Take Out (2004 film)

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Take Out
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Sean Baker
  • Shih-Ching Tsou
Written by
  • Sean Baker
  • Shih-Ching Tsou
  • Charles Jang
  • Jeng-Hua Yu
  • Wang-Thye Lee
  • Justin Wan
Edited bySean Baker
Distributed byCAVU Pictures
Release date
  • January 18, 2004 (2004-01-18) (Slamdance Film Festival)
  • June 6, 2008 (2008-06-06) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

Take Out is a 2004 independent film depicting a day-in-the-life of an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. The widely acclaimed film, written and directed by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou, has been nominated for the John Cassavetes award in the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards.[1][2]

Take Out was filmed in and near upper-Manhattan, New York, in the spring of 2003. It debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2004. In June 2008 it was given a limited release through CAVU Pictures. On September 1, 2009, Kino Entertainment released Take Out in the US on a Region 1 DVD.


Young and Ming outside the take-out

Take Out is a day-in-the-life of Ming Ding (Charles Jang), an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. After borrowing most of the money from friends and relatives, Ming realizes that the remainder must come from the day's delivery tips. In order to do so, he must make more than double his average daily income.

In a social-realist style, the camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, Take Out presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City.


Role Actor Description
Ming Ding Charles Jang A determined, reticent delivery man who is racing against time to come up with the late payment owed to snakehead smugglers. Ming came to the United States with the goal of creating a better future for his wife and child back in China.
Young Jeng-Hua Yu A fellow delivery man and Ming's closest friend at the take-out. Young is a happy-go-lucky slacker who provides comic relief to the mundane work day. He is the only one at the take-out who is aware of Ming's dilemma.
Big Sister Wang-Thye Lee The cashier and managerial figure of the take-out. Big Sister is a spunky woman with street smarts who juggles the orders and operations of the take-out.
Wei Justin Wan A cook at the take-out who has been in the country longer than most of the others. Wei's sense of seniority frequently lands him in minor disagreements of opinion and power with the other workers.

Production notes[edit]

Shooting inside the take-out

Take Out is a feature film shot on digital video due to both the cinema vérité style and a non-existent budget. Employing an ensemble cast of both professional and nonprofessional actors, and shooting without a full crew in an actual take-out restaurant during operating hours, gave filmmakers Tsou and Baker a liberating experience in which acting and story became the only concern. The "run and gun" method of filmmaking created a raw energy that the filmmakers feel they have captured on film.

Taking cues from the filmmaking of Ken Loach and the Dardenne brothers, Take Out puts a distinctly human face on the lives of people largely hidden from and ignored by the mainstream.


The film currently has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.56/10.[3]


  1. ^ "Superprime Signs Director Sean Baker". Superprime. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "Shih-Ching Tsou". Film Independent. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  3. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/take_out/ Take Out on Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]