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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: CJ7

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer



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Posted August 10 2008 - 08:07 AM

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Release Date: August 12, 2008
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case
Year: 2008
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h28m
Video: 1080p high definition 2.40:1 / Special Features standard and high definition
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1: English, Chinese (Mandarin), French; Dolby Digital 5.1: Chinese (Cantonese), Thai / Special Features stereo: English and Chinese
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian / Special Features English and French
MSRP: $38.96

The Feature: 2.5/5
Dicky (Xu Jiao) is a poor kid in an elite private school, put there by his father Ti (Stephen Chow) who will do anything to make sure his son has a future. If that means working long hours as a day laborer and scrounging in the junkyard for the bare necessities, so be it. And though Dicky is generally happy, a kid is a kid and will want kid things, namely the latest robotic dog toy. Unable to buy it for him, Ti goes looking for a consolation item in the city dump and winds up returning home with a green, alien orb. For a time all the thing does is bounce, but with a well-placed twist it becomes - well, a creature that's a cross between a Tribble, green gummy candy and a dog. Dicky names it CJ7 (after the original dog toy he wanted) and it's purpose on Earth is anyone's guess. It does have a unique skill though, that Dicky hopes to use to change his fortunes at school. Unfortunately it may not be able to do everything Dicky hopes or thinks it can.

Having respectfully spoofed and skewered kung fu films with the hilarious "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle," Chow set out to make a children's film with "CJ7." Employing his signature brand of over-the-top, physical humor, the film has some of the charm and laughs of the previous films, but a story line that seems, at times, too mature for kids and ultimately too simplistic for adults. In fact, I think many parents would have problems with Dicky's behavior that at first has no explicit consequences and then one rather horrendous one. And in the end, everything gets tied up with a bow for a happy ending. That inconsiderate, half baked quality might get a pass from the kids and, if it were anything but a kid's film, maybe even from the adults. But as it is "CJ7" is hard to recommend for either party.


Video Quality: 4/5
Accurately framed at 2.40:1 the picture is free of physical defects and edge enhancement. Black levels are stable and deep and contrast is excellent. Colors have a good pop and depth, with skin tones skewing warm but not feeling inaccurate. Fine object detail is very good, skin texture and facial hair (even the peach fuzz variety) standing out for their clarity. Noise is visible at times, but is not a great distraction. One of the early effects shots, where Dicky is smashing cockroaches in the kitchen, has a noticeably gritty and processed quality, but subsequent composites with the CJ7 digital character appear fine. In fact the quality of the transfer does no favors for the digital character design and integration, the character often looking too slick and smooth compared to the live action material.


Audio Quality: 4/5
Though offering lossless audio options in three languages, the original language of Mandarin Chinese is preferred if only to avoid the dubbing on the other tracks. Though predominantly dialogue (which seems clear enough considering I don't understand the language), the mix does have a few moments where sound is nicely immersive and enveloping, like the construction site where Ti is working. LFE is used sparingly but has good depth and clarity.


Special Features: 2.5/5

The special features are made up of pieces that are either for kids or adults, but rarely for both. Overall it's a slim and ultimately superficial package, with the commentary being the only worthwhile item.

Cast and Crew Commentary: Chow brings along Lam Chi Chung (who played the Boss), Lee Shing-Cheung (who played the teacher), and writers Tsang Ken-Cheung and Lam Fong for the commentary track that is in their native Cantonese with optional subtitles. There's a nice balance of background information and general joking around, though some of the latter might get lost in translation. I was hoping for a little more depth in terms of the character behavior and motivation, but much of the information is technical and anecdotal with little analysis.

CJ7 Mission Control: Rudimentary game for kids with the goal of getting CJ7 into space.

The Story of CJ7 (13m40s): Basic featurette covering the writing and casting of the film.

CJ7 TV Special (22m05s): In-depth piece includes more behind-the-scenes footage and interview with the special effects supervisor responsible for the CJ7 character animation.

Anatomy of A Scene (6m40s): Behind-the-scenes of the bathroom interrogation scene.

How to Bully A Bully (4m11s): Silly piece with an annoying host offers questionable advice on handling schoolyard bullies.

How to Make A Lollipop (1m29s): Behind-the-scenes look at making lollipops out of clay.

CJ7 Profiles (6m58s): Film highlights of each the characters.

Theatrical Trailer (2m10s)

Previews: Persepolis, Men In Black, Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th Anniversary Edition, Spider-Man 3, The Water Horse, Surf's Up, Monster House, Open Season, Married Life, The Jane Austen Book Club


Recap

The Feature: 2.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 2.5/5

Half-baked children's film from action-comedy director Stephen Chow gets very good audio and video transfers but a lackluster special features package.
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Martin Henry

Martin Henry

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Posted August 11 2008 - 05:56 AM

Just a quick note, Mandarin isn't the original language. CJ7 was shot via sync-sound with both Cantonese and Mandarin actors speaking their native tongues. Both Chinese tracks are in effect dubs, with the lip movements matching neither 100%.

The Hong Kong BD also has the Cantonese track as TrueHD, but has no extras.

The film itself gets a 3.5/5 from myself. Seems that too many people expected another Kung Fu Hustle from Chow,(which is coming in due coarse), but Chow thankfully went completely about face with this. The fact that he's essentially a supporting actor in this is also a sign of Chow's maturity as a filmmaker, instead of the usual centerplace he takes.