It’s not all that often that we get to see James Van Der Beek on the big screen, so today’s arrival in movie theaters of Formosa Betrayed is such a treat an a half for us old Dawson’s Creek fans.
The first part of the movie’s title, btw, is Portuguese for “beautiful,” as in “beautiful island,” which is how the Portuguese once described Taiwan, where some of the action takes place.
The last part of the title should be a clue as to what is the nature of the movie. Why yeah, it’s a thriller, but less of a whodunit and more of a whydonit.
Set in Chicago and Taiwan in the ’80s, Formosa Betrayed follows the investigation into the murder of Henry Wen (Joseph Foronda), a well-liked Taiwanese college professor in Chicago.
The Beek, in another of bad-boyish role he has taken since playing Mr. Leery (see TV’s Mercy for a recent example), plays the lead FBI agent on the case, Jake Kelly. Through his investigation, he unearths an alarming conspiracy that has been thriving within college campuses across America for decades.
Agent Kelly’s inquiries take him to Taiwan, where he realizes he’s not going to solving the crime so easily, or find Wen’s killers, who have fled to China.
With the help of the professor’s widow (Tonray Ho) and that of Ming, a Taiwanese activist (Will Tiao), he learns that the professor's murder was not a random act at all, but rather a desperate move by a government intent on keeping its shady activities under wraps.
Formosa Betrayed co-stars the delicious Wendy Crewson as Sandy Keane, an American-in-Taiwan diplomat who’s a bit of a cipher (what does she know? how? is she going to share that with Kelly?). Questions arise along the way that make the movie’s blood pump – if you can get past the clumsy beginning and grab hold of the narrative, you should enjoy it.
My Rating ***
Photo: Screen Media Films.