Actor/co-screenwriter/producer Will Tiao's heartfelt agitprop history-lesson about Taiwan is a tightly wound thriller that takes no prisoners. James Van Der Beek is outstanding as Chicago FBI agent Jake Kelly sent to the great Asian island, named "Formosa" ("Beautiful Island") by the Portuguese, to investigate the murder of a well-respected American college professor born there. Jake's American diplomatic liaison, Susan Kane (Wendy Crewson), puts on the appearance of assisting him in his investigation, but Jake soon realizes that she is in bed with the oppressive Taiwanese government and with the Reagan-era collaboration with Nicaraguan contras. Hot on the trail of his suspect in the murder case, Jake is enabled by Taiwanese native Ming (well played by Will Tiao) whose political ideals support the film's complex message about Taiwan's struggle for independent democracy against the combined antagonism of the Chinese Government, its Mafia, a corrupt Taiwan Government, and the United States. Adventurous audiences will find "Formosa Betrayed" to be a fascinating suspense film deeply-rooted in Taiwan's turbulent history.
Rated R. 86 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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