Chan Is Missing


1h 20m 1982

Brief Synopsis

Set in San Francisco's Chinatown district, two Chinese taxi drivers, one middle-aged and set in his ways, the other youthful and hip, search for an older partner who's vanished with their funds.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
1982
Production Company
National Endowment For The Arts
Distribution Company
Mainline Entertainment; New Yorker Films; New Yorker Films
Location
San Francisco, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m

Synopsis

Set in San Francisco's Chinatown district, two Chinese taxi drivers, one middle-aged and set in his ways, the other youthful and hip, search for an older partner who's vanished with their funds.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
1982
Production Company
National Endowment For The Arts
Distribution Company
Mainline Entertainment; New Yorker Films; New Yorker Films
Location
San Francisco, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m

Articles

Chan is Missing/Dim Sum - Two Films by Wayne Wang on DVD - CHAN IS MISSING and DIM SUM


Director Wayne Wang made his feature film debut with the low-budget, low-key delight Chan is Missing, which would present the famed San Franciscan hot spot, China Town, in a way few people had seen it before: as a resident rather than a tourist. Chan is an enigmatic figure who had been arranging a deal for his friends Jo (Wood Moy) and Steve (Marc Hayashi), a pair of hard-working cab drivers. To do this, Jo and Steve were required to give Chan two-thousand dollars each, up front. However, after weeks have passed without word from their supposed benefactor, and Jo and Steve are beginning to wonder if Chan just might've made off with their funds.

Jo and Steve start their amateur sleuthing by asking around among Chan's acquaintances, such as Henry, a vociferous cook, and who thinks the world of Chan, and other friends and relatives of the vanished man, all of whom offer entirely different perspectives on who the man is—or was. They learn from one acquaintance that Chan may have been politically active, and from another that he may also have been involved in a notorious "flag waving" incident which ended in murder. But none of the information Jo and Steve come up with adds up: it's as if each of the people interviewed is talking about a different a person. Even their discussion with Chan's daughter Jenny is less than satisfying, with the girl unable to offer any information about where her father is other than that he is away on business. But she assures them they'll get their money back

All this complacency changes when Jo gets an anonymous phone call warning him to stop looking for Chan. Jo immediately believes that he has stumbled into something more than a simple disappearance, and that maybe Chan really was involved in the political murder: (though, at the same time, he still believes that as a matter of personal honor Chan will eventually return their money). Much younger, more cynical, and more American than Jo, Steve refuses to buy into it, insisting that Chan is just another huckster who got their money and ran with it, and that you can't rely on the old ways when Chinese-Americans are deeply assimilating into a different society. But they are thrown for yet another loop when they get a call from Jenny asking for a meeting. Expecting to get more of a runaround, Jo and Steve are astonished when the young woman returns their money, adding her father's apologies for not being able to carry off the deal for them.

Chan is Missing is a wonderful, subtle film that quietly makes points about the relationships between the characters and between the races, and about life in Chinatown. From a narrative standpoint, the story works in ways that are surprisingly astute. Through Jo's search for Chan, Wang gives us a poignant look at whether not it is truly possible to know anybody. And in the end we are left not knowing if Chan is actually missing, or perhaps has perhaps gone into hiding., and if the returning of the money to the cab drivers was was merely an expeditious way of making a potential prolem go away. The saddest message we're left with it the fate of Jo: when he started the quest he was just trying to find his friend, but with all the subsequent discoveries he made, with everyone giving different reports on his character, he found that he has lost his friend instead.

Though the film was shot in black and white by necessity, Chinatown has seldom been filmed with such a loving eye for detail as it is here. The director shows not only a deep affection for the area, but also for the characters who inhabit it.

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart was Wayne's second film, and became another art-house hit.Dim Sum focuses on the relationship between a 62 year old Chinese immigrant Mrs. Tam and her daughter Geraldine (real life mother and daughter Kim and Laureen Chew). Mrs. Tam's recent birthday was not one of her happiest, because when she was a child in China she was told by a fortune teller that she would die at the age of 62. So Mrs. Tam has decided to start preparing to die, including taking Poloroids of her jewelry so that her daughters can write their names on the ones they want. And she intends to take her long anticipated final visit to China to bid a final farewell to her homeland.

