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Chan Is Missing (1982)

 |  Drama, Mystery  |  4 June 1982 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 759 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 12 critic

Two cabbies search San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Their quest leads them on a humorous, if mundane, journey which illuminates the... See full summary »

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Title: Chan Is Missing (1982)

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Directors: Wayne Wang, Spencer Nakasako
Stars: Cheng Wan Kin, John Chan, Kwan-Min Cheng
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Wood Moy ...
Jo
Marc Hayashi ...
Steve
Laureen Chew ...
Amy
Peter Wang ...
Henry the Cook
Presco Tabios ...
Presco
Frankie Alarcon ...
Frankie
Judi Nihei ...
Lawer
Ellen Yeung ...
Mrs. Chan Hung
George Woo ...
George
Emily Woo Yamasaki ...
Chan's Daughter Jenny (as Emily Yamasaki)
Virginia Cerenio ...
Jenny's Friend
Roy Chan ...
Mr. Lee
Leong Pui Chee ...
Mr. Fong
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Storyline

Two cabbies search San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Their quest leads them on a humorous, if mundane, journey which illuminates the many problems experienced by Chinese-Americans trying to assimilate into contemporary American society. Written by Rick Ferncase <ferncase@chapman.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

4 June 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chan ist verschwunden  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1995. See more »

Quotes

Presco: You guys are looking for Mr. Chan-why don't you look in the puddle?
See more »

Connections

References Li bi gou (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Grant Avenue
(uncredited)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by Pat Suzuki at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Best San Francisco movie ever?
16 December 2004 | by (New York NY) – See all my reviews

I saw Chan Is Missing when it first came out, about four years after moving from San Francisco to New York. Maybe it was the perspective of a few years away, but this movie seemed to capture the essence of the city and its people better than anything else I'd ever seen (still does). It concentrates on one particular community - the Chinese - but that's fine, because so much of the city's soul is refracted through the settings, the faces, and the maybe above all the voices of the characters.

This isn't the tourists' San Francisco. The settings are humble and everyday: a taxi cab, the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, Richmond District row houses, little Chinatown apartments and small-business offices, the piers, a Philippine elder center. This is what the city looks and feels like day to day to the people who live there - even now, in the era of Silicon Gulch urban redevelopment. Unlike, say, Dirty Harry (in its own way an excellent San Francisco movie as well), everything is filmed at street level: We come to understand the characters' points of view from the perspective their surroundings give them, not from some fancy vertiginous shooting.

Wang apparently filmed in B&W because he didn't have the money to do otherwise, yet one of the strongest visual elements of the movie is the natural light he achieves. The often harsh, pervasive quality of the sunlight is one of my closest associations with San Francisco: It seems to expose everything, bringing the buildings, the hills, the other landmarks down in scale and, in a funny way, making the people you pass on the streets seem more individual and potentially closer to you than they might in another place. Wang's photography perfectly conveys this, and even helps the story along at points.

Wang captures the speech and conversational style of Chinese and other San Franciscans better than anyone ever has, I think. If there's such thing as a true San Francisco "accent," it's what you hear from the balding taxi medallion broker (I think) who appears talking on the phone in one scene (listen to the way he calls the person on the other end "ya dingaling!").

The story is poignant and, despite a few very small missteps, makes its points beautifully about the longings that pull at the hearts of people living in old immigrant communities - including the justified political and ethnic resentments, and little ironic amusements, that help to fuel them. All this is communicated delicately - perhaps why some respondents here think the film meanders. It doesn't - suffice it to say that the two cab drivers' quest for Chan becomes a quest for something more personal.

Chan Is Missing finishes up with a Chinatown travelogue sequence backed by a goofy novelty song from the 1930s (I guess) about San Francisco and all its crazy diversity. An American caricature, yes, but somehow not entirely off the mark either.


9 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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