

The Bottom Line: _______________

Movies dealing with the underdog are often shoved into various categories but for some reason, we always root for the underdog. They don’t always win, which is painfully true to real life. In True Believer we find Eddie Dodd, an attorney for the slime that peddle dope. I’m not talking your ten cent baggie and rolling papers, I’m talking the big stuff. Eddie is successful at getting his clients off and they pass the buckos right back to him.

In walks Roger Baron, gonna clerk for Eddie because he finds him some sort of hero for the underdog. It isn’t that Eddie believes that dope should be sold (although he does his fair share of toking in the movie) but that he feels the rights of people have been compromised by the oppressive government. Yep, he was a walker during the riotous 60’s & 70’s, demanding civil rights for everyone.

While Roger doesn’t exactly believe in what Eddie is doing, he still feels Eddie is a powerful attorney who has perhaps lost his way – maybe even never really had a cause. That cause appears late one night by the name of Shu Kai Kim. Kim is in prison for murdering a member of a rival gang, but his mother knows he is innocent. In fact, many believe he was just used as a scapegoat to get a conviction so the mucky-mucks could say – See, we arrested someone, we are doing something to fight gang crime – yeah, right.

Although Eddie fights accepting the case it is Roger’s dogged determination that finally gets the bone in Eddie’s mouth and you just know the opposition is gonna rue the day that Eddie Dodd heard the story of Shu Kai Kim.

True Believer was directed by Joseph Ruben who won the Grand Prix from Cognac Festival du Film Policier. It was written by Wesley Strick who was nominated for the Edgar Best Motion Picture Award from the Edgar Allan Poe Awards. You may find similarities between this movie and another underdog Rainmaker where Matt Damon goes after the mega insurance companies and Jon Voight, or even the poignant portrayal, and probably the most powerful role every played by Kevin Bacon with his
Murder in the First with Christian Slater as the novice counsel.

If you have ever admired any James Woods flicks, this would be a good one to watch. You have to forgive his unusual physical appearance, perhaps it was a phase, and watch him become dedicated and fired up in the courtroom. It reminded me of his vivid and moving performance as the art director trying to get the Maplethorpe collection shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, the in the movie Dirty Pictures. His acting is often very passionate and involved as it was in both these releases.

On the other hand, Robert Downey, Jr. looked so innocent and wide-eyed in the movie. Could have been contrived to make Woods look even more bizarre than he did or could have been designed to represent the innocence of the novice entering the law world. Downey was very into this part, often outspoken and sometimes just a scared shy young man.

Yuji Okumoto played the part of Shu Kai Kim. If you look into his face you can see the innocence he held, something that has been shaded by his eight years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. Not that he has been the sweet flower in prison either but prison can change a man in a heartbeat.

Most reprehensible was the part of Kurtwood Smith as prosecutor Robert Reynard. Apparently he did his job well cause I hate the guy and that is just what you were supposed to do.

I was pleased with the movie, a good solid watch. No specials on the DVD.



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