Screen/Society--Cine-East Series--"Chan Is Missing"
CHAN IS MISSING (Wayne Wang, 1982, 80 min, USA, Cantonese and English with English subtitles, B&W, DVD) -- Cost less than $20,000 to produce, photographed in grainy black-and-white, with a cast composed entirely of Asian-American actors, CHAN IS MISSING is a matchless delight. The movie is about Jo (Wood Moy), a middle-age taxi driver with the face of an Oriental Job, and Jo's nephew Steve (Marc Hayashi). Jo and Steve, in an effort to get their own taxi medallion, have entrusted their savings of $4,000 to a fellow named Chan Hung, a wheeler-dealer from Taiwan who has apparently absconded with the loot. A very funny movie, CHAN IS MISSING is not a spoof of its characters or even of its so-called "mystery", which, like everything else in the film, is used to illustrate the film's quite serious concerns. These are identity, assimilation, linguistics, and what one hilariously earnest young woman, describing Chan's argument with the traffic cop, defines as "cultural misunderstandings."