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 Eddies great cases and now wants to learn at his feet. With Rogers 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.
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This is a surprisingly very good film. James Woods plays a pig-tailed, civil-rights, badly dressed, very eloquent, and very jaded lawyer who smokes marijuana and is prone to over-statements. A very young looking Robert Downey Jr. - it is 1989 - works as his admiring associate. They are approached by the mother of an Asian man who has spent eight years in prison for murder. She wants Wood to defend him for the recent murder in prison of a right-wing thug who tried to kill him. We see the event and it is clearly self defense. Downey persuades Woods to take the case, even though Woods hasn't handled a murder case in ten years. He spent the ten years defending drug dealers. Woods looks into the history of the Asian man and decides to file to reopen the eight-year old case. He finds a statement in the file that helps him get the case reopened. There was a witness who claimed that he saw the murder and it was committed by a non-Asian. Woods succeeds in getting the new trial, but faces several problems: this witness is clearly crazy, the prosecution has a witness who swears that she saw his client commit the murder, and forensics prove that the killing was done with the Asian's gun. Woods is threatened by a man who beats him up and tells him to drop the case. Why? The DA offers his client a much smaller sentence. Why? When Woods' client rejects the offer, the DA decides to try the case himself. Why? Woods finds a witness, but the witness is killed. Why? The trial drama is very interesting, but the DA is able to present a better case. But then Downey sees something and everything turns one hundred and eighty degrees.
This review is from: True Believer (DVD) I've always been a fan of James Woods and this is one of his best pieces. Kept you in suspense up to the last 20 minutes. I loved it.
Eminently watchable drama from 1989 with Woods as burned-out lawyer EddieDodd, formerly idealistic & successful civil liberties attorney who's now acallous defender of drug dealers ("No, pot possession cases are free. Cokedealers pay cash: that subsidizes the pot possession cases." Characterreputably based on real-life S.F. lawyer J. Tony Serra; hence the longhair), & Rbt. Downey, Jr., as his idealistic law clerk, fresh out of school.(Downey, Jr.'s, @first incredulous: "You were my age when you defended thatcase," to which Dodd retorts, "I was never your age.")There're a few continuity problems here, mainly which fingers the charcoalis on after Dodd's tussle with Chuckie, but they're pretty much overshadowedby some great sub-plots (Manhattan D.A.'s [Kurtwood "70s Show" Smith]curious interest in an 8-year-old murder case, Dodd's faded romance withP.I. Margaret Colin, the sadly schizoid Vietnam vet ["Cecil, are you whatheroes are made of?"]) & the main story line, the case of a convictedmurderer. Dodd @first dismisses Downey, Jr.'s, suggestion that they take thecase but later becomes so emotionally immersed in it that when Roger(Downey, Jr.) spins the futility here with "We all think it's a good fight,"Eddie pounces on him with some memorable oratory: "Don't give that liberal,yuppie b***s**t about a good fight; this isn't f*****g Yale! A good fight isone you win!"Directed by Joseph Ruben, with a nice, incidental orig. score by Brad Fidel& some slick ambient tunes (Doors's Crystal Ship, Lou Reed's Busload ofFaith).
This review is from: True Believer (DVD) The plot revolves around matters of legal and personal integrity, where a once honorable attorney (James Woods) who struggled for the rights of the under-dog now fights to free drug dealers. His newly hired law clerk, an idealistic youth played by Robert Downey Jr, helps to bring the lawyer a genuine case where corruption has put the wrong man behind bars. As the intricate plots unfolds, Woods' character begins to regain his personal and professional integrity. A brilliant supporting performance by Kurtwood Smith as the D.A. helps boost this film.
Eddie Dodd is a New York City lawyer with a noted history of sixtiescivil rights cases who has lapsed into defending drug-pushing hoodlums.He takes the case of Shu Kai Kim, a man wrongfully convicted for astreetgang killing eight years prior, and discovers that Kim was justthe patsy in a big operation stretching all the way to the DA's office.Even if you don't normally rate courtroom thrillers or cop movies,check this one out - it is handsomely made by a much underrateddirector, has a terrific script that keeps pulling off great twists andfeatures a sensational show-stopping performance by Woods. Eddie Doddis a fascinating character type almost unique in eighties movies; apot-smoking old hippy who used to have a set of principles and istrying to pretend he still does. It's the only example I've ever foundthat picks at the hell-no-we-won't-go generation who turned intoBMW-driving executives for life insurance companies, and Woods(complete with a poofy ponytail) revs it up for all it's worth, sleazyand well-intentioned at the same time. When the conservative whitebreadDA accuses him of being a man who defends coke pushers for free, hisresponse is, "Coke pushers pay cash, Mr Reynard. That subsidises thepot possession cases. They're free.". The rest of the cast areexcellent, with lots of great players in the small roles (Hallahan,Bower, Guzman, Fuller) and Wesley Strick's great dialogue makes themjump off the screen with immediacy. Equally good is the piano and bassscore by Brad Fiedel and there is some inspired use of classic sixtiesanthems, as well as a great end-credits song by Lou Reed (anothersixties survivor) called Busload Of Faith. All this, combined withRuben's assured direction and classy photography by John W. Lindley,add up to a legal thriller that is way above average; atmospheric,exciting, dramatic and it doesn't take itself too seriously. Don't missit. The UK print of this movie I own has a dumb alternative title,Fighting Justice.
