For these reasons and a few more, CJ7, Chow's excursion into child-friendly filmmaking, comes off as beleaguered, if not irrefutably adorable. Ti (Chow) works as a construction worker in Hong Kong and spends his nights rooting around in garbage piles for things he can fix for his son Dicky (played by actress Xu Jiao). It's under one particular heap of broken televisions and discarded clothing that Ti finds a UFO that quickly zooms away after expelling a little green ball with a small circle on the top.
After a few tosses and some expected fidgeting with the small circle, the ball morphs into a little creature in front of Dicky's eyes, a furry alien-puppy that Dicky imagines will be able to beat up the meanest dog in all of China, create technological advances in test cheating, and form bionic footwear that would allow Dicky to one-up his schoolmates. As it ends up, CJ7 can only repair objects: a busted electrical fan, a rotted apple, a few soured relationships.
Chow has never been afraid of convention, a fact apparent by his beguiling embracing of genre schematics. Both Soccer and Hustle are structured like a dozen other action flicks or sports-story retreads, but instead of being laid with red brick and cement, Chow's features are built with silly putty, dynamite, and peanut butter. This delirious energy still courses through his latest film but the degree has changed. Instead of expectations being upstaged, they are merely tickled and given a good mussing.
As with his two previous efforts, the shining gem in CJ7 is the graphic design and animation. Certainly no Mogwai, CJ7 nevertheless is a creative little critter that keeps Chow's stills jumpy and alive; Chow's film could be accused rightly of many things but it most definitely isn't boring. The director wisely paces his film to correspond with CJ7's antics, following studs of textbook structure with moments of wild abandon. The love story between Ti and Dicky's teacher (Kitty Zhang) is thankfully defused at every instance, most notably by Chow's final affirmation of being "too handsome."
Not crazy enough by a measure, CJ7 beats out family-film duds like The Spiderwick Chronicles in sheer buoyancy alone. To the director's credit, the film's weepy moments, and there are some doozies, are put on in a rush in the interest of returning to more lighthearted scenes. As an exercise in family entertainment, Chow has the good nature to at least have fun, both aesthetically and in his writing, rather than tie himself to weighty dramatics. Still, the film is in dire need of some good old-fashioned calamities.
Aka Cheung Gong 7 hou.
Go fetch my iPhone.
Run time: 86 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 31st January 2008
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 39
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Stephen Chow
Producer: Choi Pu Cho, Han San Ping, Vincent Kok
Screenwriter: Stephen Chow, Vincent Kok, Tsang Kan-Cheung, Fung Chi Keung, Sandy Shaw Lai-King, Lam Fung
Starring: Stephen Chow as Ti Chow, Xu Jiao as Dicky Chow, Kitty Zhang Yuqi as Miss Yuen, Lam Tze-Chung as Boss, Lee Sheung-Ching as Mr. Cao, Huang Lei as Johnny, Yao Wen-Xue as Storm Dragon, Steven Fung Min-Hang as P.E. Teacher, Han Yong-Hua as Maggie, Lei Yu as Johnny's Entourage
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