Since Sam Raimi and Quentin Tarantino sky-rocketed Stephen Chow’s US reputation with their effusive praise of Shaolin Soccer, you’ll probably find that the least well received picture in Chow’s ouevre has been the sci-fi family film CJ7. Personally though, I absolutely love it, and this is in spite of its sometimes woeful CG work and the occasionally confusing slapstick non-sequiturs (see also: Drag Me to Hell). Despite the director’s long standing promise of a sequel to the masterful Kung Fu Hustle, it seems the first direct follow up to be spawned from one of Chow’s pictures will be a CJ7 continuation – CJ72, if you will. Instead of being live action like the first installment, however, this one is to be all-animated.
Animation is a better medium for the intent and style of this particular cinematic world, maybe. At least from a commercial perspective, where it might seem that the medium of animation and family film genre have been overlapped for a long time now. The story tells of a poor single father who finds a strange oddity on a trash heap and gives it to his son as a toy. When the weird thing turns out to be an alien, the young boy finds a new and curious ally in his terrible day-to-day school life of bullying and dejection.
Chow isn’t directing the second movie, handing over to Yuen Kin-to who was described by China.Org as a “Hong Kong cartoon film director”. He was previously responsible for the McDull movies, which feature a rather cute little Pig character. I recall McDull from his appearance on a DVD of SARS-awareness shorts I have, which also featured a winning little mini-film by Chow.
The voice cast of the animated CJ7 is to be made up of the actors from the live action film. The weird kink here is that the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of the original each required different actors to have their voices dubbed by native speakers of the necessary language. I imagine there will be two versions of the toon too, not to mention international versions for the world market.
As for Chow’s next directorial project… no concrete news as yet. He may still be starring as Kato in Gondry’s Green Hornet, or he may not; he may be making a superhero film with Jack Black and Anne Hathaway, or he may not; he may be mounting a big-screen movie of Journey to the West, or he may not; or he may even deliver that Kung Fu Hustle follow up.
I want Journey to the West most of all. You?