CJ7 (Cheung Gong 7 Hou) Review
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Though he made his directorial debut in his native Hong Kong well over a decade ago, writer/director/actor Stephen Chow made his first big break in the States with 2001’s Shaolin Soccer (followed by 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle). Chow’s films, known for their innovative style and their wacky comedy, have opened many a young film-loving eye to the joys of Hong Kong cinema—and though his latest film is a bit of a break from his norm, it’s still just as much fun.

In CJ7 (or Cheung Gong 7 Hou), Chow aims for a younger audience with a simple story that brings back memories of everyone’s favorite extra-terrestrial.

Chow plays a poor Chinese construction worker who’s doing everything he can to give his son, Dicky (Jiao Xu—who, by the way, is actually a girl), the life he deserves. Though they live in a tiny shack, Dicky’s father makes sure that he has enough money to send his son to the best private school in the city.

At school, though, Dicky is an outcast. He doesn’t have the right shoes or the right toys—and even Dicky’s teacher keeps his distance. After Dicky throws a fit in a toy store over a cool new robot dog that everyone has, his father tries to find Dicky a cool new toy—by digging through the city dump. At first, the new toy looks like just a stupid rubber ball—but Dicky soon discovers that it’s actually a magical puppy from another world.

Though CJ7 is clearly reminiscent of E.T., Chow adds his own signature touches to make it fresh and fun. Whereas Spielberg’s alien movie was filled with heart and drama, Chow adds all kinds of melodrama and silly, slapstick comedy to keep his audience laughing—even though they may shed a tear or two as well. And the comedy is stuff that’s fun for the whole family—from Dicky’s giant classmate with the tiny voice to the slick, ‘80s-style bully, with a poop joke or two thrown in for a few extra laughs from the kids. In fact, CJ7 succeeds where Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s The Forbidden Kingdom failed. CJ7 holds nothing back; it fully commits to being both melodramatic and corny. From the beginning, you’ll know that it’s okay to laugh at the silliness of it all. And instead of feeling like you’re laughing at the movie, you’ll feel like you’re laughing with Chow.

For a film populated with kids, CJ7 is a great all-ages movie. The humor is silly, the story is cute, and the actors are even cuter. Though their performances aren’t always spot-on, they’re sure to make you smile. And, well, little Jiao Xu might just be the cutest kid on the planet.

If you’ve got kids who can sit still long enough to read subtitles, be sure to share this silly, out-of-this-world story with them. If not, share it with any of your grown-up friends who can appreciate a little bit of silliness.

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