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Written by Funn Lim


"My conclusion is whatever Stephen Chow offers, I will accept."







SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Released In
2008 (1st day of CNY!!)

Version
The following is a review of the Cantonese version. I always prefer to watch Stephen Chow un-dubbed.

Origin
Hong Kong I suppose.

Director
Stephen Chow

Writers
Stephen Chow (writer)
Chi Keung Fung (writer)

Cast List
Stephen Chow ... Ti
Min Hun Fung ... P. E. Teacher
Chi Chung Lam ... The Boss
Shing-Cheung Lee ... Mr. Cao
Jiao Xu ... Dicky
Kitty Zhang Yuqi ... Miss Yuen

Interestingly the other children were not listed in IMDB.com.

Summary
A poor Chinese laborer learns important lessons after his son gets a strange new toy.

Not accurate at all. It is a son of a poor Chinese labourer learns the value of love and sacrifice when his poor Chinese labourer father brought home what was seemingly a junk toy which turns out to be an alien dog left behind by a spaceship where the boy nicknaked the alien dog, Cheung Gong 7, thus the title CJ7 (as in Chang Jiang Chi Hau - mandarin version).

More info
Imdb.com where I submitted a similar shorter review. See if you find my review.

An Observation
The trailer(s) and even the TMO revealed very very little about the contents of the movie. In fact the focus was really on the alien dog but very little on everyone or everything else. I thought the TMO was boring but the trailer brilliant because I am sick of those hollywood trailers that basically shows all the best clips, the entire story in the space of 3 minutes or so. Stephen Chow kept the trailer to the minimum and his name alone to attract viewers. May not work in foreign countries but who cares. In China despite the snow storm this movie opened the biggest for a very long time so that speaks volumes. I seriously think the box office in Asia alone is enough for this movie. I am sick of those nitwits complaining about the trailer, the lack of humour, the lack of Stephen Chow's screen time, the lack of this, the lack of that. Look! Name me another Hk movie worth your time and I shall predict that movie is either an adaptation of some Japanese manga, triad movie or some silly boring love story starring singers who can't act and actors who can't act. Enough said.

Comments
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 humour 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. Truth is I am a big fan of his. I followed his career since the 1st day and since I was a child. I grew up watching his TV series, movies, appearances and to see him transforming from a very good dramatic actor to great comedian to a very good storyteller and a great director was indeed a privilege. 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. The story I do not think I need to repeat. It is a simple premise that all parents, especially Asian parents would be able to identify; single poor father working hard to ensure a better future for his only child who was humiliated in school simply because of his clothes, his finances. 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 emphasised 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 recognising 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. It shows.

The winning element of this movie is of course not just the special effects (totally awesome by the way and only Stephen Chow could blend live action, CGI and all the special effects without overwhelming the audience and the CGI is used to enhance the story and not the other way around) but the acting themselves. 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 plays a good son who became wayward for a short while when he thought CJ7 could help him achieve what he wants without much effort. 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 reaches the zenith with almost perfection. If this kid is not nominated for the Golden Horse or what not, I don't think anyone should. She is of course ably supported by other child actors, one of whom plays the snotty rich boy to hilarious result and a huge girl with a tiny girlish voice. I find the focus on the children were very welcomed. The adults did just as well although very few scenes.

Now the star is of course 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 but more pet-ish. No dialogue 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. 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, that is King Of Comedy nor is it as fancy as Kung Fu Hustle which in itself is an excellent movie. 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 eventhough 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 a good movie worthy of the price of a ticket.

Verdict
Go now! Go! And get me that CJ7 plush toy NOW!

Trivia
Interestingly Xu Jiao is actually a girl playing a boy. I was wondering why, no boys can play boys? Well I am convinced. She is a very cute boy, handsome as well. She cried when she was told she had to cut her long hair but she still do it because even as a 9 year old she knew opportunity like this is rare to come by. Stephen Chow famous for his hot temper on the set actually mellowed because he was dealing with children. He was also famous for not liking children since his debut work was as a children show's host and he was rather rude to them. But he ages I suppose he mellowed down although he is still not a father. He likes Xu Jiao so much she is now his god daughter! You must admire him; he knows talent when he sees one.
And by the way I read in the net that the rich boy and the bully henchboy of the rich boy are both girls!! And the big girl with the tiny voice is actually a boy!! What a gender bender film!! But they were all excellent.

I saw the TMO, the scenes with the kids were filmed in Mandarin whilst his scenes alone or with HK actors were filmed in Cantonese. So I am sure there is a Mandarin and a Cantonese version. In the Cantonese version, the girl's voice was dubbed but excellently dubbed whilst in Mandarin version, Stephen's voice was dubbed, but poorly dubbed. So I definitely recommend Cantonese version because only some lines can be delievered in Stephen's own voice.

Most Favourite Line from The Movie
"We children don't need to let the adults know everything". It was a very witty line poorly reproduced here. But most favourite was towards the end when something not very good happened to CJ7, the boy asked the father what to do and the father exclaimed "Hah? Ran out of battery??". Very funny.

SPOILERS ALERT. The ending is...
Please left click your mouse, drag it from ** to ** to read the contents below.
** Huh? was my first reaction. I really didn't get the ending but seeing the possibility of so many variants of CJ7 in plush toys just got me really excited. Anyway what's the ending? CJ7's soul went back to his mothership and he survived there although he left a doll like shell? Huh? But I was very moved by CJ7's sacrifice to revive the father who was killed at the construction site because even an alien knows a child can't live without his parent. He can't be an orphan because he would be all alone. That scene where Dicky cried and cried to sleep when he heard of his father's death was so sad I think almost everyone in the cinema was very quiet and some were quietly sobbing. Anyway that thing about the ending for the alien is the only bad spot of this movie. Someone care to explain their theories? **




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