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Ocean Heaven

A Chinese film starring Jet Li

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A Dying Father And A Handicapped Son...Jet Li in his First Dramatic Role Yet!

  • Dec 7, 2010
After the successful release of “Fearless”, Jet Li had announced that it would be his last martial arts film. A year or two after, Li won the best actor award for his performance in “The Warlords”, a Chinese historical epic. He even joked about his performance; “…if I knew I could act, I never would’ve become an action star.” Well, even aging action stars need to have a change of pace and Jet Li seems to have become comfortable with the idea of not being an action hero. “Ocean Heaven” is a dramatic film that looks like an haughty tearjerker at first impression, but director-writer Xue Xiaolu surprises with an amount of simplicity and restrained execution. Jet Li doesn’t fight in this film, but plays the father of an autistic young man…

Wang Xincheng (Jet Li) is single parent who works in a ocean park and who takes care of his disabled child Dafu (Wen Zhang). Wang finds that he has a terminal illness and he only has a few months to live. Desperate and afraid for his son‘s future without him to attend to his needs, Wang tries to send them both to a watery grave but when Dafu manages to squirm free, Wang realizes that fate may have something else in store for them. Now father must learn from his son and his son must learn from his father. Wang must teach Dafu to tend to himself, while he begins a friendship with a traveling clown named Ling (Guey Lun-Mei) and Wang realizes that he has more friends than he thought he had…

       李连杰 & 文章 海洋天堂

      桂纶镁 海洋天堂

“Ocean Heaven” is a film about everyday heroes and how parents prepare their children for the realities of the world and the challenges of a parent when their kid may not have the ability to be self-sufficient. I am not a parent myself, but I know how my folks prepared me for this world and I owe everything to them for being the man I am today. This film goes into the fear of a parent when they know their child can never be fully independent; what comes is the acceptance of the inevitable and to pray for the best. I would have to commend the direction by Xiaolu as the film sidesteps the temptation to become overwrought with emotions and rely on manipulative theatrics to touch its audience; the film also avoids being too sentimental and in turn the film becomes charming, grounded in its screenplay and quite real because of its simplicity.

    文章 海洋天堂

   桂纶镁 海洋天堂

For a film like this to work, the direction has to inspire an attachment from its audience. Jet Li is quite convincing as the ailing father who teaches his son to be independent. Li brings forth a calm and yet a man with a terrific sense of urgency in assuring his son’s future. I would have to agree with Madam Chai (Zhu Yuanyuan) when she says that Wang is the last good man she knows. Wang is a very sympathetic character, and it proves to be too easy to form an attachment to him that when he is gone, the viewer would miss him. Much of the film’s most dramatic moments come from Wang’s time with Dafu and Wen Zhang is just amazing as the son. Zhang is just as solid as can be expected, the viewer would feel his issues and his sense of helplessness. The film’s most effective scenes come from whether Dafu will learn or not, the viewer fears for his fate as I feared the inevitable. Most of Wang’s efforts come mostly from action than words; Wang shows rather than tell, but there were times that he did both. The supporting cast isn’t so bad either; the subplot between Dafu and Ling served up some charming moments; theirs was a friendship that felt real and realistic. It was a platonic relationship that is based on pure friendship and it wasn’t hard to buy into since their relationship was developed well despite the limited time in the screenplay.

   李连杰 & 文章 海洋天堂

Yes, the film does have some narrative clichés. There was a time when Dafu couldn’t learn a simple thing and the frustrations just flare from Wang’s face and when Dafu went missing, they appeared to have been ripped from the drama playbook. Thankfully, the direction was clever enough as to not dwell on those scenes too much. There are some forced sequences and of course the film is dedicated to Wang’s preparations, but I was happy that the film didn’t lose its footing and remained solid in its pacing. This is a film about a simple man trying to tend to his son, and it doesn‘t stray from its intentions.

