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Ocean Heaven [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Jet Li    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 14.05
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Actors: Jet Li
  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Feb 2012
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B0060KGSGO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,303 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jet Li's first dramatic role 23 Mar 2012
Dafu is 21 and autistic, his dad is dying from cancer and has only a few months left to find someone to take care of his son. Not your typical Jet Li movie but in this film there are no great fights or action sequences, instead you get a wonderfully moving and genuine film.
Jet Li and Wen Zhang take on the lead roles with Zhang outstanding as the autistic Dafu and the chemistry between the two lights up the screen.
Set against the backdrop of an aquarium where Dafu loves to swim the film shows the patience in a father trying to teach his son to be independent and understand that he will soon die.

A real pity that we in the UK cant see this film.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple yet effective tale of determination 2 Mar 2012
By Shawn McKenna - Published on
This has been touted as Jet Li's first starring non-action drama. While that is interesting it is probably the wrong approach to think of Li's past roles before watching this movie. This is a simple bittersweet realist drama that is a moving cinematic experience because of the earnest performances. Jet Li's minimalist characterization is the right approach for his character Wang Xuechang and quite different than his action persona. The director describes Li's character as "like a man who has become a mother." He is described by others in the film as a good man, which he is. He is doing the best he can with this situation with dogged determination, not with brilliance or luck, but perseverance. Wang is a maintenance work for an aquarium and had lost his wife fourteen years ago. He also has complete responsibility of his son Dafu (Wen Zhang: also acts with Jet Li in the later The Sorcerer and the White Snake) who suffers from severe autism. Wang is also dying from liver cancer and is given around three months to live.

The film stars off inauspiciously. Wang takes his son out to the ocean to drown him and himself. This does not work because the son had secretly untied the rope and the son has one special gift in his mostly closed world -- he is an excellent swimmer. So Wang goes back to his home and work determined to leave his son prepared for his passing while his pains get worse by the day. At first he tries to find a place where he can leave his son. But either the institutions are for kids or seniors which the 22-year old does not qualify. While this proves difficult he also spends time going over simple behaviors like riding the bus, cooking eggs, and spending money so he can have some semblance of a normal life.

While Dafu spends his days swimming in the aquarium tanks he befriends a travelling circus clown and juggler Ling Ling (Kwai Lun-mei: also acts with Jet Li in the later Flying Swords of Dragon Gate; she also sings a song for the film) who also gives Dafu someone else to trust. But given that her life is nomadic and that Wang's life is slowly ebbing away you are left to wonder what is going to happen to Dafu.

This is Xue Xiao-lu's first directed film. Her only other screen credit is for the writing on Chen Kaige's Together. Xue has stated she has worked on this project fourteen years, referring to her volunteer work with autistic children, and by the time the screenplay got to be read by Jet Li it was in its seventh draft. What is impressive is the crew that was put together for this film. For the cinematography you have Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Hero), for the music you have Joe Hisaishi (Kikujiro, Spirited Away) and production design by Yee Chung-man (Tokyo Raiders, Shaolin). Having this triumvirate is quite unbelievable considering the modest budget. Their collaboration helps the film immensely in sound and image.

This is a beautiful looking film. The cinematography and production design is dominated by blue hues throughout as a constant allegory to the water in their lives. The acting from Li and especially Wen is quite good. There relationship is quite touching as is the relationship between Dafu and Ling Ling. That one is underplayed, but I think that is the right decision for this film. So much of the success of this film depends on how Wen portrays his character's interactions with these two. There are no magical solutions to the familial issues, just a lot of hard work from caring people. There are no real antagonists in this story. Some might consider this a negative, but the movie does not need it. I am glad, because Dafu's life is difficult enough and the movie is emotional enough. I had to watch it in two sittings because the first half depressed me quite a bit. I do recommend this movie and hope those who are on the fence about watching this to give it a watch. I think it is quite a good film.

There are certainly some parallels between this film and Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung's Heart of Dragon. Both films were dramatic roles dealing with a caretaker having no choice in dealing with a mentally challenged relative and both were popular action stars getting a chance to expand their acting repertoire. This film also reminds me of Zhang Yang's underrated Shower in which the relationship between Er Ming and Liu parallels that of the two main characters here. There is also a water motif present in both films though I think the allegory is stronger in Shower and more matter-of-fact here. I mention these films because both are interesting and different approaches to similar matter. Shower is also one of my favorite films.

I saw this on the R1 Well Go DVD release. But there is also a R1 BD/DVD combo available from Well Go which should have the same extras. For the extras there is an 11 minute "Making of" extra which has interviews from Jet Li, Kwai Lun-mei, Wen Zhang and Xue Xiao-lu and inserted footage from the movie. It has some good information, but is ultimately too short. There is a trailer and a teaser for the movie as well. The start-up trailers (not accessible by menu) are 1911, The Stool Pigeon and The Man From Nowhere. I found a mistake in the description on the back cover which uses names for the two characters (Sam and David) that appear nowhere in the film and there is no English dub so I am not sure where they came from. The two dubs for this are a Mandarin 5.1 Dolby and a Mandarin Dolby Stereo. There is also an R3 Edko release of this film that came out in 2010.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OCEAN HEAVEN Is Righteous 16 April 2012
By E. Lee Zimmerman - Published on
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 repetitive behaviors - repeating sounds or phrases, arranging and re-arranging objects and furniture, flapping or waving of the hands and/or fingers, etc. Of course, there are other vastly more serious and complicated medical symptoms and realities; but the end result is that - when dealing with the traditional parent-child relationship - it becomes increasingly difficult to responsibly raise a sufferer who neither completely grasps the direction or advice offered nor possesses the skills to adequately define any cause for alarm to the parent. Still, the parent continues on - out of love - and that's the central theme behind writer/director Xue Xiaolu's latest film, OCEAN HEAVEN.