Technically excellent and tightly made - perhaps TOO tightly. It's soplot-heavy and complicated that the characters aren't allowed much room tobreathe; they're too occupied with trying to push the story forward. Thefewpersonal moments are nicely played but they aren't enough. The movierelentlessly keeps throwing in new information and complications, and it'stoo talky for a thriller. Woods occasionally overacts, but he does give acharge to his role. (**1/2)
I thought they'd never be able to squeeze another laugh out of somebodysmoking grass again, not after the last few Cheech and Chong movies, buthere it is all over again. There really isn't that much dope smoked, andthat only at the beginning, and it is amusing. The scene is used toestablish the fact that James Woods' character, Eddie Dodd, is a leftoverradical from the 1960s. In case you didn't get it from his smoking grass, ahabit he kicks during the trial (a throwback not to the 1960s but to "ReeferMadness"), he also has a pony tail. Well, the poor guy has gone downhillsince his early activist days. He still spouts the rhetoric but has stoppedto defending coke dealers and making a good deal of money from his cases,using the money, he claims, to handle his marijuana cases pro bono. A newlyminted lawyer from Michigan joins him and, though disillusioned, pals up andhelps handle the case of Ku Shai Kim, a Korean falsely convicted of homicide8 years ago, now a resident of what appears to be Sing Sing. (The locationsare said to be shot in Oakland, but they look pretty convincingly NewYorkish to me. Oakland is gritty, true, but not THIS gritty. And Sing Singlooks like Sing Sing, just as Pell Street looks like Pell Street. The CourtHouse IS in New York, period.) The plot could have been recycled from a noir screenplay that has beenresting in somebody's drawer for forty or fifty years, though it is playedmore for laughs than despair. The innocent Korean lad turns out to havebeen nailed through the machinations of a politically motivated and corruptpolice force and DA's office. There are a couple of beatings. A murder ortwo. A flashback that reveals the true nature of the crime. The prisoneris freed -- a more recent killing, probably in self defense, is entirelyskipped over -- and joins his happy family and goes home to a meal ofbulkogi or something. Woods, his faith in the justice system, in humannature, and in himself restored, claps his new law partner on the back andbegins spouting 1960s slogans again as they stroll into thesunset.Woods is up to the role, as usual, wisecracking has way through the mostdemanding travails. (While being pounded to a pulp and being called, "A****** Jew," he grimaces through his pain and snaps, "Only half." There isone scene, towards the end, when someone's brains are blown out in front ofhim and he looks shocked and convincingly frightened, although the momentdoesn't last long. Abject cowardice is not Woods' strong suit as an actor. He can't seem to hold back these fleeting, nervous smiles. They come and goin an instant, meaninglessly. Natalie Wood had the same problem. Bogarthad his lip twitches too, but he was judicious about their deployment. Robert Downey looks appealingly innocent. Margaret Colin is plumply pretty. She generally holds her face down and looks upward at people with her greatbig dark attractive eyes. Poor Kurtwood Smith. A villain again. His voicehas a built in sneer, his eyes seem small, and his profile is almost flat. But he's a reliable villain. Some character actors give the impression thatthey're being treated unfairly by being cast in the same slots repeatedly,but Smith would have a hard time being anything other than what he usuallyplays. The other players are decent as well. Perhaps the funniest scene isa brief argument between Downey and a psychiatric patient who believesKennedy was assassinated by the phone company because he wanted to break itup into smaller companies and the company would never let him do that. Downey tells him that the phone company actually has been split up. Thepatient says, "Oh -- and you BELIEVE that?" Downey begins to argue with theguy, saying he can bring papers that will prove he's telling the truth,until interrupted by Woods, who begs him to stop, "Please!" There is nothing new in this film. The disillusioned activist business issuperimposed on a traditional plot. But it's easy to watch, amusing inparts, and occasionally brings a welcome tension to the screen. I've seenit several times and rather enjoyed it.
I saw this movie around 1990 and was surprised at how smart this moviewas.Few movies from the 80s were so fascinating. James Woods is one of thebestactors that came from the 80s. That is why I hate Tom Cruise films fromthe80s and usually from the 90s.
