Science fiction may replace martial arts as the hottest genre in Hong Kong, if Stephen Chow's new movie CJ7 takes off. Chow helped reinvigorate the sagging martial-arts genre with Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. And the long-awaited CJ7's blend of CGI and zany stunts could do the same for science fiction. That's as long as it doesn't stray too far into heartwarming family movie territory.
The plot definitely sounds a little schmaltzy: Chow plays an unemployed guy who lives in a half-demolished building and adopts a homeless boy (played by a girl.) He can't afford to buy the kid a toy, so he finds a shiny object in a junkyard, which turns out to be an alien artifact of tremendous power. And then aliens turn up looking for it. The visual of the spaceship rising out of the junk heap, animating a dead television, has a slapsticky coolness to it. But the little kid's bone-rattling scream could get old fast. CJ7 (also called Hope) is supposed to hit theaters Jan. 1, according to Fandango, but the just-released trailer doesn't mention a date. Bottom line: Chow has earned enough good will with Soccer and Hustle to make his father/son space adventure worth checking out.