To his surprise, widowed handyman Sam Wong (played by Jet Li) discovers that he's entering the final stages of an advanced terminal illness. In normal circumstances, Wong would simply go about spending some quality time of shoring up his own personal affairs; however, he must put the desire to square up his relationships aside in order to place all of his effort into securing some reasonable future for his 22-year-old son, David (Lunmei Kwai), a victim of autism so severe that he lacks anything resembling a normal existence and quite possibly won't survive independently. With no other family or institution available to assist with this highly personal challenge, Wong fights an uphill struggle to connect once-and-for-all with the boy in a way that can give him half-a-chance to live in a world he's always at odds with.

The film opens with a sequence - I won't go into any specifics here so that I don't spoil it for any viewers - that I found a bit off-putting. It isn't the sequence itself that I found a bit problematic - it's a fact that, in the scope of time, I was at a loss to understand what had legitimately `happened' at the opening until a bit later in the film. (Trust me: once you see the film, I have no doubt you'll probably understand what I'm referencing.) It's a small quibble, but I think it should've been either handled a bit differently or given a better explanation earlier than it does; there are hints, but it's never fully explained until later than I believed was helpful to the narrative. What it did (for me) was throw me for a loop: I am watching these events in their proper chronology or is the picture `as a flashback'? To my delight, it worked out the way I hoped - no harm, no foul - but, as I stated, I believe it could've been handled better. Who knows? It may even have been something lost in the film's translation (subtitles).

That small quibble aside, OCEAN HEAVEN is nothing short of pure cinematic brilliance.

In his hands as David, Kwai embodies so much of the picture with an infectiously youthful innocence. Director Xiaolu clearly goes to great lengths to capture how David's perspective on the larger world outside flavors so much of the young man's perceptions. To be precise, Xiaolu even tries - to great effect - to display "how" David sees the world, positioning the camera to record what the young man's exact visual impressions would be. In the hands of a lesser director, it could have all ended up more than a bit maudlin - an aggressive film-school narrative trick unintentionally demeaning the `affliction du jour' - but it works here, winningly, and that's because of respectful attention given to the material. As David's counterpoint - presenting the point-of-view which most movie watchers will identify with - Li gives an exceptionally convincing performance as the troubled father. Clearly, this aquarium worker has lived a humble life - one entirely dedicated to raising his boy after the death of the mother. This grounding in reality - in the hands of man who accomplishes `fixing' things but yet can't even begin to understand how to `fix' his child - gives OCEAN HEAVEN the chance to not so much be an advocacy picture in support of treating autism so much as it sticks to a central theme no one can find controversy in: at all times, be a good parent. So much of the father/son relationship works here because the two characters remain `committed' to one another in this crippled reality - both are shown struggling to find their respective voices instead of securing a grand solution suitable for a motion picture audience. It's always poignant. It's always relevant. It's always reverential to that central struggle, not the players, and that's why it excels on so many levels.

The production is impressive. The director put a tremendous amount of work in securing not only a certain look but, as well, a certain environment for the story, and it's photography beautifully. Colors are rich and vibrant when needed, and they're necessarily muted when the story calls for it. Sound presentation is equally important, and no expense has been shared. It's a top notch production given a top notch pressing here. There's a brief `making of' featurette - essentially a series of intercut interviews - and trailers, but nothing else.

HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION. I went into this one with, seriously, very little expectations. I mean ... Jet Li? In a dramatic role ... as a single father suffering a terminal illness? It's nothing short of wonderful - if not heart-wrenchingly so at times - a brilliant story of one man's acceptance of the fact that connecting with his autistic son may not only mean bringing the son into his world but also having the courage and conviction to live forever in the boy's world.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA provided me with a DVD screener copy of OCEAN HEAVEN for the expressed purposes of writing this review.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable & Poignant 29 Jun 2012
By Dave Miller - Published on
As the dad of an autistic boy, I was very moved by this film. I'm not well versed in foreign films nor Jet Li's work, so I was drawn to it simply by the subject matter. Even though I just happened to stumble upon this DVD, I'm glad I watched it. It is a beautiful story with authentic acting and very visually appealing.

The most impressive thing about this film is the accurate portrayal of the challenges between a father and autistic child. The very real fear of who will care for your child after you're gone, the frustrations over your inability to connect with your child and the one way nature of expressed love are all dead on in this film. Xiao Lu Xue's (Director & Screenwriter) many years of service with autistic children and their families create a true to life account of a Dad and son.

Kudos to Xiao Lu Xue, Jet Li, Lunmei Kwai and all involved in this special movie.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 5 Mar 2012
By Timmy - Published on
If you want a movie you can cry along with-then this is for you. Fantastic performances all across the board. No English dialog but that does NOT take away from the movie. Highly recommended.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jet Li Shines 18 Feb 2012
By J Tate - Published on
I just loved this movie, although I must admit up front that there are few Jet Li movies I don't like! A definite departure from the martial arts genre for Jet Li in this touching, sad, moving and emotional drama of a father trying to help his autistic son gain some independence before the father dies. It was hard not to invest yourself in Jet Li's character. Jet Li's performance is understated but amazing and I really hope he adds more dramas like this to his repertoire of movies as well as his more usual martial arts films. The guy who played the autistic boy also did a very, very good job in his part. I like Jet Li in dramas and he also did an outstanding job in The Warlords with Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro. I recommend Oceans Heaven.
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