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...
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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 <email@example.com>
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in November 1997. See more »
This mystery is appropriately Chinese: what's not there seems to have just as much meaning as what is there.
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This is the best depiction of cultural contact I have seen on film. The title points to several layers of meaning, some of which are missed by many viewers. Most obviously, this is a film about real Asian Americans, not the ersatz and offensive characters of the Charlie Chan films. That Chan is missing but not missed. At the same time, the film is a spoof of Charlie Chan films, with Jo the bumbling detective and Steve the number one son, in an outrageously profane update. Finally, the character in the film, Chan Hung, is missing, and his disappearance is symbolic of a passing that is to be mourned much more than the deservedly-forgotten Charlie Chan movies. Chan Hung is the original immigrant, who struggled to survive in his new country but could never shake his love of his original one. His missing image floats through the film like a lost soul, and adds poignance that helps to counterpoint the ribald comedy. Jo is the bridge, feeling Chan's loss, but fully rooted in America: an "ABC"--American Born Chinese. Steve is the impatient third generation, angry that the plight of the immigrants may overshadow the struggles that U.S.-born Asian Americans continue to face. The conclusion of the mystery is as inevitable as it is sad, but the spirit of the characters who inhabit this film is truly inspirational. One of a handful of films that define an essential part of the American experience.
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