“This mystery is appropriately Chinese: what’s not there seems to have just as much as meaning as what is there.”
Two taxi drivers — middle-aged Jo (Wood Moy) and young Steve (Marc Hayashi) — search San Francisco’s Chinatown for a fellow cabbie who has disappeared with their money.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Generation Gap
- Mysterious Disappearance
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, Chan is Missing — the “first film made by and starring Asian Americans” — is an “impressive, offbeat social satire” which “give[s] its people the voice they have been denied in American films.” The lead actors — Moy and Hayashi — are an amusing cross-generational duo, effectively representing two “types” of Chinese Americans while remaining unique individuals. (Why didn’t their careers go further?) While Jo and Steve’s search for Chan is a bit hard to follow at times, the broader point being made by writer/director Wayne Wang — that Chan is perceived as a different person by everyone who knew him — is a poignant one; it’s not often that the identity politics of minorities in America are so explicitly valorized in a feature film.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Wood Moy as Jo
- Marc Hayashi as Steve
- Jo and Steve reacting with bewilderment while listening to a linguist explain the cross-cultural intricacies of Chan’s court case
- A fascinating, documentary-like look at San Francisco’s Chinatown
Yes. This enjoyable, historically important movie — which was selected to be part of the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress — should be seen by all film fanatics.