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Take Out [Import]

Charles Jang , Jeng-Hua Yu , Sean Baker , Shih-Ching Tsou    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most helpful customer reviews
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
This verite style study of a Chinese food deliveryman's desperate rush to earn $800 to
pay off the loan sharks that helped pay his way to the US has a nifty sense of almost
documentary realism. The acting is very real and understated (by a cast of both
actors and non-pros), and the tension level is high.

But while I liked and respected the film I didn't have quite as strong a positive
reaction as most critics for a few reasons;

First, while avoiding movie clichés for the most part, a couple of key plot twists are
broadcast a mile off, dampening their impact. Also, by making his lead character such
a cipher (he not only doesn't speak English, but is inward and withdrawn even among
his fellow Chinese), that it's hard to build up a connection with him. Yes, we can pity
his plight, but I wanted to understand what was going on in his head. Also, the
"shaky-cam" shooting style occasionally called more attention to itself then I think
it was intended to. I love hand held film making, but (for me) I don't want it to be so loose
I find myself thinking about it as a technical aspect while I'm trying to get lost in the film.

Overall it reminded me of a slightly less poetic, less rich variation on Ramin Bahrani's
masterful "Man Push Cart". None-the-less, an intelligent, well-meaning micro budget
film (it looks like it was shot on regular definition video), and good enough that I'd be
willing to go back for another look.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Indie Gem. Oct. 18 2013
By NyiNya - Published on Amazon.com
"Take Out" is a brilliant piece of low budget filmmaking. It covers a couple of days in the life a Chinese illegal alien.

Ming Ding is one of those fixtures of the landscape, there but not there, the guy on the bike, head down, weaving in and out of traffic, rain or shine, plastic bags of egg rolls and General Tso's Chicken dangling from the handlebars. He's the guy who hands the bags over to you, listens to you whine about not enough soy sauce or `they forgot the chopsticks', who makes change, takes his tip and never makes eye contact. That's what we see. This is an almost cinema verite look at the parts we don't see.

The world Ming lives in isn't pretty. He and his coworkers are all indentured to the human traffickers who brought them here. Life is work, work is drudgery, pay is lousy. Ming once earned $90 in tips in a single day, his best day. Home is a rented bed in a tenement apartment with 20 or 30 other guys. Still, in a year or two, he'll pay off his debt and start saving to bring over his wife and son. One of the other delivery men is saving to open his own business. They're here for a reason and they're willing to invest some real sweat equity into the program.

"Take Out" is not all grim misery. Director Sean Baker always manages to bring a little low key humor to his work. The scenes in the restaurant have a kind of cockeyed New York charm. If you ever wanted to know what went on behind that counter where you placed your order (and who doesn't), this gives you a glimpse. The give and take between Elder Sister, who owns the restaurant, and her staff feels right. We make the rounds with Ming on one grueling day and night of non-stop deliveries and see ourselves through his eyes. We're the people behind the door, patronizing, cranky, rude. Everyone has a pose, and it's all wasted. All he needs from us, all he wants, is that tip. That's what he's pedalling the bike, why he's dodging trucks at ten o'clock on a miserble rainy night, running up and down two, three flights of stairs to get us our styrofoam containers while the goodies inside are still hot.

The camerawork is first rate, given that this appears to have been filmed in standard definition without much in the way of fancy lighting. Still, the bare bones look is just right; It captures completely the feeling of a working class New York neighborhood and the people who live there. This is not, however, a documentary. There is a plot. It involves Ming's problems with his loan sharks because of a missed payment. The shark sends two guys with a hammer to talk to Ming. They explain that his next payment has to be $800 or the debt will double. A little hammer to the ribs emphasizes the point. Ming goes to friends and family and begs and borrows $650, leaving him $150 short of the needed sum. He's left with one day of delivering take out to earn it.

One of the reviewers felt the film was slow. If you're expecting car chases, chopsocky action and cheap thrills, maybe it is. Even the scene with the thugs who menace Ming isn't over the top. No ninja kicks or flying tiger leaps. There is no gratuitous violence. These fellows are professionals and if they gave Ming a real beating, he might not be able to work the next day and they're more interested getting paid than in breaking bones. Makes sense. If you want acting that's low key and on point, emotions that feel genuine, people who seem real, and slice of life authenticity, you find it all here.

Baker, who did the shooting on "Takeout" has been compared to Martin Scorcese. The Village Voice says this is the most authentic neo-realist film-making since DeSica. The comparisons are valid, but not necessary. Baker holds his own. Watch this and a similar film, "Prince of Broadway." Both are standouts. I hope we see more from this talented hyphenate. Five big stars for a gritty but not overwhelmingly grim NY story. Check out Take Out.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as independent cinema gets July 14 2009
By Cybergosh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I saw this in New York when it opened in June. My girlfriend dragged me. I wanted to see see another movie instead. But it turned out to be a good move for me to see this because the film is well done and very interesting. The acting seems so real it's almost not even like a "movie" but a glimpse into someone's real life. I dug it - it made me really think about that guy's life. Who knew?

Many parts had me on the edge of my seat. It had me when he had to race against time to raise the money. I love race against time sequences in a movie. I will think twice now when i tip the delivery man.

I'm buying this.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD. Great Service! Recommended and reliable. Nov. 18 2012
By Wasim Shafi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The DVD arrived on time and it was a brilliant documentary told from the perspective of migrant workers in New York. Eye opening.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but honest, with genuine emotion behind it... July 14 2009
By R. Harkavy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Watching this film, you can see how the directors spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to portray every aspect of the characters lives authentically, from their interactions with each other during work to their down time. Ming Ding may not talking so much about what he's experiencing, but trust me, you feel it. Strongly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feels like a documentary or reality program...in a good way. June 29 2011
By mom2twoboys - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I saw this movie around the same time I saw "Nobody Knows" and was already sufficiently depressed. Overall, I really enjoyed Take Out. It feels like a documentary, very realistic and almost tedious in the details of this one day in the life of a Chinese food delivery guy.

I will say, make sure you have some good takeout Chinese to go with this. No movie could possibly make you hungrier!

Most of the scenes take place in a place similar to those Tops China or China Star kind of Chinese takeout you see everrryyywhere..the ones with the exact same plastic photos of each dish over the counter, no real seating, just a few folks cooking in the back. It also takes you into the life of a delivery person, who are probably being underpaid and under tipped. This poor man has to deliver in New York, in the rain, on his crummy bike. He owes money to basically a loan shark and is just hoping to make enough 'today' to cover his payment.

This movie is not pretty, not a feel-good movie, but it's so realistic. I enjoyed it. it's different in a good way. Give it a try. It will make you notice some of the more overlooked people around you and teach you that everyone, everyone has issues, a life, a history.
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