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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CHEUNG GONG 7 HOU / CJ7 (2008)

Stephen Chow, Hong Kong master of Martial Arts pics (comic/anarchic division), tries on an extra-terrestrial story (kiddie division) and comes up short. Or does for Stateside crossover, with a plot that can’t hurdle the East/West cultural divide. It starts well enough, charting a day in the life of young Dicky, a working-class kid in a posh private school. Chow plays the boy's hard-luck dad, a common laborer who’ll do anything to keep him there. Some delightful early scenes detail the father’s devotion: rummaging thru trash for school supplies & outfits, groveling to the boss for overtime work, coping with the cockroach infested hovel they live in; while over at the fancy school, Dicky’s classmates are merciless & the teachers mostly sadistic. Broad, but funny stuff, with some impossible/cartoon-like visual gags tossed in the mix. But Chow overplays his idea, bringing home an indestructible junkyard toy that magically morphs into a bouncy little pet that’s half puppy/half genie. It sends everything into overdrive without ever adding up. (He also veers wildly off tone with a fake-out climax.) Yet, even when the concept goes seriously haywire, Chow manages to put shots together with tremendous facility, and gets good perfs out of the school kids & teachers; and a terrific one from his main villain, a tiny student monster who runs roughshod at school over . . . well, over just about everyone! The kid’s a holy terror, and the best thing in the pic.*

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *IMDb.com lists this kid as Lei Huang, but brings up a different Lei Huang if you click on the name.

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