Okay. I'm a huge James Woods fan, so I may be a bit biased. But a lot ofthese reviews on this movie are pretty unfair - *especially* the one wherethe only comments made about the entire movie was a detailed description ofthe "nightmare" Woods' hairpiece inspired for the viewer. C'mon, that hasnothing to do with anything. (I, personally, quite liked seeing Woods withlong hair for a change - but that's not the point of this review, so I'mmoving on.)This movie's plot, about a disillusioned lawyer who has spent the latterhalf of his career getting drug dealers freed, and suddenly gets a chanceata case where he can really do something _good_ - namely, free an innocentman - is a story that packs a lot of power. And most of that power comesfrom Woods in his role as Eddie Dodd, the shambled attorney. Man, if Woodswould ever find himself without work, he could always go back to school andgo into law; raw passion, this guy has it. The court scenes are brilliant.Actually, all of the scenes are brilliant. You can't watch this moviewithout being amazed at the depths of emotion that this character is goingthrough, all visible on his face, in his eyes, in his voice. The acting issuperb. (A rarity with some more recent movies, in my opinion.) Thecharacter is superb. Woods turns him from a character into a real _person_,someone you can relate to, someone you can understand and sympathize with.Which is really what makes a movie great.The acting is great, the story is gripping - the audience can try to stayone step ahead of the characters, but good luck! Everything unfolds at agood pace, without getting either too slow or too confusing. Robert Downey,Jr., is both amusing and poignant as a green attorney working for Dodds;andYuji Okumoto, as Shu, has some really in-depth scenes against Dodds. Allthecharacters are great.It's got action, it's got power, it's got raw emotion, it's got _feeling_.The ending was poignant enough to make me cry. So, hey, if you likewatchinga film that will get your attention and maybe even make you re-think a fewthings about how America is handled, give this movie a try. Because,really,the hairpiece on Woods is actually quite attractive. ;-)
This review is from: True Believer (DVD) I enjoy James Woods and this is vintage Woods as the dope dealer lawyer pulled into the appeal of a murder conviction. Good supporting cast.
This review is from: True Believer (DVD) I just watched this yesterday and it was a very enjoyable and had a very surprising end. The actors were excellent. I am a James Woods fan anyway. It is worth the price and the time to watch it.
James Woods has been one of the best actors in the screen. He is outstanding and always he commits in just five hundred per cent in all his performances. Powerful and expressive, but in Hollywood he has had just isolated opportunities. It's missunderstable.Earl Dodd is very special lawyer, he isn't a typical image of lucky lawyer. and obviously our character lived with too much passion those singular decades from the sixties and seventies. From this perpective a singular case challenges him; to assume the defense of a chinese acussed of murder, being not guilty. This movie will tell about all the resources and special methods of our antihero for winning this dark case.Robert Downey Jr. plays the typical role of the rookie naif lawyer who thinks the world is fair and clean. Soon he'll learn too many issues about how to deal with the life and specaiily in this business.A well built script allows Woods to release all his stamina and skills, specially in front the Court in the first half of the film.Solid film , with smart situations and a fine sense of humor. Worthy work.
This was a good, but not great movie. If you like James Woods you willlikethis movie, if you don't you probably won't. Standard plot: Lawyers trytosolve a murder and expose bad guys to save their client. How can you gowrong? Look for "Red" from "That 70's show". Downey & Woods wouldreunite3 years later in "Chaplin". 7 1/2 out of 10
As a lawyer who has been both prosecutor and public defender, I have to say this is my favorite movie about lawyers and my favorite James Woods performance. I get goosebumps every time I hear his speech about ..."the only good fight is one you win!", said with the passion and spite that only James Woods has perfected. His comment on plea bargaining, that "..this isn't ... Yale, he [the client] doesn't care if we go down but go down nobly. He's looking at 40 years of hard time, and he bet it all on me!" James Woods looks good with a pony tail, and the opening scene where his new intern, played by Robert Downey, Jr., mistakes him for the cocaine dealer is hilarious. So is the scene where Downey tells Woods he is quitting because he is "tired of using exalted legal principles to get off guilty little pricks". (I bet Downey was glad for those exalted legal principles in his own case.) I have to disagree with the comment that this movie realistically portrays the "insidious relationship between police, district attorneys and their snitches". I wholeheartedly doubt that the frame at the heart of this movie is routine anywhere in the United States. But the movie does say something meaningful about the tragedy that happens when good people with good motives go too far. I knew this movie was a touchstone when someone used Downey's line on me during a job interview where I was seeking to hire an assistant district attorney. He didn't get the job, but I haven't forgotten him-and you won't forget this movie.
