Chan Is Missing

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Chan Is Missing
Directed by Wayne Wang
Produced by Wayne Wang
Written by Wayne Wang
Isaac Cronin
Starring Wood Moy
Marc Hayashi
Music by Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo
Cinematography Michael Chin
Edited by Wayne Wang
Distributed by New Yorker Films
Release dates
  • April 24, 1982 (1982-04-24)
Running time 80 minutes
Language English/Cantonese
Budget $22,000[1]
The film's director and producer, Wayne Wang

Chan Is Missing is a 1982 film directed by Wayne Wang, which tells the story of two taxi drivers searching the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown for the man who ran off with their money. It stars Wood Moy, Marc Hayashi and Laureen Chew.[2]

The movie was written by Isaac Cronin and Wayne Wang, directed by Wang and dedicated to Wong Cheen (or Wong Ch'ien or Hwang Qian). It is one of the first major American film productions in which Chinese Americans are portrayed in a realistic fashion, using many non-actors, in contrast with other films in which Chinese and Chinese Americans are portrayed in predictable and limited roles based on stereotypes. The movie is considered a seminal work of Asian American Cinema.[3] The song playing at the beginning of the movie is by Sam Hui. Its Mandarin Chinese name is Jia Jia Re Chao.


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 living at the margins of contemporary American society.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Chan is Missing was met with critical acclaim. The film scored a perfect rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 10 reviews.[4]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars and wrote that the film is "whimsical treasure of a film that gives us a real feeling for the people of San Francisco's Chinatown" and it "has already become something of a legend because of the way it was filmed" that it demonstrates a "warm, low-key, affectionate and funny look at some real Chinese-Americans" and went to say "almost without realizing it, we are taken beyond the plot into the everyday lives of these people."[5]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said in his review that "Chan Is Missing is not only an appreciation of a way of life that few of us know anything about; it's a revelation of a marvelous, completely secure new talent."[6]

Time Out magazine wrote of the film saying it's, "A raunchy, sprawling and completely unpredictable panorama of the Chinese-American experience, which opens with Hong Kong pop star Sam Hui's Cantonese version of 'Rock Around the Clock' on the sound-track (he has turned it into a kind of inflation blues, lamenting the rising cost of rice). The plot, such as it is, kicks off with the disappearance of one Chan Hung; the problem is that he had $4,000 in his pocket, belonging to Jo and Steve, two Chinese cab-drivers. Their search for Chan takes them to the heart of the fortune cookie: the tensions between Chinese and American identity (especially when there's a generation gap, as there is between Jo and Steve), the chasm between ABCs (American-Born Chinese) and FOBs (Fresh Off the Boats), the clashes between PRC patriots and renegade Taiwan loyalists... It is sometimes wildly comic, sometimes melancholy, sometimes suspenseful and often strangely touching. The missing Chan - almost certainly a descendant of Charlie Chan, but also a cypher for 'CHinese-americAN' - never turns up, although the missing money does. But the search is the thing, and it goes round all the Chinatown corners you never dared explore for yourself."[7]

Awards and recognitions[edit]


  1. ^ Wayne Wang -- He Made The Year's Unlikeliest Hit: Wayne Wang By TONY CHIU. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 May 1982: D17.
  2. ^ a b c Canby, Vincent (April 24, 1982). "MOVIE REVIEW:Chan Is Missing (1982)". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Images – Asian America Through the Lens". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  4. ^ "Chan is Missing". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Chan is Missing". Roger Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  6. ^ [1] Film review. Last accessed: March 25, 2014.
  7. ^ "Chan is Missing". Time Out London. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Chan Is Missing: A Film By Wayne Wang, With Introduction and Screen Notes by Diane Mei Lin Mark (Honolulu: Bamboo Ridge Press, 1984), ISBN 0-910043-06-X