Another of the things she would like to do before she dies is to see her daughter married. Unfortunately, this is the last thing that Geraldine wants. Although she has been raised in America and in many ways she is very modern, and although she has a long-term relationship with a successful lawyer, she is a very traditional Chinese daughter, who is content to take care of her mother as long as it is necessary. Her determination to take care of her mother, and Mrs. Tam's insistence that her daughter should learn to be on her own causes increasing friction in their relationship, until Geraldine relents and moves in with a roommate. Of course, no sooner is Geraldine out of the house than Mrs. Tam suffers a cardiac episode and is rushed to the hospital.

Geraldine immediately moves back home and takes up with her daughterly dutys, both she and Mrs. Tam seem perfectly content again. Once Mrs. Tam has received an okay from her doctor, she completes her preparations for her final journey and takes off for China. While mom's away, Gerldine discusses her feeling with favorite Uncle Tam (veteran character actor Victor Wong, who as usual is worth his weight in gold). He know's that she is "best Chinese daughter," and that if staying with her mother is really what she feels she should do, she'll have to hold her ground: but that's difficult with so many other people to think of, particularly her fiance. But as if we are witness a Chinese fable come to life, Mrs. Tam arrives home with a revelation so surprisingly that it solves all of the problems that seemed so insurmountable.

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart is not an easy movie to describe: it's a tale told in whispers and quiet moments, rather than in linear dialogue. And it's told in looks and glances that often say much more than what's being said. As with Chan is Missing, Wang has filmed both the locations and the characters with a great deal of . The film includes another hilarious performance by Wang favorite Victor Wong, the well-known character actor.

The two discs from Koch Lorber offer eye-pleasing transfers. Chan is Missing was shot at 4:3 with low quality black and white stock, so that the image at times look grainy, but on the whole it's above par. The black level is absolute, and the white areas only bloom where Wang meant them to (he did a lot of location filming under harsh sunlight). Unfortunately, while the image for Dim Sum is presented at the theatrical aspect ratio of 1:85.1, it is non-anamorphic. Still, the colors are beautifully realized, with deep, rich tones, and the audio offers fine tone quality and strong bass.

For more information about Chan is Missing or Dim Sum, visit Koch Lorber Films.

by Fred Hunter
Chan Is Missing/dim Sum - Two Films By Wayne Wang On Dvd - Chan Is Missing And Dim Sum

Chan is Missing/Dim Sum - Two Films by Wayne Wang on DVD - CHAN IS MISSING and DIM SUM

