Authentic, suspenseful, funny, and alive with surprising detail, Shih-Ching Tsou and Sean Baker’s Take Out “takes no false step as a scrupulous and socially conscious slice of life” (Nathan Lee, The New York Times), revealing an unseen world of illegal Chinese immigrants at work in New York City.
A day in the life of Ming Ding (Charles Jang, in a masterfully unselfconscious performance) begins as a pair of hammer-wielding loan sharks come to the door of Ming’s squalid apartment. Their ultimatum, delivered in Mandarin, is as simple as it is virtually impossible to fulfill: “You give us $800 tonight, or your debt is doubled.” With the family he supports half a world away, Ming has a single rain-soaked shift at his job — anonymously and almost wordlessly delivering Chinese food on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — in which to pay off his thuggish creditors.
Deftly combining a “terrific cast” (The New Yorker) of professionals and non-actors with uncompromisingly ingenious DV photography that is “beautiful in unexpected ways under rough-and-ready conditions” (Variety), Take Out intelligently illuminates an immigrant underdog and his small community of harried co-workers with the same in-the-moment, pragmatic honesty with which Ming endures the constant deprivations of life on the American margin. “This,” raved the Village Voice, “is as exceptional as micro-budget cinema gets.”