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Formosa Betrayed (DVD Review)

13 Jun, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

Prebook 6/15/10; Street 7/13/10
Screen Media
Box Office $0.2 million
$24.98 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for some violent content.
Stars James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson, John Heard, Leslie Hope.

Formosa Betrayed is inspired by actual events that should shock and disappoint. After the murder of prominent Taiwanese-American professor Henry Wen in 1983, FBI agent Jack Kelly (James Van Der Beek) is sent to Taiwan to track down Wen’s killers and bring them to justice in the United States.

With the help of an activist named Ming, Jake quickly uncovers layer after layer of cover-ups, shady deals, political uprisings, and the torture and murder of Taiwanese activists by the Taiwanese and Chinese governments, with some help of the American government.

Formosa Betrayed is an eye-opening historical drama that defies what most people commonly know about American relations with Taiwan, giving an informal, interesting history lesson. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller that Van Der Beek carries well with a compelling dramatic performance. The movie shifts back and forth in time, which seems like an unnecessary storytelling device that may have been used to maintain suspense. However, the story with its depth and unexpected twists would have been stronger if presented chronologically.

Interestingly, Will Tiao — who plays Ming, wrote the story and produced the film — had a decade-long career in international politics, a lot of which dealt with Asian relations.

Formosa Betrayed had a limited theatrical release and won awards at the two film festivals that screened it. According to reports, the indie film had a modest budget, which is surprising because it looks just as good as many big studio films.

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