Formosa Betrayed (2009) Poster

Formosa Betrayed (2009)

  • Rate: 5.8/10 total 752 votes 
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Date: 26 February 2010 (USA)
  • Runtime: USA:103 min
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Formosa Betrayed (2009)


Formosa Betrayed 2009tt1121786.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Formosa Betrayed (2009)
  • Rate: 5.8/10 total 752 votes 
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Date: 26 February 2010 (USA)
  • Runtime: USA:103 min
  • Filming Location: Bangkok, Thailand
  • Gross: $225,341(USA)(2 May 2010)
  • Director: Adam Kane
  • Stars: James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson and Will Tiao
  • Original Music By: Jeff Danna   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby

Writing Credits By:

  • Will Tiao (story) and
  • Katie Swain (story)
  • Charlie Stratton (screenplay) and
  • Yann Samuell (screenplay)
  • Brian Askew (screenplay) and
  • Nathaniel Goodman (screenplay)

Known Trivia

  • The production team originally intended to film the movie in Taiwan, where the story is set, but ultimately settled on Thailand thanks to their already existing film friendly infrastructure. The producers also had concerns about recreating politically charged moments in Taiwan’s history in public areas.
  • The Kaohsiung Protest scene is the largest in the movie, contained over 1,000 extras, and took nearly 3 full days to film. The 20 foot tall replica statue of Chiang Kai Shek was custom designed by the art department, and remains in storage in Thailand.
  • Actor/Producer Will Tiao held hundreds of fundraisers in the US, Canada, and Taiwan to raise the financing for the movie.
  • Ming’s Apartment was the final scene shot overseas, and came at the tail end of the crew’s last day, which ended up being a 27 hour day.
  • The Motel Scene featuring the shootout between Jake Kelly and James Lee was partly shot in Chicago in April 2008. It wasn’t until nearly a full 6 months later in October of 2008, in a vacant parking lot in Los Angeles, that the reverse shots, of James Lee shooting at Jake Kelly, were filmed, thus completing the scene.
  • James Van Der Beek was cast for the role of FBI Agent Jake Kelly just a few days before filming began.
  • Other actors considered for the role of FBI Agent Jake Kelly were Ethan Hawke, Matt Dillon, Ioan Gruffund, Scott Speedman, Jeremy Renner, and Ethan Embry.
  • When released on DVD on November 5, 2010, it was the number 1 selling DVD, and set records for one day and one-week sales in Taiwan.

Plot: In the early 1980s, an FBI Agent is assigned to investigate the murder of a respected professor. Through his investigation… See more » |  »

