True Lies: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

True Lies is another James Cameron film that collectors have been clamoring to have on a newer format for many years.  This is a non-stop, funny, thrilling film and is the kind of movie that home theater enthusiasts love because it’s an audio and visual dream. This was a demo videotape for places like Circuit City and The Good Guys way back in the 90’s. How does this classic hold up in 4K? Read on below and find out my thoughts. Don’t forget to click the artwork at the end for a paid link to order your own copy!


Secret agent Harry Tasker is a top spy in the ultra-secret Omega Sector—although to his wife Helen, he’s just a dull computer salesman. But while Harry’s been busy saving the world, Helen’s been gathering secrets of her own. When their two livesunexpectedly collide, Harry and Helen find themselves in the clutches of international terrorists, fighting to save not only their marriage, but also the world.

No need for my critical thoughts here.  This movie has been around for a surprising 30 years.  Funny, romantic, exciting, silly… I have been watching this since I was 8.  For some reason I have many memories with James Cameron films. T2 was the first R-rated film I ever saw at age 5. The original Terminator terrified me even after seeing the first. If you’ve seen my review already, you know I have vivid stories about The Abyss. Titanic is the first epic movie I saw in a theater, watching my mother cry as Jack sank into the deep.  And what about True Lies you say?  True Lies was the first movie we watched on our big screen tube TV. The 40-inch Mistubishi monster was bought and along with it a copy of True Lies! My parents had rented it from Blockbuster for when we went to bed and they had alone time, but this was my first watch at age 8. Maybe I was a savvy kid, but I got the jokes. I understood the whole plot, even the silliest one with the cheesy car salesman trying to move in on Jamie Lee Curtis’s Helen. I guess I’ll pat my back on that one.

This was also of course an awakening for me on recognizing sexuality. I knew at age 8 I was gay, but I also knew that watching Helen “dance sexy” for her husband was witnessing a person finding her freedom in her sexuality and confidence. I will say that this scene is iconic for a few reasons. One, it’s hysterical. Two, it’s sexy. Three, it has 2 great songs in Sade’s Never Thought I’d See The Day and John Hiatt’s Alone In The Dark… As you can see, gay or not, the scene influenced my thinking.  There is also something incredible about the balance in the film. There is a near constant barrage of action, but also incredible comedic moments. From scolding horses to henchmen fearing their lives over dead camcorder batteries, there are all these moments big and small for laughter.  I never don’t laugh during the film, and I’ve seen it dozens of times.

In the documentary that accompanies this new edition of True Lies, James Cameron says this film was one of the scariest he’d ever made to that point.  After the technical achievements in The Abyss and T2, not to mention the behind-the-scenes issues on The Abyss, to hear of this incredible filmmaker being intimidated making a comedy is kind of a trip.  To me, Cameron nailed it.  I have yet to see an action film in my humble opinion that can hold a candle to this one in terms of balancing the many genres encapsulated within the 2 hour and 20-minute runtime, and that’s a high compliment.


Stills are for promotional use only and are not screenshots from the 4K Blu-ray

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

HDR: Dolby Vision

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: True Lies has always had a specific look to it.  Moments drift in and out of focus as the action ignites and things move quickly. Normal, right? But – With this new Dolby Vision 4K transfer, it is apparent that measures have been taken to clear the picture up. And not always in a good way. Some shots look blurry and waxy. Others look stunning and sharp.  It depends on the scene or the lighting.  I can’t say it’s going to disappoint everyone, but I cringed a bit in my viewing.

Depth:  Sometimes things look wonderful, and other times something is amiss. Whereas the other discs in this James Cameron trio releasing together have been cleaned up with care and respect, True Lies did not receive the same love it seems. Depth is screaming for more love here.

Color Reproduction: Colors for the film look wonderful despite the strange DNR moments. Black levels are at times inconsistent also, with blacks on clothing appearing more grey than black, leaving an issue with contrast at some moments.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones vary just like the sharpness and depth, sad to say.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean and sometimes a little too clean.


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, French Dolby DTS-HD HR 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Dolby Atmos mix for True Lies is better than the visual side of things. Even on VHS this film sounded fantastic. The mix is given more space to breathe with the added atmospheric touches, but nothing has been amped up to give things an artificial sound.

Height: From above, jets, gunshots, cars, helicopters, out of control limos and more fill the room.

Low-Frequency Extension: Music, explosions, crashes, and jet engines punish the sub and your floorboards!

Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds continue the spacing and room to breathe for the audio. Ambience and louder sound effects come together in the rears for your listening pleasure.

Dialogue Reproduction: Perfect.


Extras for True Lies are not as abundant as any of the James Cameron 4K UHD Blu-ray releases, but just like The Abyss we get a fantastic multi-years in the making documentary called Fear Is Not An Option: A Look Back At True Lies (HD, 43:27), that makes any complaint about lack of special features go to rest. This is a great feature and one with re-watchability! Other features are the Trailer, Original Script, Storyboards, Blueprints, Location and Unit Photography and a Poster Gallery.


True Lies is a rare film now. Nobody makes action films with more practical effects, or has comedy, romance, and thrills in abundance like this. Every actor gives a great performance, and the script is tight considering the criticism back in the day of the film going off the rails.  I love this film, and even with some of my own reservations, the new edition of True Lies on 4K UHD Blu-ray is truly the best the film has looked and sounded.

  1. No Comments