a critiQal film review CJ7 (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: A struggling single father's (Chow) search for the perfect toy for his son Dicky (Jiao) yields unexpected results.

594 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 58s)

I hadn’t really heard much about CJ7 until noticing it was now on DVD – about all I’d heard was that is was a comedy from the same guy who brought us Kung Fu Hustle.

With that little to go on, I decided to add it to my queue as one of those throwaway films – you know, the ones where if they are bad, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve seen it regardless, and can now move on.

So, would CJ7 be just another throwaway film, or had I stumbled across a hidden gem of a film?

Stephen Chow takes a starring role in CJ7, on top of his directing duties. As the extremely poor, hard-working father of the film, he comes across as honestly genuine in his struggle. Sometimes that struggle gets the best of him and he takes it on his kid in some slightly disturbing sequences – all the more disturbing when the viewer realizes these scenes are trying to be played out with comedic effect.

Aside from that rather unquieting turn in the film, Chow does a good job showcasing how much of a struggle it is for him to get through daily life just so he can put his son in an expensive private school. The depths of their poorness – including his frequent trips to the garbage dump to find repairable shoes or a fan for his son – are shown with an honesty that almost allows the viewer to leave pity out of it. This isn’t a family to be pitied, rather, it’s the strength of a father who is willing to sacrifice everything he has to give his son a better life.

The young boy, played by Xu Jiao, has the “cute” factor working for him – but not much else. While his wide-eyed innocence may get him into films, his complete and utter failure to draw the4 viewers in shows he’s got a long way to go if he’s going to make it as an actor – especially once he reaches adulthood.

The real star of the film, however, is the CGI CJ7, a impossibly cute little alien with the heart of gold. No matter the abuse this family puts him through, this doe-eyed computer animation offers up his assistance at every turn.

Unfortunately, this will probably be the last time this little animated pal will ever be seen, as the plot of the movie is downright awful. While the original “toy for a poor boy turns out to be an alien” concept seems full of promise, the film largely wastes that promise, turning most of the film into ridiculous day dreams and too many sequences involving the school bully and the hulking behemoths backing up both CJ7’s pal and the bully.

With so many bizarre additions to the film, the viewer easily loses sight of CJ7’s sacrifices. SInce the viewer can’t understand why this little alien keeps trying to aid this family despite the torrent of abuse he’s subjected to, it makes the little creature come off as stupid, rather than saintly.

While it would be nice to see CJ7 himself transported to a film that’s deserving of his talents, we’re stuck with CJ7, a film with a lot of potential that does it’s best to completely destroy all hopes the audience had of a movie worth watching.

While CJ7 is cute, and part of Chow’s performance is surprisngly honest, it’s not enough to make CJ7 a movie worth watching, and this film will soon find itself delegated to the bargain bin.

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