Story: In the early 1980s, an FBI Agent is assigned to investigate the murder of a respected professor. Through his investigation, he unearths a spider web of international secrets that has been thriving within college campuses across America for decades. His investigation takes him across the Pacific to the island nation of Taiwan, where with the help of the outspoken widow and an unlikely spy, he learns that the Professor's killing was not a random act, but a desperate move by a scandalous government intent on keeping its nefarious activities under wraps. Our detective soon finds himself on a collision course against the U.S. State Department, the Chinese Mafia, and the Nationalist Chinese Government – in a land where the truth is not what it seems and the only people he can trust, cannot be trusted at all. Inspired by actual events.Written by Anonymous  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • David Allen Cluck known as producer (as David Cluck)
  • Billy Higgins known as line producer
  • Evita Huang known as associate producer
  • Adam Kane known as producer
  • Jonathan Lee known as associate producer
  • Chris Lowenstein known as consulting producer
  • Paul Spurrier known as line producer: Thailand
  • Will Tiao known as producer
  • Jonna Walsh known as co-producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • James Van Der Beek known as Jake Kelly
  • Wendy Crewson known as Susan Kane
  • Will Tiao known as Ming
  • John Heard known as Tom Braxton
  • Tzi Ma known as Kuo
  • Thienchai Jayasvasti Jr. known as Captain Chen (as Tom Jay)
  • Chelcie Ross known as Daltry
  • Leslie Hope known as Lisa Gilbert
  • Kenneth Tsang known as General Tse
  • Adam Wang known as Lee
  • Mintita Wattanakul known as Maysing
  • Joseph Anthony Foronda known as Professor Henry Wen
  • Tonray Ho known as Mrs. Wen
  • Nirut Sirichanya known as Professor Huang
  • Jeff Albertson known as FBI Staffer
  • Sahajak Boonthanakit known as Army General
  • Henry Milton Chu known as Wu (as Henry Chu)
  • Jay Disney known as Professor at Protest
  • Alex Duong known as Wu
  • Peter F. Essig known as College Professor
  • Tim Grimm known as Dean Goodman
  • Naomi Heilmann known as Protester
  • Michelle Higgins known as Cocktail Server
  • Bob Kolbey known as College Professor
  • Andrew J. Lee known as Lee
  • Deborah Lynn known as FBI Secretary
  • John Marengo known as Businessman at Bar
  • Joseph Mazurk known as Undercover FBI Agent
  • Stephen Oyoung known as Interrogator
  • Peggy Roeder known as Coroner
  • Lisa Wolf known as Pallbearer
  • Tommy Bartlett known as Chicago FBI Office Agent (uncredited)
  • Tony Domino known as Faculty (uncredited)
  • J. Alec Holmes known as Photo Journalist (uncredited)
  • Sun Hong known as Military Guard (uncredited)
  • Don Kress known as Agent (uncredited)
  • Larry Kucharik known as Chicago Police Detective (uncredited)
  • Lawrence G. Lozano known as Airport Pedestrian (uncredited)
  • Bill Merker known as Faculty Member (uncredited)
  • John Rainone Jr. known as FBI Agent (uncredited)
  • Robert A. Young known as Police Officer (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Lun Yé Hodges known as hair stylist
  • Pamela Milone-McLaughlin known as department head hair stylist
  • Jamie Sue Weiss known as makeup department head

Art Department:

  • Terry Baughman known as construction coordinator
  • Treven Bedwell known as property master
  • Jason Breitzman known as graphic designer
  • Geoffrey Brown known as art department assistant: Los Angeles unit
  • Cong Chuenchulak known as painter
  • Hang Chuenchulak known as leadman
  • Toi Chuenchulak known as set dresser
  • Jeff Creath known as assistant property master
  • Ronald J. Cruz II known as set dresser
  • Reyna Diana known as art department intern
  • Reyna Diana known as prop intern
  • Brian DuPont known as property master
  • John Goetscius known as set dresser
  • Stephanie Graham known as art department coordinator
  • Ethan Gutt known as art department production assistant
  • Harry N. Haase known as lead scenic
  • Mol Hengmee known as painter
  • Steve Hull known as leadman
  • John Jonke known as on-set dresser
  • Elliot Lang known as illustrator
  • Tuyet van thi Mach known as storyboard artist
  • Mai Masosod known as signwriter
  • Soongserm Masosod known as signwriter
  • Sorayuk Mookleemas known as stand-by props
  • Michael V. Nichols known as leadman
  • Kathleen Oddo known as set dresser
  • Dennis Ogle known as set dresser
  • Prachya Pitapho known as set designer
  • Daeng Podbua known as set dresser
  • Wanchat Praingam known as stand-by props
  • Nut Sagrtikananda known as property master
  • Adri Siriwatt known as assistant to the production designer
  • Nay Somarporn known as assistant to production designer
  • Kwan Suwansoonthorn known as art department coordinator
  • Mook Thitithumrongkul known as art runner
  • Chet Tinmala known as carpenter
  • Nui Tinmala known as carpenter
  • Matthew Tufano known as set dresser
  • Merje Veski known as on-set dresser
  • Han Worapotpisut known as graphic artist




Production Companies:

  • Formosa Films
  • Living Films

Other Companies:

  • Fletcher Chicago  camera equipment provided by
  • American Roadshow Motion Picture And Television Catering  catering
  • Atmosphere Casting of Chicago  extras casting
  • BridgeStreet Worldwide  production housing
  • Dolby Laboratories  sound mix
  • Reel Security  Production Security
  • Soundelux  post-production sound services


