In trying to pacify his son who yearns for the latest toy in town, a high-tech robotic dog called CJ1, Ti goes back to his favourite haunt, the junkyard, and picks up a green ball outfitted with an antenna, as a replacement toy. Without his knowing of course, this ball turns out to be an alien lifeform, and Dicky soon uncovers that it has magical abilities.
Directed by: Stephen Chow
. Starring: Stephen Chow
, Jiao Xu
, Lei Huang
, Yuqi Zhang
, Tze Chung Lam
, Sheung-ching Lee
, Wen Xue Yao
, Min Hun Fung
, Yong Hua Han
, Yu Lei
, Zhong You Jin
, Qian Lin Hu
, Yi Ying Cheng
. Music by: Ying-Wah Wong
This movie was one of my most eagerly anticipated movie of the year and it opened in Malaysia on the 1st day of Chinese New Year. My entire family went, the cinema was packed with not just Chinese but Indians and Malays since slapstick humor is universal in its appeal and then the movie began. I don't know what happened to Stephen Chow but ever since he made King Of Comedy, every film after had his deeply personal touch, like almost a clue into the man himself. He has yet to make a bad film since, the good of the film is of course the variable in the equation. With money, studio backing and age he seems to settle down to making movies he wants to make and yet the movies he wants to make is also highly entertaining.
CJ7 is a highly entertaining movie. Many compared it to ET. I find it has no similarity to ET except for the obvious nod to the idea of ET, cute alien and cute children in the story. Personally I never liked ET. The central theme in CJ7 to me is more like Lilo & Stitch, an alien dog befriending a young child and in the process teaches the child the value of family and sacrifice. It is a simple premise that all parents, especially Asian. Some reviewers complained the story about the bullying at school was too simplistic, I in turn find them very real. In Asian school system where everyone wears the same uniform, how one arrives at the school is very telling. This movie began with Mercedes Benz arriving at the school and the status issue is further emphasized with clothes, school bags and even the latest toys. If adults could sneer at another who does not have the latest I-phone or cars, more so children.
However what is wonderful about the process of this movie lies beyond just the superficial. It shows children although mean at first are capable of recognizing a friend and an equal. I love the scenes of tenderness between father and son. Without much money and no TV, their source of entertainment was killing cockroaches. Scary but apparently derived from Stephen Chow's own childhood. In fact like King Of Comedy, I believe this may be Stephen Chow's most personal movie yet.
The acting was top notch. So the ladies had little time, less and less in each of his new movie but more and more prettier if I may add, it was the little girl who played a boy that was perhaps the very reason why this movie is so good. I watched the Cantonese version which meant it was dubbed but it was very well dubbed actually. Xu Jiao was not just cute, but also handsome in a boyish way, tall for her age but looks believably skinny as a poor malnourished boy and her actions were boyishly charming. She was in almost every single scene and yet she was totally mesmerizing. Towards the end in that one single scene when he was told of a news that no child should ever hear, her performance was flawless. If this kid is not nominated for the Golden Horse, I don't think anyone should. The supporting actors, from adults to children were good too.
Now the alien dog, CJ7. I can't find the plush toy version, disappointingly and I hope it will be released soon because that alien is just so cute. Yes it looks a little bit like Chicken Little. No dialog but very expressive and there was even a spoof scene of King Of Comedy by that cute alien dog. The technology may not be the greatest but for a film from Asia, I find CJ7 very well designed and of course very lifelike.
To those who feels this movie is catered for children, well that may be true. But there were moments of intense drama and frankly I think this movie is also catered for adults who once had that kind of childhood or that kind of bond with their parents that they too could appreciate. This movie shows positive values, that no matter how poor, integrity is first and foremost and I think that makes this movie beyond the understanding of a child but it is for an adult to appreciate and to explain to the child the significance of what the father told the son repeatedly.
It is not Stephen Chow's best film but it is better than most of the competition out there because it is cute, it is fun, it is funny and more importantly it is personal. It is like a small window to Stephen Chow's soul and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My conclusion is whatever Stephen Chow offers, I will accept. My compliments to Mr Chow too for being an excellent casting director. He has yet to make a bad casting call thus far and my respect too for his ability to step aside to let the lesser known to shine. He was never one to grab the limelight and even though in this movie his role is significantly smaller than his all other movies combine, he is still a star with screen presence. And that I admire him more because being such a huge star he could still step aside and let a little girl, a little alien dog and a bunch of children and adults alike to dominate the screen instead of himself so as to allow the story to flow smoothly. That what makes him a great director.
A must watch for all fans of good movies worth the price of a ticket.
Review by Funn Lim from the Internet Movie Database.