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CJ7

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG (For Language, Thematic Material, Some Rude Humor and Brief Smoking)

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Starring: Stephen Chow, Kitty Zhang, Xu Jao, Huang Lei, Lam Tze Chung, Fun Mn Hun, Lee Sheung Ching, Yao Wen Xue, Han Yong Hua

Written by: Vincent Kok, Tsang Kan Cheong, Sandy Shaw Lai King, Fung Chih Chiango, Lam Fung, Stephen Chow

Directed by: Stephen Chow

 

Studio: Sony

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Stephen Chow, Actor Lam Tze "Fatso" Chung and Actor Lee Sheung Ching, CJ7: Mission Control, The Story of CJ7, CJ7 TV Special, Anatomy of a Scene, How to Bully a Bully, How to Make a Lollipop, CJ7 Profiles, Theatrical Trailer 

Specs: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: August 12th, 2008


 

 

"CJ7" is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. It's a very sharp transfer, with its biggest asset being the vibrant color saturation - the bright hues and tones really pop off the screen. The green portions of CJ7, the browns of the construction yard and the blues of the night really stand out. Also excellent are the accurate fleshtones, and phenomenal detail. The print used is also really clean, creating for a superior and very film-like transfer. On the downside though, there is some very slight edge enhancement - plus edge halos, and a little bit of shimmering here and there. The flaws, however, are not enough to seriously ruin the overall image quality.


 

"CJ7" is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, either in Mandarin (the film's original language) or a poorly dubbed English track. (Please, please stick with the original.) I also listened to bits of the English track, and other than the cringe-inducing dubbing, it seemed pretty similar to the Mandarin one. That means you get dialogue that is very clear and firmily centered, and music mixed robustly through the channels that pack a surprising amount of power. There are also a more than decent amount of surrounds that are pretty discrete, such as CJ7's antics, the subtle noises of a junkyard at night or work on a construction site. Fidelity is high, dynamic range is vast, bass is pretty deep and subwoofer use is pretty good. Like the transfer, the 5.1 mix delivers the goods.

A French Dolby Surround track is also included. Subtitles in English and French are on the disc, too - and there's English Closed Captions available through your TV.
 




First up is an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Stephen Chow, Actor Lam Tze "Fatso" Chung and Actor Lee Sheung Ching. It's in Mandarin Chinese, so be prepared to read this track. Personally, I found it a bit on the dull and dry side. The trio are friendly and joke around, but their comments aren't really screen specific and are often irrelevant. Here and there Chow opens up about technical details and the storyline, but even those discussions are short and don't add up to much. This is for die-hard fans of the movie, and/or Stephen Chow, only.

The Story of CJ7 is a featrurette lasting nearly 14 minutes that focuses on the film's production. Much better than the commentary Chow participates in, Chow discusses his desire to make a kids movie. The basics are covered, namely the plot, casting and creating the actual CJ7 character. Also chiming in is writer/producer Vincent Kok and some of the cast. A pretty good watch, with plenty of footage from the set.

The CJ7 TV Special is just that: a TV special about the film's production (and 22 minutes, making it long enough to squeeze in a few commercials). Some of the comments here from Chow and Kok overlap with the previous featurette; but there's enough new material to warrant a viewing - namely the big focus on the visual effects, and more detail on designing CJ7. Some of the visual effects bits are a little on the dry side, but film buffs should find them pretty interesting. Also added to this mix is rehearsal footage, and Chow being quite the active director on-the-set. Fans of the movie should give this a go.

The Anatomy of a Scene featurette, lasting 6 minutes and 40 seconds, shows all the elements of how a piece of the movie is brought to life: when CJ7 gets bullied inside a bathroom. Chow and the actors give some thoughts and context to what's going on, as do some of the crew and a visual effects guy. It's all brought together in the end with a split-screen of what was shot on set, and the final product.

The rest of the disc is kiddie-centric. The ridiculous How to Bully a Bully - hosted by some creepy cel-shaded dude and using clips from the movie - sends some mixed messages about what kids should when encountering a bully. Here's my advice: talk to your parents, and never EVER use DVD promo material to help you handle things in reality (unless it's those "G.I. Joe" live-action clips, or something). The super-short How to Make a Lollipop is sorta interesting: those colorful treats in the movie are - GASP! - made of clay. There are also CJ7 Profiles that introduce some of the characters in the movie, and CJ7: Mission Control is a fun little game for the kids.

Last but not least, there's the Theatrical Trailer in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.

 

"CJ7" is pretty bizarre for a family film, let alone a bit cheesy. It also doesn't come close to the inspired wackiness of Stephen Chow's previous smash cinematic success, the crowd-pleasing "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle." While the DVD does not disappoint - with a really nice presentation and an array of supplements - the movie is probably best left as a rental for die-hard Chow fans and the curious.