Intro and Discussion for Chan Is Missing

October 31, 2012 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

The movie Chan Is Missing follows Jo, a middle-age taxi driver, and his nephew Steve’s search through San Francisco’s Chinatown for the mysterious Chan Hung. As their search continues they realize that the more they find out about Chan’s life, the less they seem to really know. Chan Is Missing is comedic but also addresses very serious concerns: identity, assimilation, linguistics, and cross-cultural misunderstanding. Wayne Wang directed Chan is Missing in 1982. Wang grew up in Hong Kong; when he was 17 he moved to America, where he became interested in film. Chan is Missing, his second film, was done in black and white using the style of cinema verite to convey truth about Asian Americans living in San Francisco. Many of the characters were played by people with no previous acting experience, this explains the nonchalant, non-scripted vibe that makes Chan is Missing seem like “a day in the life” rather than a traditional detective film. The entire cast was Asian American, which again speaks to the real representation for which the film was aiming. It was less than 20,000 dollars to produce the film. Just to give that price context, The Long Good Friday a British thriller, which came out only two years before Chan is Missing, cost £930,000 to produce. Chan is missing is one of the first feature length narratives to successfully represent Asian Americans on screen. After Chan Is Missing, Wang moved on to make bigger budget films that were shown in theaters like Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985) and The Joy Luck Club (1993). Then Wang proceeded to make big studio films such as Maid in Manhattan (2002) and Last Holiday (2006) that did not deal with Asian American issues. While Wang is not a textbook version of the Asian American filmmaker, he also did not abandon this persona, and continued to move back and forth between big studio films and films dealing with Asian American issues.






Who do you think Chan Hung is?

            -He is nobody and anybody

            -Represents the San Francisco Chinatown community

            -Can be anything

            -“Too Chinese” aspect mixing with assimilation into American culture



Cross-cultural misunderstandings (the interview with the woman about the traffic accident)

            -What do you think of the scene?

            -What is happening in the scene is exactly what she is describing to them

            -Get the humor?

            -Class issue: Very academic in her speech vs. Jo and Steve two working class guys don’t know what she’s talking about 


By Izzy Michaelson and Naomi Moser

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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