Chan Is Missing. 1982. USA. Directed by Wayne Wang. With Wood Moy, Marc Hayashi. 35mm. 80 min.
Made for $20,000, Wayne Wang’s gentle noir struck a chord with audiences in 1982 not only for its charm and craft, but for the way it represented Asian Americans on screen. Gone are the laundry workers and butlers, replaced here by Wood Moy’s Jo, a taxi driver, and Steve, his nephew, played with twinkling confidence by Marc Hayashi. Chan, a middleman, has disappeared with Jo and Steve’s cash meant for a taxi license and a piece of the American dream. As in all good noirs, the journey’s the thing, and Wang follows his characters through San Francisco’s Chinatown as they hunt for Chan. Jo and Steve smoke cigarettes, debate politics, and talk to the usual suspects, and Wang smoothly folds in a cast of characters that speaks to the diversity of the Chinese American existence—and his talents as a storyteller.