'Formosa' tackles Taiwan political intrigue
Reviewed March 2010
Starring James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson
Directed by Adam Kane
Screen Media: 2009
Rated R (for some violent content)
To learn more about this film, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
A Reagan-era drama with plenty of political and global implications, "Formosa Betrayed" emerges as an intriguing if sometimes stilted cultural thriller.
The film stars James Van Der Beek as Jake Kelly, an FBI agent based in Chicago in 1983, assigned to investigate the murder of a Taiwanese-American professor. When the alleged killer escapes to Taiwan, Kelly follows, and while working with Taiwan officlals on the case, uncovers an unsettling truth that stretches back decades, even centuries, and uproots his understanding of American justice. Along the way, the complex maneuvering of three countries the United States, China and a Taiwan demanding freedom all come into play.
"Formosa Betrayed," its title referring to the nickname Portugese sailors gave Taiwan centuries ago, plays as mostly standard chase-and-shoot stuff, but is also filled with smaller pockets of real tension, intrigue and surprise. The film knows where it wants to go even if it can't always find its way, though ultimately it emerges as a relatively exciting political thriller.
Dan Bennett writes about film from Oceanside, Calif.