What happens when Falun Gong, a life-energy practice that advocates meditation, spirituality, and coordinated movement as a means of self-betterment, amasses more followers than the Chinese Communist Party? The punishments range from academic expulsion to having one’s shirt cleaned and pressed while you’re still in it. Or worse. Director Leon Lee chronicles the fight for freedom in this earnest, truth-be-told eye-opener that brings shame to those of us who are first learning of this dark period in contemporary history by watching a movie. When painted in a corner, Lee and his co-screenwriters will occasionally resort to narrative trickery for the sake of dramatization. The day-saving American reporter (Sam Trammell) is ever in the right place at the right time, the sinister Secretary Yang (Tzu-Chiang Wang) could have stood more shading (a constant scowl and the patience to repair timepieces is not enough), and a seemingly incidental character who returns with a bang to point a finger of guilt at our hero (Ting Wu) makes for a clumsy, day-foiling coincidence. Poetic license be damned! This gripping history lesson will not only keep and hold your interest, you’ll leave feeling thankful to be an American. (2021) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.