  • Screen Media Films (2010) (worldwide) (theatrical)
  • Captive Entertainment (2010) (worldwide) (video)
  • Control Entertainment (2010) (UK) (TV)
  • Eagle Films (2010) (Saudi Arabia) (all media)
  • Global TV (2010) (Indonesia) (TV)
  • Ledafilms (2010) (Mexico) (all media)
  • NBC Universal Cable Entertainment (2010) (Russia) (TV)
  • Screen Media Ventures
  • The Movie Network (2010) (Australia) (TV)
  • Yes-DBD Satellite Services (2010) (Israel) (TV)



Other Stuff

Visual Effects by:
  • Changsoo Eun known as visual effects artist
  • Jon Howard known as visual effects producer
  • Tom Kendall known as visual effects producer
  • David Neuberger known as lead visual effects artist
  • Leon Nowlin known as compositor
  • Doug Spilatro known as visual effects
  • Alfredo Tognetti known as digital compositor

Release Date:

  • USA 24 July 2009 (New York Asian American International Film Festival)
  • Canada August 2009 (Montréal Film Festival)
  • USA 26 September 2009 (San Diego Film Festival)
  • USA 3 October 2009 (DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival)
  • USA 10 October 2009 (Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival)
  • Brazil 23 October 2009 (São Paulo International Film Festival)
  • USA 24 October 2009 (Hollywood Film Festival)
  • USA 15 November 2009 (St. Louis International Film Festival)
  • USA 26 February 2010
  • Taiwan 6 August 2010 (Taipei)
  • USA 9 September 2010 (TV premiere)
  • UK 2 November 2010 (limited)

MPAA: Rated R for some violent content



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , .


  1. Sara L from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    Saw this film at the Montreal Film Festival. I think it's one of thebest political thrillers I've seen in many years. Did not know muchabout the history of Taiwan, but the film brought me back to the early80s with it's Cold War references. The cinematography was excellent andyou felt the film was epic in scope.

    Was particularly impressed by the performances. James Van Der Beekmakes a starring turn as FBI Agent Jake Kelly. He does a great jobcarrying the film. Wendy Crewson and John Heard remind me of manybureaucrats I've met over the years. Will Tiao gives a heartbreakingperformance as Ming, the waiter/dissident. What happens to hischaracter is so devastating it made me cry. Reminds me of Haing Ngor'sperformance in "The Killing Fields." The rest of the supporting cast isoutstanding.

    In fact, this movie reminded me a lot of "The Killing Fields" which Ithink this movie is for Taiwan as that movie was for Cambodia.Definitely a must see film if you love political thrillers.

  2. katds1028
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    I saw this film at the St. Louis International Film Festival and couldnot have been more impressed. I left the theater with countlessquestions and consequently could not stop talking about US-Taiwanrelations for weeks. I am sure this is what the filmmakers intended.

    I find it shocking that I do not know a single person from mygeneration (even among student peers who claim to be more passionateabout foreign affairs than the average American) who has even heard ofthe name "Formosa"—not to mention that China currently has hundreds ofmissiles pointed at the island from its side of the Taiwan Strait, orthat the U.S. has promised to unconditionally defend Taiwan in anysituation of armed attack. I therefore feel certain the majority ofAmericans will relate perfectly to James Van Der Beek's character,Agent Kelly, who also knows absolutely nothing about the subjectmatter.

    Agent Kelly receives a brutal reality check in Taipei, and so willAmerican audiences when they see this film. I am sure my peers willleave the theater just as eager to ask questions and to learn moreabout Taiwan as I was. The filmmakers do not seek to teach a perfecthistory lesson through documentary but rather to tell a dramatic storythat will catch Americans' attention, inspire dialogue, and encouragethem to better educate themselves on this important issue. In thisregard, James Van Der Beek, Will Tiao and Wendy Crewson's performancesare all highly effective. The nonlinear narrative furthermore forcesaudiences to more actively engage themselves with the film andaccordingly with the larger issues presented. Overall, I would call"Formosa Betrayed" a huge success.

  3. Malcolm Smith from Canada
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    I didn't know what to expect with this film. Murder-mysteries are notgenerally my thing, but this one pulled it off with a truly insightfullook into Taiwan in the early 1980s. Objective viewers of this moviewill appreciate its fresh perspective on a sometimes tired Cold Wartheme.

