Two Chinese-language films, Stephen Chow's CJ7 and Kung Fu Dunk starring Jay Chou, are poised to kick off the first major box office battle of the year with massive pan-Asian releases over the upcoming Chinese New Year.

This year, the first day of the lunar New Year holidays falls on Feb 7, extending the weekend to four days in most Asian territories and to a weeklong holiday in China. Like Christmas, Chinese New Year traditionally sees a major boost to the box office.

Anticipation runs high for CJ7, thanks to Hong Kong popular veteran comedian-director Chow. His last two films, 2004's Kung Fu Hustle and 2001's Shaolin Soccer, achieved record-breaking box office sales.

Although CJ7 might not be a typical Chow comedy - he plays a father's role for the first time - the sci-fi film is said to be Disney-like with a broad appeal to the audience.

Pitted against Chow is young Taiwanese singer-turned-actor Jay Chou - both share the same Chinese surname albeit with different spellings in English. Chou has a much shorter filmography, but the fan-base for the Mando-pop king is huge in Asia. Initial D and more recently Secret (which he also directed) were smash hits.

CJ7 opens this week in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, one week ahead of Kung Fu Dunk. But they clash head-on in Malaysia and Singapore in which they both open on Feb 7.

Other local offerings which also open on Feb 7 make the Chinese New Year season more competitive than usual. Singapore's Ah Long Pte Ltd is directed by Jack Neo who has a strong track record for Chinese New Year releases, while Malaysia has teenage adventure Dunia Baru The Movie.

Thai martial arts drama Chocolate, directed by Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak, Tom Yum Goong) and starring new action actress Yanin Mitanan who is billed as the female Tony Jaa, will play against CJ7.

Also in the mix is Japanese thriller L: Change The World - a spin-off of the hugely successful Death Note series - which provides counter-programming to the other upbeat Chinese New Year offerings. It opens on Feb 9 simultaneously in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand.