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James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger have had their share of collaborative success over the years. After scoring big with 1984’s The Terminator and continuing with its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the pair teamed up for 1994’s True Lies. A mixture of action and comedy, the film was another box office hit. Have Fox managed to repeat that success on the small screen? Read on...

True Lies
Film
True Lies is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s take on James Bond. Schwarzenegger stars as Harry Tasker, a rather dull computer salesman who leads an unremarkable life with his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku). Helen is frustrated by the lack of excitement in her marriage, while Dana would rather be ripping off people’s wallets and hanging out with boys than going to school. What his family don’t know is that Harry’s job is simply a cover story, a sham concocted to hide his true occupation – secret agent!

On this particular occasion Harry is up against a terrorist faction known as Crimson Jihad, led by led by the extremely unstable Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik). The trail leads him to beautiful art dealer Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere), who seems to take more than a professional interest in Harry.

While Harry is off defending the world from terrorists and such, Helen is secretly meeting with Simon (Bill Paxton), a man she believes to be an international spy. In reality, Simon is nothing more than a used car salesman, and a sleazy one at that. Harry begins to suspect that something is not right at home, and uses all the resources at his disposal to confirm his suspicions about his wife’s infidelity. With the aid of his friend and colleague ‘Gib’ (Tom Arnold), Harry devises and elaborate scheme to try and put some sparkle back into his marriage.

Unfortunately, just as Harry prepares to put his plan into action, both he and Helen are kidnapped by Crimson Jihad. The terrorists have managed to obtain three nuclear warheads and are planning to detonate them in major American cities, unless their demands for the release of certain political prisoners are met.

All of the above adds up to a film with some outstanding action sequences, but is ultimately a little longwinded. The aforementioned action scenes are simply excellent, with some of the most impressive looking set pieces I’ve seen. Take one look at the horseback ride through the hotel, or the Harrier sequence near the end and you’ll know just what I mean. There a many other instances that get the pulse racing, but it isn’t all good news. The middle section of the film is basically a romantic comedy, in which Harry tries to uncover evidence of his wife’s infidelity. The problem is that it drags on for too long, and in my opinion Arnie really doesn’t have the acting talent for this type of role. People watch Schwarzenegger movies for the one-liners and the action, not for the romantic elements…

True Lies
Ultimately however, True Lies is a success, and as much as I may think that hiring Arnie for his acting ability makes as much sense as hiring Quentin Tarantino to direct a live action remake of Snow White, you really can’t fault the guy when it comes to films of this ilk. To put it simply, he’s a legend of the action genre.

Video
True Lies is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for 16:9 sets. The quality of the video is excellent, with stunning colour reproduction and strong blacks. The image is also very detailed, crisp and sharp throughout, with little or no evidence of artefacts. This is definitely one of the best transfers I’ve seen on any disc, from any region. What we have here is nothing short of a reference quality transfer, and this is reflected in the scores.

Audio
True Lies features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that is every bit as impressive as the video before it. With plenty of split-surround action and an abundance of explosions to keep your subwoofer busy, this is at times an incredibly active mix. During the quieter moments the ambient effects really draw you in to the film, while every line of the clichéd action dialogue is crystal clear. Overall this is a fantastic track, but not quite as impressive as the video. Also included on the disc is a Spanish Dolby Surround track.

Extras
When it comes to bonus material, True Lies is a letdown. It starts promisingly enough, with some nice animated menus, but the actual content is severely lacking. We get the original theatrical trailer… and that’s it. No commentary, no deleted scenes, not a lot of anything really. I appreciate that this is a back catalogue title, but for a film from two of Hollywood’s biggest names you would be within your rights to expect more. Overall this is a very disappointing showing.

True Lies
Overall
In spite of the lack of features, the fantastic audio and video quality helps to sell this disc. It really is reference quality. When you consider the fact that this region four edition of the film is uncut (the UK R2 disc is censored), the package starts to look even more attractive. True Lies isn’t Arnie’s best work, or Jim’s for that matter, but it is certainly an entertaining movie with enough action to keep fans of the genre happy. Recommended.


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