    Rather than presenting a documentary explaining the compromisingcomplexities of relations between the US and its less-than-democraticallies in Taiwan in their fight against the "Reds", Formosa Betrayedhooks the viewer with dramatic events that keep us waiting to peel awaythe layers of characters we see to figure out what's going on. In theprocess, we learn of their individual hardships, heartaches, anddisillusionment; as well as their hope, courage, and betrayal. Whilethe limited depth of some characters may leave viewers wanting more,the basic story keeps us captivated.

    Formosa Betrayed does a good job of piecing together scenes in amodified chronology of events to provide an enticing but very smoothflow. Attention to details like uniforms, posters, architecture, andnature provides scenery that keeps us transported in the appropriatespace in time. Combined with these elements is an excellent soundtrackthat completes a well-done film.

    While the story's plot – like its characters or the actors that playedthem – could have been sharpened to provide more astute answers to themany questions that are raised, it makes me think there is room toexplore similar themes in the future.

  4. ilikegreatmovies from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    I managed to see Formosa Betrayed at a film festival and was reallyblown away. Political suspense films rarely grip you this much whilestill holding onto their intelligence. Wherever you are you must try toget to a theater to see this or anticipate the DVD release because itis not one to miss. Many political thrillers get bogged down intechnicalities or are just idiotic in their execution, but FormosaBetrayed hits every right note. I was skeptical too when I saw JamesVan Der Beek was the star, but he truly rises to the occasion. WillTiao also amazed me despite the fact that he is essentially unknown.Formosa Betrayed takes you through a whirlwind of action, suspense, andthe fight for justice. Get out to the theaters on February 26th to seeit; you won't regret it!

  5. AlexFURD from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    Hey Crapone! You should see the movie for yourself instead of makingthings out from the internet! Obviously you haven't read FormosaBetrayed book either.

    Uganda Genocide, Armenian Genocide, Tibetan Genocide, Darfur Genocide,Muslim Uyghur Turks Genocide… The truth will always prevail. Whenpeople learn to admit the truth, then we can all forgive and move on.

    Movies have a way of teaching us the truth in people and this movieshould be recognized for it's excellence in story, acting, filming andfor showing the truth.

    Thank you for putting your money, time and effort in making this film!

    Peace to all : ) … even for all you haters out there!

  6. FilmRap from Los Angeles
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    An FBI agent in the 1980s is following the clues of a murder of amid-western university professor in search of the killers. If youdidn't know anything about the history of Taiwan alias Formosa, youwould still no doubt find this a very riveting, suspenseful, excitingthriller. However, if you know the history of this embattled country oras you may be able to figure it out from the unfolding story, theintrigue becomes even more meaningful. You may remember that littleisland off the coast of mainland China was the refuge of ChiangKai-shek and his followers after the communists took over the mainlandof China. It became a very strategic location as the United States madea commitment politically, financially and militarily to protect it fromthe Communists. What you may not have appreciated is that thisgovernment was corrupt and oppressed its people in the worst wayspossible in order to keep itself in power. His son continued themartial law after Kai-shek's death in 1975. It was not until a timeframe after this movie that Taiwan became a true thriving democracy.Will Tiamo, a co-star of the film was also one the creative forcesbehind the movie as one of the writers and the person most responsiblefor raising enough money to make the film before it was even written orcast. He wanted to tell the story of his parent's generation and theoppressive environment which existed in the land of their birth. FBIagent Jake Kelly played by James Van Der Beek encounters deception,murder, and torture. He also realizes that his own government, forpolitical reasons, is not keen on exposing these terrible things. Thisall adds up to a top rate adventure story with conflict and a moraldilemma of the main character. The screenplay was based on various trueevents and was skillfully directed by Adam Kane. Although the movie hasjust received a distribution deal with a release date at the end ofFebruary, 2010, we suspect that it may not make it to your localtheater or hang around there very long. So if you are at all inclinedto see an exciting history lesson, be sure to look for it or put it onyour Netflix queue.

