Neither China nor the United States recognizes Formosa (better known as Taiwan) as a sovereign nation, a knotty issue that gets hammered over our heads in this otherwise unpretentious political thriller. After a Taiwanese-American professor and democracy advocate is murdered in early-’80s Chicago, earnest FBI agent Jake Kelly (Van Der Beek) is assigned to follow the killers to Taipei. He’s only allowed to observe and report on the local investigation; overstepping his jurisdiction anyway—hey, he’s an idealistic hero!—Kelly becomes entangled in a conspiracy that links the baddies to Taiwanese law enforcers, and the Chinese government. Come to think of it, even his American attach (Crewson) seems a bit duplicitous.
Allegedly inspired by true events and coconceived by actor Will Tiao (unconvincing in a way-too-meaty role), director Adam Kane’s modestly budgeted production adheres to a common-sense approach that emphasizes exposition over explosions. But all the heartfelt references to the 228 Massacre and the White Terror don’t make this any more thrilling than a Wikipedia entry. The dialogue is blandly speechified and the film’s pro-Taiwan agenda seems to have taken precedence over our enjoyment: No, please, cut away to another photo of Nixon shaking Mao’s hand.—Aaron Hillis
Watch the trailer