Chan is Missing. Dir. Wayne Wang. 1982.
Perhaps better known for his higher-profile commercial films, Hong-Kong born and San Francisco-bred director Wayne Wang’s low-budget directorial debut, Chan is Missing, features a subtle, complex, and thoroughly funny meditation on immigration and identity. One of the first films to capture the everyday lives of Asian immigrants, Chan is Missing depicts two Chinese-Americans, Jo (Wood Moy), a middle-aged taxi driver, and his insolent nephew Steve (Mark Hayashi), as they attempt to search for their enigmatic friend Chan, who has disappeared with $4,000 of their money. Their quest takes them through San Francisco’s Chinatown, and leads them to encounters with a host of oddball characters who provide the two with vague and contradictory clues into Chan’s background and whereabouts that only further confounds them. Endearingly anticlimactic and earnest in tone, Chan is Missing is a quiet, yet seminal work in Asian American cinema.