  7. leiser18 from San Jose, CA
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    When I saw a small advertising in my local paper for this movie, I hadno idea what it was about. I thought it might be a documentary onFormosa before it became Taiwan. How wrong I was! I was totally blownaway by its contents, the actors, and the cinematography. I had littleknowledge of Taiwan's history prior to seeing this film. It was a realeye opener. I also didn't recognize most of the actors, except for JohnHeard. James Van Der Beek did an excellent job as the FBI agent JakeKelly. I am really surprised that the film was shown in San Jose (CA)at all because it seems most viewers have seen 'Formosa Betrayed' atfilm festivals. This movie should get a wider distribution since, in myopinion, it is very important to let everyone know what happened. Anabsolute MUST-SEE!

  8. SacTai-Am from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    I saw "Formosa Betrayed" opening weekend in Berkeley, CA on 2/28/2010.There were many Taiwanese-Americans in the audience, some 60-75ish.During one point in the film where the story of the 2-28 incident istold to the main character, you could hear sniffling, coughing andpeople blowing their noses. This was an emotional moment for me and formany in the audience. An entire generation of Taiwanese was murdered,brutalized, and silenced. Those who attempt to write this movie off asmere profit-motivated propaganda are no different than those who woulddeny that the Holocaust ever happened. Don't be fooled. This movie isimportant just as it is entertaining.

    If you enjoy political thrillers, you will love this film. Thenon-linear narrative is excellent, and the story telling superb. Theuse of actual historical photos of the descent of Chiang Kai-Shek'sarmy on Taiwan, as well as photos of the brutality surrounding 2-28,and Nixon's meeting with Mao are powerfully chilling.

    James Van Der Beek's performance as FBI Agent will blow you away. Inall honesty, Will Tiao's acting could have been better, but give himcredit for the monumental task he accomplished in raising over $6million USD in private investor funds to get this independent filmmade. It was obviously a labor of love, and this fact shines through inevery moment of the final product, from the opening image of asatellite map of Taiwan to the the closing montage. For movie-goers whoprefer to learn something intellectually challenging through athought-provoking and entertaining film, please go see this movie.

  9. clchou-674-328189 from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    To the reviewers who say that this film is propaganda – films are*meant* to tell stories from a particular point of view. As aTaiwanese-American, I am so proud and so happy to see a film thatpromotes Taiwanese independence and discusses the terrible repressionthat ordinary Taiwanese suffered under KMT rule. Kudos to the cast andcrew for being brave and talented enough to put together a film thatobviously has some 228/martial law deniers riled up.

    Why shouldn't movies like this be made? Because they offend yourdelicate sensibilities? Because the Taiwanese government should neverbe criticized? Because the Chiang government didn't impose martial law,torture political dissidents, and try to suppress pro-democracy andpro-independence movements? Oh, wait – it *did*.

    Go see this film, and then research the events of 228 and KMT rule foryourself. And before you criticize Will Tiao for "exploiting" Taiwanesehistory, go talk to some of the thousands of Taiwanese whose familieswere harassed, jailed, and tortured because they wanted what everyperson deserves – freedom, self-determination, and independence.

  10. Bobby W from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 12:56 pm

    1) Kaohsiung Incident (1979) – A demonstration led by Formosa Magazinestaff resulted in the Martial Law arrest of dozens of dissidents.

    2) Lin Family Massacre (1980) – A grim murder of the 7 years old twingirls and their 70 years old grandma in their house then under 24-hoursurveillance by the Garrison Command (Taiwan secret police). The daybefore her murder, the grandma had managed to reach out theinternational human right organizations about the brutal treatmentreceived by her son in jail. Her son Lin Yi-Hsiung was among theKaohsiung Incident dissidents arrested.

    3) The Murder of Chen Wen-Chen (1981) – Carnegie Mellon Universityprofessor Chen Wen-Chen, while visiting Taiwan, was interrogated by theGarrison Command agents two days in a roll. He never returned home. Dr.Chen had been an active Taiwan independence advocate.

    4) The Assassination of Henry Liu (1984) – California resident andJournalist Henry Liu was killed in his garage by mafia killers sentoverseas by the Taiwan Garrison Command (the secret police head waslater sentenced to life by Taiwan authority). Liu had just released abook about the reigning president Chiang Jing-Guo, son and successor ofChiang Kai-Shek.

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