More noise than signal

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site,

If you find yourself garnering something of a reputation for excellent kung-fu based comedies, I can only assume the natural response is to want to stretch your wings a little. At least, that’s what I gather based on the example of Stephen Chow. After the well-recieved lunacy of Shaolin Soccer and Kung-Fu Hustle, Chow sets his sights on a more kiddy friendly tale with his latest outing, the enigmatically titled CJ7.

Chow directs himself as a dirt-poor but honourable labourer on a construction site, but the main focus is on his young son, Dicky (Jiao Xu, who’s actually a girl, by the by). Working hard to send his son to a fancy school, his kid is teased for the garbage-salvaged trainers and uniform their Dickensian poverty forces him to wear. Despite this, Dicky is proud of his father and his moral upbringing. Some jealousy is caused by the local insufferable rich kid’s latest toy, a (frankly underwhelming) robot dog called CJ1, provided exclusively to him and the U.S. President’s daughter.

His father’s inability to provide an equivalent to this zany gadget causes some tension between the pair, and his attempt to smooth things over by presenting Dick with an odd green ball found while out dump-surfing one night does little to mollify him. He would perhaps be a little more amped up about it if he knew that this was in fact an intergalactic space dog, and indeed it’s not long before the intergalactic space dog reveals himself, and indeed Dicky soon gets all amped up about it. As to a name for it? Well, clearly it’s better than CJ1, so CJ7 seems appropriate. Yes, that’ll do.

And so it goes, in its fanciful and entirely inoffensive way. If it has a problem, and it’s really more of a problem for me than it is for the film, it’s that it’s very firmly aimed at an audience about a quarter of a century younger than I am. Despite a few cute performances and Chow’s now trademarked endearingly shonky CGI, there’s not an awful lot for adults to enjoy. And of course, it would behoove us to point out that unless your kid speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, or displays an uncharacteristic love of subtitles, there’s not much for most U.K. based kids to enjoy either.

That said, there’s the odd moment of fun to be had. I don’t think I’d mind being bullied at school were I being told that no matter how much I eat I’m doomed to be a dwarf. The design of CJ7 is almost obnoxiously cute, and there’s the inescapable feeling throughout that this is intended as either a homage to or piss-take of E.T., but with an alien who can fire out jobbies much like a Bren gun does bullets.

Outside perhaps of a small percentage of kids who speak the lingo, I struggle to think of any compelling reasons to track down this film on it’s exceedingly limited release nor at any point down the line on home formats. While it will raise the odd smile amongst Chow fans many years outside its target audience, it won’t do it often enough to be able to recommend it as anything other than a curiosity. I do feel rather guilty about saying that, as it’s a perfectly acceptable movie, just not one that’s aimed anywhere near me.