“It’s not like it’s a hundred-dollar bill. It’s just a fucking person.”
Jamie Chung stars as Hyun Jae, a young Korean-American girl about to graduate from high school who is kidnapped one night and forced into prostitution by a human trafficking ring. The innocent Hyun Jae, bright-eyed and still wearing braces, is later re-named Eden by one of her captors.
After being smuggled into Las Vegas, Hyun Jae slowly realizes that she’s been brought into a comprehensive underground criminal organization with various networks as far away as Dubai. The clever Hyun Jae, however, never loses hope and manages to gain enough power and influence to eventually manipulate her way out.
Chung delivers a great performance, showing she’s come a long way from her stint on MTV’s The Real World, and Hyun Jae’s story of survival and escape is gripping from start to finish.
Matt O’Leary also stars as a drug-addicted, easily provoked enforcer for the human trafficking ring. His character and Hyun Jae form a somewhat complicated relationship, showing how Hyun Jae has been psychologically – as well as physically and mentally – altered by her experiences as a captive.
The movie isn’t overly sexualized, which I appreciated, especially given the subject matter. Other directors and screenwriters might have taken this movie in a different direction, bordering on the obscene and exploitative. Instead, the filmmakers do a good job showing us what’s going on without excessive, unnecessary scenes of torture and overt sexual violence.
“Eden” is inspired by the true story of Chong Kim, who was held by human traffickers from 1995 to 1997. You can read an article about Kim’s involvement with the movie here.
- Starring: Jamie Chung, Beau Bridges, Matt O’Leary
- Directed by: Megan Griffiths
- Running Time: 73 minutes
- Genre: Drama
- Warning for: Sexual violence, drug use, language