CJ7 Stephen Chow

CJ7 Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow has always had a wonderful imagination, and it has allowed him to create visually stunning sequences in his last two films: Shaolin Soccer and Kung-Fu Hustle. His gift for blending off-beat comedy with special effects has created moments that give his live action films a cartoon feel, so it seems fitting that Chow would take a crack at making a family movie with a child as the lead.

CJ7 tells the story of a father and son who live well below the poverty line. Ti (Chow) and Dicky (Xu Jiao) squat in a rundown shack, collect their furniture and clothing from a dump, and bond over cockroach-killing games. Dicky is constantly bullied at school and has to watch from afar whenever the well-off kids get a new gadget to bring to class, including a robot dog called CJ1. When Dicky spots this hot new toy in a department store he throws a tantrum in hopes of convincing his father to buy it, but when you’re living off rotting fruit for lunch, robot dogs are simply not in the budget.

With UFO sightings in the news, Ti manages to come across a peculiar green ball while garbage picking and brings it home for his son. Dicky shows little interest in his new toy until it transforms into an adorable space dog in front of his eyes. At first, all Dicky can obsess about is what his "toy” is capable of doing in order to impress the other children at school and better his lifestyle, not taking into account that his new friend is a living creature from outer space left behind on earth — and much cooler than any gadget.

CJ7 isn’t as good as past Stephen Chow films. Even though it continues his tradition of telling a tale of a prevailing underdog, the characters fail to make a connection, especially Ti, who is absolutely no fun (he’s much too serious compared to past Chow characters), and Dicky becomes a complete brat who constantly abuses his space pet.

The look of the film is slick with some nice moments but it fails to deliver on any of the potential pay offs it brings to the table, and it also fails to bring any significant amounts of action or comedy. Though there are enough good elements in CJ7 to give hope that Chow has the ability to create a very good children’s film in the future. (Mongrel Media)