Chan is Missing (1982)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chan has their money.

This is a story about Jo (Wood Moy) and Steve (Marc Hayasi) two cab drivers who go throughout Chinatown looking for a man named Chan who took their money and then disappeared. If you have never been to San Francisco’s Chinatown district then this film gives you an illuminating look of what it is like. It shows you everything from its atmosphere, to the landscape, and even its people and their attitudes. At times it is almost like a documentary, which this probably should have been in the first place.

The main cab driver who we follow around in his search is fun in a sort of offbeat way. He is old, short, and very dopey looking. He goes about his investigation in a low key sort of way. After a while he starts to grow on you especially when he makes his wry observations.

Unfortunately these are the only two good things about this film, which on the whole is boring and heavy-handed. The search for Chan is merely an excuse by director Wayne Wang to show how difficult it is for Chinese to assimilate into American society and how they are always looked upon as ‘foreigners’, and the lack of opportunities. It is sort of like one of those movies you watched when you were in grade school where the flimsy plot was just an excuse to try to teach you something. This one works the same way where it seems more like a lecture than a movie.

Technically it is inadequate. The majority of the characters are non-actors who seem to be just mouthing the lines that they have memorized. There is also no action and a desperate need for some humor even the low-key kind could’ve helped the flow.

Certainly director Wang has gone on to do bigger, better, more sophisticated things. This film can best be viewed as an early student project, which it resembles in many ways.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: June 4, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 20Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Wayne Wang

Studio: New Yorker Films

Available: VHS, DVD

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