“Ocean Heaven” is a film made by big-name stars and production staff who made the film because of its humanitarian messages. Even Christopher Doyle (Wang Kar-wei’s right hand man), composer Joe Hisaishi (Miyazaki’s composer in anime) doing its musical scores, and Jay Chou (the upcoming Green Hornet movie) who wrote the theme song were involved. This film had a lot of backing and it shows. Li was said to have only been paid a dollar to make this film, it proved that everyone cared about its subject matter. The film has great intentions as it is dedicated to the everyday heroes and we should give these stars a round of applause. "Ocean Heaven" is a touching, endearing drama which is a slice of everyday life.

Highly Recommended! [4 out of 5 Stars]

A Dying Father And A Handicapped Son...Jet Li in his First Dramatic Role Yet! A Dying Father And A Handicapped Son...Jet Li in his First Dramatic Role Yet!

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December 09, 2010
Somehow the plot reminds me of "Heart of the Dragon" made in 1985 and starring Jackie Chan as a cop trying to take care of his mentally retarded brother and keep his girlfriend all the while taking on crime. It was melodramatic, but fun.
December 10, 2010
Yeah. I had that same raction, only this one was pure drama and no action was even in it. Loved Heart of Dragon.
December 10, 2010
The last battle in that in the building that was under construction remains one of my favorite Jackie Chan action sequences right up there with "Police Story" 1 & 2.
December 08, 2010
Excellent review WP, I have been wanting to see this so bad, had no idea he did this for one dollar.
December 10, 2010
yup. the proceeds go to charity.
December 07, 2010
This sounds like a captivating film. I will have to see it, especially in light of Sharrie's remarks about Jet Li.
December 10, 2010
Sharrie's comments indeed add some sense of pride to the film.
December 20, 2010
December 07, 2010
I suspect that he took up the role partly due to his having lost his youngest daughter during the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami while he was in Maldives. Jet's 2 daughters & a nanny were in the ocean with him when Tsunami hit and momentarily he could not reached his young daughter who had loosened the grip from the nanny. Luckily for him, a lot of people know who he is & they all helped in rescuing her from the sea! Since then, Jet Li has been a changed man! In recent years, he had set up a charitable foundation whereby every Chinese in China can simply make a donation of RMB 1 through their cellphone. If everyone in China donated just a mere yuan, that would come up to over RMB 13 billion!!!

Li has influential connections & is able to garner those connections for a higher cause. He is now a Singaporean, if you don't know that already ;-) Who knows, may be I'll bump into him on the street this weekend :p
December 07, 2010
wow! that makes sense in a way. The film sets a story as to how he lost his wife. I didn't know Jet had become such a humanitarian...good for him! Thanks for all the background info, Sharrie! I bumped into him here before when a friend's brother was teaching his wife how to speak English. It was fun.
December 07, 2010
Lucky you! His wife was a former Miss Hong Kong! They made a pack during the early stage of their dating that if their relationship can survive a 10 year period, then and only then they will get married!
December 20, 2010
That is so cool. I remember he turned down Crouching Tiger so he could keep his promise to her. Hey, Sharrie, you like Andy Lau? (hint hint)
More Ocean Heaven reviews
review by . April 16, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
   In the past several years, there’s been a tremendous increase of awareness surrounding the nature of autism.  To be correct, autism is medically known as, either, Autism or Autism Spectral Disorder (ASD); both terms define a group of disorders associated to the development of the human brain.  Typically, persons suffering autism display difficulty in interacting socially; in fact, they may experience difficulty with any form of communication.  They may engage in …
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Dafu is one of the million autism patients in China: he looks absent-minded,repeats other people’s words,swims with amazing ease,keeps everything at home in extact order...and maybe he is not totally aware of his mother’s death some years ago.Working in an aquarium,Wang Xincheng takes tender care of this tewnty-two-year-old son of his.With the generous help of the neighbors,the two live happily together.Yet,the father understands very well that in the end,he will have to depart from the world,leaving his son alone-and that day will come sooner than everyone is ready to believe.This film is an ode to a father wo is determined to find shelter for his son before it is too late.In the process,the boy achieves a measure of independence necessary for both to let go.
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