Film Reviews


By • May 10th, 2008 •

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TAKE OUT is the story of a Chinese immigrant who is trying to make ends meet. The narrative revolves around him as he delivers to countless numbers of people and gets treated like soulless shell.

The movie uses a handheld camera for shooting most its scenes, if not all. This normally would create an amateur feel. But, in TAKE OUT it’s different; the handheld camera creates a documentary feel, making the story more captivating. Since the cast is made up of professional and non-professional actors, this documentary feel overlaps into the acting.

When I was watching TAKE OUT I seldom thought that it was a film. It made me feel like I had been offered an exclusive look into a Chinese restaurant’s work day and, more importantly, the professional life of its workers. It also reminded me, once again, how immigrants are trying to survive in the U.S. by working extremely hard, but in the end are not respected for it.

One of the best shots in the film comes in the beginning, when Ming Ding is pushed around by the loan sharks and hit on his back with a hammer. In that scene, a cockroach is shown struggling through the kitchen environment, a foreign terrain it is unaccustomed to living in. This creates a great analogy between Ming Ding and the cockroach. Ming Ding has left China, a place where he was born and raised, and has come to the U.S., a country that is very different culturally and socially.

The rest of the film is full of deliveries where Ming Ding encounters customers of every type, which portrays the population of NYC pretty well. He delivers to people who are nice, not nice, moody, racist etc. Most of the people who wanted deliveries seem not grateful to him for bringing them their food in a terrible rain-storm. Some don’t even tip.

Later in the film we see Ming Ding getting in a fight with his co-workers, since he is under stress and pain. Once the work-day is completed, the film seems to have a happy ending, but that changes when he gets robbed after he makes his last delivery. The robbers take all the tips he made that day, as well as his hopes of surviving the life of an immigrant.

Portrayed as a very proud and a quiet person, Ming Ding does not tell anyone that he needs money throughout the film, including after he is robbed. The only one who knows is the other delivery boy. But everyone in the restaurant can tell what was going on, and after he gets robbed the co worker he argued with earlier that day gives him the money he needs, saying “I have been there” which explains how hard it is to be an illegal immigrant.

Take Out opens on June 6th at Quad Cinemas in New York City.

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