Plot: What’s it about?
Ti (Stephen Chow) is a kind man and a loving father, but he is a poor man and works extensive hours in order to provide for himself and his son. His work ethic has kept food on the table, but it has also left him precious little time to spend with his son. And even with all the hours worked, Ti struggles to keep pace with the basic financial needs of his home. So when his son wants the latest toy that has all the childrens’ attention, Ti is unable to afford one. But while at a junkyard, he does come across an unusual toy that was thrown out. He takes the ball-like toy to his son Dicky (Jiao Xu), who discovers it is no mere toy, but some kind of living, breathing creature. The creature begins to inspire young Dicky, who thinks he can use the new pet to impress his classmates and perhaps put an end to the local bullies’ actions. But can such a small being provide solutions to such problems and regardless, can Ti and Dicky rise above their modest lifestyles?
The films of Stephen Chow are unique, you can spot one from a mile off with ease. In the case of CJ7, his fingerprints are still over the production, but he has scaled back his usual signature elements. This is a slower, sweeter kind of movie, probably not what most of Chow’s fans expected at this point. His over the top comedic touch has yielded a number of enjoyable features, while his martial arts mayhem helped boost him to a high international profile. CJ7 still has Chow’s brand of humor, but it is reserved here, as he takes a more traditional approach. So if you’re after another Shaolin Soccer or God of Cookery, you won’t find it in CJ7, as Chow has reigned in his impulses this time around. Even so, I found CJ7 to be a fun, sweet movie that has small touches of Chow’s style. This is not a masterpiece by any means, but it is a solid picture for the entire family. I wouldn’t put this with his best work, but Chow’s CJ7 is fun and well worth a rental.
Video: How does it look?
CJ7 is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie looks great in this transfer, even if not on the same level as the best Blu-rays out there. The image is clean and clear, with impressive detail level throughout. A few scenes even boast that elusive three dimensional look, though most simply come off as well detailed. The colors are muted in most scenes, but some vivid hues do escape and the reserved color scheme is intentional, so no cause for concern. Contrast looked good, with even black levels and no obscured detail I could detect. So not as razor sharp as some transfers I’ve seen, but still a great looking presentation and fans should be delighted.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original Chinese soundtrack is preserved in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option, which sounds good, but isn’t the kind of track to write home about. The movie is driven by dialogue, but the surrounds do come to life often to offer support. Not extreme power or complex directional presence, but solid presence that enhances the experience. But vocals are the main element here and I have no complaints there, the dialogue sounds clean and clear here. I do think a few scenes could have used more of a boost and some of the re-recorded lines are off, but overall, the audio is up to snuff.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Stephen Chow is joined on commentary by stars and writers, all of whom share some nice insights. This track is subtitled, so it can be tough to keep up at times, but it is worth the effort. A total of six featurettes are next, from topics as wide as character profiles to how to cope with a bully to a general look behind the scenes. None offer much depth, but they’re brisk and for fans of the movie, worth a look. This disc also includes an interactive game, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.