As if we're not excited enough already, we've got more information on the cast and characters of Stephen Chow’s CJ7. Yes, we’re all drooling. The biggest surprise, if you don’t already know, is that the part of the young boy Dicky is actually played by a girl named Xu Jiao!
Here’s the synopsis, and below the break, there’s more on the characters and the actors who play them:
Featuring the trademark Chow slapstick humor, CJ7 is a comedy about a poor laborer father, Ti, played by Stephen Chow, and his young son, Dicky. When a fascinating and strange new pet enters their lives, Dicky, an elementary school student, sees a chance to overcome his poor background and shabby clothes and impress his fellow students for the first time in his life. The “pet” however has other ideas and when Dicky brings it to class, comedic chaos erupts including a showdown with the terrifying school bully, Storm Dragon!
Ti (Stephen Chow)
Chow’s inspiration for the story started over twenty years ago when as a young man he saw Steven Spielberg’s E.T. at the theatre. “I went back to see E.T. over and over again,” Chow reveals, “and was amazed that science fiction could be filmed like this! I knew then that I wanted to make a movie like that. Steven Spielberg’s work inspired me to become a director.” Always an original, Chow admits that CJ7 is a slight departure from his previous comedies: “This type of story is new to Chinese movies but I hope audiences will like it.”
Dicky Chow (Xu Jiao)
The character of Dicky Chow is a high spirited elementary school student with a mischievous streak. Although from a poor family, Dicky is proud of his background and the values that his father has instilled in him. Wanting the best for his son, Ti, works overtime to pay for the expensive tuition at Dicky’s exclusive academy, but he earns little with his laborer’s wages and is in debt after borrowing money from his Boss. Rough around the edges, Ti is however extremely dedicated to Dicky’s upbringing, often reminding Dicky to be proud of his poor background. He desperately wants Dicky to grow up to make something of his life, rather than have to do menial labor work like himself. His father reminds him often that: “…we may be poor, but we don’t lie, and we don’t steal...” Chow’s own childhood values are echoed in the character of Dicky. “This is what I learned from my own parents,” he confirmed.
Producer Connie Wong said: “While we were in Ningpo, we heard from the AD that a young girl, named Xu Jiao, had done an outstanding audition for the role of Dicky. We really thought that Xu Jiao’s performance matched Dicky Chow’s mature personality. On top of that’s she’s not at all timid and her acting is so natural, so we decided to cast her in the role.” On casting a girl in the role of the young boy, Wong elaborated: “Thousands of boys auditioned, but we couldn’t find one that came close to Dicky Chow’s personality. While we were auditioning the girls for some of the other characters, we found that they were more natural than the boys and so that gave us the idea of having a girl play Dicky. Xu Jiao ultimately brought the character to life with her performance.”
Miss Yuen (Kitty Zhang)
Dicky Chow is constantly being bullied by the other kids at the academy for having worn out clothes and shoes, in addition to being picked on by his own teacher, Mr. Cao. But Dicky has one champion at the academy and that is the beautiful and kind-hearted Miss Yuen, played by newcomer Kitty Zhang, who takes Dicky under her wing.
Zhang describes the character of Miss Yuen in her own words: “Compared to the other characters in the film, she is really quite ordinary, not at all pretentious or dramatic in any way. She cares greatly for her students and treats them all equally, whether they are rich or poor. She has a good heart and is the ideal teacher but underneath is still a sensitive and outgoing young woman.”
Mr Cao (Lee Sheung Ching)
Not all the teachers at the academy, however, appreciate Dicky’s special charms. Mr. Cao, the acrimonious disciplinarian of the academy is hated by the students and not liked much better by the other teachers. Determined to protect the school’s image of exclusivity, he is highly critical of the students’ appearance and particularly picks on Dicky for his shabby clothes and poor background.
Lee Sheung Ching, who plays Mr. Cao, describes his character in his own words “Mr. Cao is an intellectual who believes in elitist education. He despises students who have poor grades, are unclean, and don’t have any talent. He is however, a very straightforward person who makes his feelings and displeasure known, unfortunately mostly to Dicky Chow.” As Mr. Cao, Lee faced some unusual challenges…“The hardest scene for me was the scene where I had to pick my nose. At first, I was full of confidence with my nose-picking skills, but after talking with the director, I discovered that he had taken the act of nose-picking to a whole other level. This act turns social status and identity upside down, then you add in a bit of fantasy mixed with special effects, and you have an instant classic!” jokes Lee.
The Boss (Lam Tze Chung)
Regular Stephen Chow collaborator, Lam Tze Chung who previously starred as the sidekick to Stephen Chow’s character, Sing, in Kung Fu Hustle, plays the “Boss” in CJ7. From the same hometown as Ti (Stephen Chow), the Boss is a tough guy with a loud voice, which he uses to yell mostly at Ti.
Lam Tze Chung describes his character in his own words: “The Boss is someone we see a lot in real life. He may not have an education or manners, but he has a good heart and ultimately he stands up for what is right.”
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