Take Out

"Very Good"

Take Out Review


Shot in 2004 but making it to the big screen a long four years later, Take Out was worth the wait. This urgent little drama, shot on a shoestring with a frantic handheld digital video camera, is a slice of real life that feels painfully real, transforming a lowly illegal immigrant Chinese restaurant deliveryman into a compelling protagonist.

Ming Ding's (Charles Jang) day starts badly when he's rousted from his New York City hovel by a couple of loan shark enforcers who want to know where their $1,800 payment is. Ming has borrowed the money in order to clear the debt he owes to the smuggler who brought him to America, but at 30 percent, this loan is really hurting. Ming comes up with $1,000, but after a swift hammer blow to his back, the thugs tell him he has just one day to come up with the rest of the money. So after borrowing $500 from a friend, it's off to work he goes with $300 on his mind.

The crazy busy Chinese take out joint where Ming works is lorded over by the hilarious Big Sister (Wang-Thye Lee), a fast-talking spitfire who can handle a dozen customers and a dozen phone orders all at the same time. She's seen it all, and nothing phases her. Ming's delivery buddy Young (Jeng-Hua Yu) is a comic philosopher, always promising that "things will work out." Luckily he's able to loan Ming $150, but in order to make the rest of the cash, Ming will have to take every delivery all day long. And it's raining. Hard.

We race alongside Ming up and down streets and staircases as he encounters a motley cross-section of hungry New Yorkers hiding behind their doors (all of them are non-actors). A dollar tip here, a dollar tip there, how will it ever add up? Young encourages Ming to smile and say "thank you very much," but Ming is having none of it. "Why should I smile when I'm in a bad mood?" he asks. Good question.

For a film about Chinese take out, Take Out becomes intensely suspenseful. The hours are ticking by. Will Ming make it? His bike gets a flat. Rats! A customer gets the wrong order and demands it be replaced. Rats! Hurry, Ming, hurry!

Back at the restaurant the woks are sizzling, the customers are pouring in, and Big Sister is chattering away in two languages, dealing with a parade of crazies who try to give her a hard time. Day becomes night, and we still don't know how all it's all going to end.

In a nearly silent role, Charles Jung is able to make Ming totally sympathetic, and the rest of the cast, almost all of whom, including Big Sister, are non-actors, are totally watchable. It's hard not to be moved by the relatively jolly attitude all these long-suffering workers are able to maintain despite being poor, separated from their families, and forced to work grueling shifts. While directors Sean Baker and Shih-Chin Tsou go way overboard with the shakiness of their camera (it's worse than the Bourne trilogy and can be painful to watch at times), the look of the film does mirror the chaos of Ming's existence.

Watch Take Out, and you'll tip big the next time you order in.



Take Out

Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 18th January 2004

Distributed by: Cavu Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 24

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Shih-Chin Tsou

Producer: , Shih-Chin Tsou

Also starring:

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