"True Believer" is all about James Woods as a once renown trial lawyerwho,having been beaten down by the system, is encouraged by a rookie lawyer(Downey) to try to reclaim the moral high ground by defending a possiblyinnocent man imprisoned for murder. The film gets busy and stays busyconjuring countless situations for Woods to do what he does best, emotingand ranting, as he gets beat up both in and out of the courtroom. Anominalmelodramatic blast from the past, this flick suffers from tweaking andcontrivances while ending like every episode of Perry Mason. A okay watchfor Woods fans and aficionados of court-room dramas. (B-)
Edward Dodd played by James Woods is the disillusioned cynical criminallawyer who has made a career fighting for ideals such as justice,freedom and equality for all. Fighting against the abuses of the legalsystem he though has realised that the only way he can protect theideals he treasures so much is by representing uncouth drug dealers whodo not appreciate what he does for them. All of sudden a youngidealistic lawyer out of law school played by Robert Downey Jr, joinshis firm in pursuit of the same ideals as Edward Dodd. The younglawyer, despite been an irritation to Dodd starts reminding him of theway he was when he started his law practise. One day in hisdisillusioned state a mother walks into Dodd's office asking him todefend her son who has been falsely accused and convicted of murder.The young lawyer convinces Dodd to take the case and suddenly Dodd'sspirit is revived and there is meaning amongst all the hypocrisy oncemore. The two lawyers then embark on a perilous journey uncovering thetruth behind corrupt police officers and state prosecutors who believethat the end justifies the means. Woods is brilliant with his emotionaloutbursts fighting for justice and fairness against a system which haslet him down so many times. Downy portrays the young naive idealist toperfection. Lots of suspense and drama right to the court room climaxguaranteed to keep you in suspense right to the end.
it takes all kinds, as I noticed someone thought this was boring. Wow! Clever dialogue, sharp acting, scary violence, moving innocence trodden under the heel of official corruption and cynicism, if this is boring I have no idea what to suggest.There are more good one liners in this movie than in a Fred Allen retrospective. At the very beginning the young idealistic apprentice lawyer who has come to work with the great Eddie Dodd, mistakes the pony tailed defense lawyer for the cocaine dealer he is defending! Boy is he embarrassed. Later, when Dodd confronts the neo nazi brotherhood about whether they were behind his street attack, the guy with the rifle standing in the house decorated with swastikas says: "if we were behind it, you wouldn't be here now".When the dirty cop points a gun at him, fires a round past his temple and sugests he back off, he slows briefly but says, scared but resolute, "sorry guys, can't do it, I've gotta be in court."You may not enjoy it, but i am a cheapskate with over 100 copied vhs tapes from the tube, and I am about to plunk down hard cash to buy this one. Along with Witness, Fugitive, Don Juan de Marco, One Eyed Jacks, The Sting, True Lies, and a few others, this goes in my collection of movies to watch more than once.The unappreciated reference above was to a scene where the mother of the innocent convict says: "We asked everywhere for a lawyer to help us, and everywhere they mentioned your name." Oh? says Eddie Dodd, genuinely flattered, "What did they say?". She replies, "They all say, you work cheap."And the brilliant bad guy DA is one of the classic hateable guys in film, the more than cold father of the kid who shoots hiimself in "Dead Poets Society". i hope this is enough, not to persuade you, but to let you decide for yourself, whether to try it.And I hope the bored guy above donates his copy to the library. It is at least 4 stars but i gave it 5 to balance off the absurd 1 star review just mentioned.
Eddie Dodd (James Woods) was a civil rights lawyer in the 60s and 70s, but has been reduced to defending drug dealers (4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure). Enter Roger Baron (Robert Downey, Jr.) who idolizes him from his activist past and wants to work for him.Roger is in the front office one day when the mother of Shu Kai Kim comes in and, through an interpreter, begs them to represent her son. He has been charged with murder in the prison where he has served eight years for a crime he didn't commit. In fact, the killing was clearly self-defense against a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.It becomes clear that the only way to get him off on the prison case is by reopening the Chinatown shooting for which he had been convicted eight years before. Dodd manages to do that, but finds himself in a very, very complicated and messy investigation in trying to uncover evidence that has been buried for eight years.But Dodd and Baron are way smarter than they look. I did not guess the turn the case took until it was developed on-screen. If you like detective stories, crime stories, courtroom dramas, chances are you'll like this movie.
another of those non-mainstream James Woods movies that turns out to be the one you remember forever. I honestly don't know how Woods can get so much emotion into a character.This is probably his greatest work (with Diggstown right there) and you will be able to experience his characters Frustration, pain, and relief right along side him. A touch of humor to lighten but mostly the best dramatic court scenes and flat out grit will have you recommending this to strangers on the street.
I'm a big James Woods fan and came across this movie here. I have never heard of it and it is not available at any of the video stores in my area. So I ordered it because of all the positive reviews here, but wound up turning it off in the middle. It was real long, uninteresting, and was taking too long for anything to happen. If you haven't seen this movie before, I would recommend you not buy this yet, like I did. Try checking out "Indictment" or "Dirty Pictures", two of Woods's best movies.