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Original Title:
Cheung Gong 7 hou

Hong Kong 2008


Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow
Xu Jiao
Kitty Zhang Yuqi
Lam Chi-Chung
Fung Min-Hun
Huang Lei
Lee Shing-Cheung
Yao Wen-xue
Han Yong-hua

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Story: Ti (Stephen Chow) is a poor Chinese worker who after his wife's death has to raise his son Dicky (Xu Jiao) all on his own. The two live in an abandoned, run-down house and Ti earns his money on a construction site. Despite all that it's very important to him that his son goes to a private school as he wants him to achieve more in life than he did. But Dicky is bullied by his classmates because he is always dirty and wears worn-out shoes. One day his father brings home something really odd from the junk yard, though. It could be a dog robot or a strange pet from another world. However, it has the power to repair broken things. Dicky now believes that all his problems are solved but things don't turn out to be so easy as the "batteries" of the being the boy named "CJ7" are slowly running low...

Review: Stephen Chow is one of the few individuals who aren't just a brand name in Hong Kong anymore but are a guarantee for good entertainment overseas as well. Of course he owes this to the success of his movies "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle". Therefore, "CJ7" will be a big disappointment for all those who are expecting similar cinema from Chow here. This is mainly because Chow is less to be seen in front of the camera and instead focuses more on his work behind it. That this was a good decision - and in which way - is questionable as his fans will miss the special kind of slapstick humor they learnt to love from him. Without Chow it's simply not the same.

What's also pretty obvious from the start is that "CJ7" is a movie for the little adults or, putting it in kind works, a movie for the whole family. Drama and emotions have always been apparent in Chow's films but the kind of father-son relationship we get to see here works on bit more different level. This comedy surely doesn't become a real drama just because of that and sadly Stephen Chow has too much limited screen time for the chemistry between him and child actor Xu Jiao to be really convincing to the extent appropriate for a movie of that genre. But after all "CJ7" still wants to be a comedy with a lighthearted tone it seems. For this Chow utilizes a strange, little, computer-animated pet.

The CGI effects can be considered well done, but they are always to be recognized as such. This is actually a little bit problematic since CJ7 looks as if being just a comic figure drawn into the film. Moreover, it is very obvious that true to the spirit of the Asian Pokemon-craziness an especially cute speciman was the aim of the creators so that merchandise products would sell fantastically among the little kids as well. Thus, cute faces and clumsy movements aren't missing either, of course. What's surprising, though, is that the alien-pet is treated very bad at some points. It is thrown around, tools are used on him and numerous different methods of abusing are involved, too. But for some reason we never get to know anything more about its origin and the nature of this being - or robot.

Maybe it's also asked too much of a Stephen Chow film to expect some sense or even a message? But then again, why is Chow trying so hard to stress that it's important to listen to your parents since they only want the best for you? Despite all his attempts this comedy remains a lighthearted flick that might have the look of a Hollywood film but may still prove to be a bit too much outside westerners' viewing habits. A sequel to "Kung Fu Hustle" wouldn't have been a problem, but an alien with special skills and small kids that behave as if they were a mirror image of the adult world? That may be just overkill for most. That is as already stated with the exception of the kid audience maybe.

All of that wouldn't be really that much of a problem, if at least the amount of laughs would be right. Sadly, they are kept within a small limit. You don't need to laugh out loud at any point either. The humor so typical for Chow is apparent without a doubt, but maybe it's that this time he isn't carrying it himself what makes it less successful. He is also poking very little fun on other movies but strangely enough on his own, which doesn't feel completely right. That is because making fun of something that was funny to begin with just doesn't work out. In the end "CJ7" is an entertaining movie for the whole family, but it lacks that special something and curiously enough - and above all else - Stephen Chow.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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