Director Wayne Wang made his feature film debut with the low-budget, low-key delight Chan is Missing, which would present the famed San Franciscan hot spot, China Town, in a way few people had seen it before: as a resident rather than a tourist. Chan is an enigmatic figure who had been arranging a deal for his friends Jo (Wood Moy) and Steve (Marc Hayashi), a pair of hard-working cab drivers. To do this, Jo and Steve were required to give Chan two-thousand dollars each, up front. However, after weeks have passed without word from their supposed benefactor, and Jo and Steve are beginning to wonder if Chan just might've made off with their funds. Jo and Steve start their amateur sleuthing by asking around among Chan's acquaintances, such as Henry, a vociferous cook, and who thinks the world of Chan, and other friends and relatives of the vanished man, all of whom offer entirely different perspectives on who the man is—or was. They learn from one acquaintance that Chan may have been politically active, and from another that he may also have been involved in a notorious "flag waving" incident which ended in murder. But none of the information Jo and Steve come up with adds up: it's as if each of the people interviewed is talking about a different a person. Even their discussion with Chan's daughter Jenny is less than satisfying, with the girl unable to offer any information about where her father is other than that he is away on business. But she assures them they'll get their money back All this complacency changes when Jo gets an anonymous phone call warning him to stop looking for Chan. Jo immediately believes that he has stumbled into something more than a simple disappearance, and that maybe Chan really was involved in the political murder: (though, at the same time, he still believes that as a matter of personal honor Chan will eventually return their money). Much younger, more cynical, and more American than Jo, Steve refuses to buy into it, insisting that Chan is just another huckster who got their money and ran with it, and that you can't rely on the old ways when Chinese-Americans are deeply assimilating into a different society. But they are thrown for yet another loop when they get a call from Jenny asking for a meeting. Expecting to get more of a runaround, Jo and Steve are astonished when the young woman returns their money, adding her father's apologies for not being able to carry off the deal for them. Chan is Missing is a wonderful, subtle film that quietly makes points about the relationships between the characters and between the races, and about life in Chinatown. From a narrative standpoint, the story works in ways that are surprisingly astute. Through Jo's search for Chan, Wang gives us a poignant look at whether not it is truly possible to know anybody. And in the end we are left not knowing if Chan is actually missing, or perhaps has perhaps gone into hiding., and if the returning of the money to the cab drivers was was merely an expeditious way of making a potential prolem go away. The saddest message we're left with it the fate of Jo: when he started the quest he was just trying to find his friend, but with all the subsequent discoveries he made, with everyone giving different reports on his character, he found that he has lost his friend instead. Though the film was shot in black and white by necessity, Chinatown has seldom been filmed with such a loving eye for detail as it is here. The director shows not only a deep affection for the area, but also for the characters who inhabit it. Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart was Wayne's second film, and became another art-house hit.Dim Sum focuses on the relationship between a 62 year old Chinese immigrant Mrs. Tam and her daughter Geraldine (real life mother and daughter Kim and Laureen Chew). Mrs. Tam's recent birthday was not one of her happiest, because when she was a child in China she was told by a fortune teller that she would die at the age of 62. So Mrs. Tam has decided to start preparing to die, including taking Poloroids of her jewelry so that her daughters can write their names on the ones they want. And she intends to take her long anticipated final visit to China to bid a final farewell to her homeland. Another of the things she would like to do before she dies is to see her daughter married. Unfortunately, this is the last thing that Geraldine wants. Although she has been raised in America and in many ways she is very modern, and although she has a long-term relationship with a successful lawyer, she is a very traditional Chinese daughter, who is content to take care of her mother as long as it is necessary. Her determination to take care of her mother, and Mrs. Tam's insistence that her daughter should learn to be on her own causes increasing friction in their relationship, until Geraldine relents and moves in with a roommate. Of course, no sooner is Geraldine out of the house than Mrs. Tam suffers a cardiac episode and is rushed to the hospital. Geraldine immediately moves back home and takes up with her daughterly dutys, both she and Mrs. Tam seem perfectly content again. Once Mrs. Tam has received an okay from her doctor, she completes her preparations for her final journey and takes off for China. While mom's away, Gerldine discusses her feeling with favorite Uncle Tam (veteran character actor Victor Wong, who as usual is worth his weight in gold). He know's that she is "best Chinese daughter," and that if staying with her mother is really what she feels she should do, she'll have to hold her ground: but that's difficult with so many other people to think of, particularly her fiance. But as if we are witness a Chinese fable come to life, Mrs. Tam arrives home with a revelation so surprisingly that it solves all of the problems that seemed so insurmountable. Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart is not an easy movie to describe: it's a tale told in whispers and quiet moments, rather than in linear dialogue. And it's told in looks and glances that often say much more than what's being said. As with Chan is Missing, Wang has filmed both the locations and the characters with a great deal of . The film includes another hilarious performance by Wang favorite Victor Wong, the well-known character actor. The two discs from Koch Lorber offer eye-pleasing transfers. Chan is Missing was shot at 4:3 with low quality black and white stock, so that the image at times look grainy, but on the whole it's above par. The black level is absolute, and the white areas only bloom where Wang meant them to (he did a lot of location filming under harsh sunlight). Unfortunately, while the image for Dim Sum is presented at the theatrical aspect ratio of 1:85.1, it is non-anamorphic. Still, the colors are beautifully realized, with deep, rich tones, and the audio offers fine tone quality and strong bass. For more information about Chan is Missing or Dim Sum, visit Koch Lorber Films. by Fred Hunter

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States April 1982

Released in United States on Video Fall 1989

Released in United States Spring April 1982

Feature directorial debut for Hong Kong native Wayne Wang who earned both a BFA (painting) and MFA (film and TV) from the California College of Arts and Crafts.

Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Contemporary Cinema) March 16 - April 1, 1982.

Shown at Los Angeles Filmex March 1982.

Shown at New Directors/New Films series in New York City March 1982.

Shown at San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival March 2-9, 1995.

16mm

b&w

6875 feet

rtg BBFC 15

rtg MPAA NONE

Selected in 1995 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States on Video Fall 1989

Released in United States April 1982

Released in United States Spring April 1982