The storyline was a widowed father of an adult son with Autism, is dying and struggling to find care for his son for after he passes. I decided to start the film, and to be honest, the opening scene caught my attention and dragged me in immediately. It was brilliant.
This movie was sweet, yet not saccharine sweet. It's in Chinese so you do have to read subtitles unless you know Chinese, but it also shows some of the cultural differences we have in the USA verses China as well. They do seem to handle many things more matter-of-factly than we do ('we' being a generalization of course.)
The movie was just wonderful and if you have time, come across it or look it up, it's worth watching when you are in a nice quiet setting where you can give it your attention. You won't do it any justice by trying to watch it in a chaotic setting, a setting where people among you will be talking and interrupting, or if you are in the mood for a hilariously funny movie. This movie has many funny parts but I feel it's good of a movie for someone to only half-heartedly watch it and not give it their full attention.
Note: I watched the trailer AFTER I saw the movie and I think the trailer is awful and horribly done. So please don't judge the movie on the trailer.
Ocean Heaven (Chinese: 海洋天堂; pinyin: Hǎiyáng Tiāntáng; Jyutping: hoi2 joeng4 tin1 tong4) is a 2010 Chinese-Hong Kong drama film starring martial arts superstar Jet Li in his first full drama role. It also co-stars Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun-mei, who previously starred in Jay Chou's Secret. The movie was filmed in Qingdao at the Qingdao Polar Ocean World.
It was announced that it was to be released in spring 2010, but the release date was pushed back to 24 June 2010, which opened the 2010 Shanghai International Film Festival on 2 June. Jet Li wants this film to get a good message across and promote the works with autism as well as the works of his charity ‘The One Foundation’.
Xue Xiaolu, a teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, wrote and directed the 7 million yuan (US$1 million) movie. The first-time director has been a volunteer for 14 years with Beijing Stars and Rain, a non-governmental educational organization for children with autism. The story was mostly based on her personal real life and experience. She said, "With the addition of actors like Gwei Lun-Mei and Wen Zhang, I am even more confident in the film production."
At first nobody was willing to take a risk on such a non-commercial script until film mogul Bill Kong, the man behind Hero (Yingxiong) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wohu Canglong) stepped in. It saw the inclusion of award winning cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Hero, 2046, In the Mood for Love), composer Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away, Departures, Hana-bi) and production designer Yee Chung-Man (Anna Magdalena, Curse of the Golden Flower).
Ocean Heaven is about a terminally ill father, Sam Wong/Wang Xincheng (Jet Li) as he works his job in an aquarium and struggles to look after his 21-year-old son Dafu/David, who has autism. Sam has single-handedly brought up his son since his wife died in a swimming accident 14 years ago and looks after him day and night. Upon discovering Sam has less than five months to live, he multiplies his efforts to help Dafu learn basic tasks in order to care for himself, as well as searching for a home for him, before he passes away. As the story progresses, the growing relationship between father and son, as well as the community around them, become clearer. Ling ling plays the role of a clown who is part of a small traveling circus (they perform in the aquarium for a short period of time) and who gets on well with Dafu, leading to a close friendship between them
Though Dafu struggles to learn many basic tasks, Sam perseveres in teaching his son the tasks that he will need to know how to perform himself once his father dies. Though Sam never gave up teaching and explaining things to Dafu in a positive and supportive and memorable manner, he did contemplate ending his and Dafu's existence together rather than leave his child to suffer without him. Sam, at this point had yet to tell anyone how far his health had deteriorated, until one day while returning from their hometown, his neighbor tells Sam his doctor came from the city with bags of free medicine and waited two hours for him. Meanwhile, Principal Liu, of the boarding school for mentally challenged children that Dafu attended as a child, recommends Dafu to a newly opened institution where he can stay after his father dies.
Dafu continues learning, though Sam must move into the institution with him to help him adjust. Ling Ling, knowing that she is about to have to leave with her circus, teaches Dafu to pick up the phone in the aquarium when he hears it, and she will talk to him.
Ling Ling leaves with her circus. Sam, for the first time in the movie, swims in the aquarium with his son, dressed in a sea turtle costume he made by hand, telling his son not to be afraid when he is gone; he will be like the turtles in the aquarium, always swimming close by with him. He almost drowns but is helped from water by Mr. Tang and while they chat, Sam reveals his wife's death might not have been an accident as she was a very good swimmer and they had recently found out Dafu is autistic. Sam doesn't blame her for not being able to handle their son's circumstances. There was only one instance in which Sam loses his composure with Dafu, while he is nearing the end, and still working and trying to teach his son how to do his job, Dafu is distracted and Sam yells at him. Less than a moment later and Sam is already mending fences and reassuring his son.
Sam eventually dies, and his funeral is attended by close friends and family. Dafu waves good bye to the sky/Sam, as it seems he has learned people live there, something Ling Ling explained to him earlier when she spoke of her grandmother with him before she left town. After the funeral, Dafu is seen doing some of the things that his father struggled so much to teach him with success. He cooks by himself, knows how to ride the bus, and picks up the phone when Ling Ling calls, and working at the ocean park, a place Mr. has opened the doors for Dafu at any time of the day. It is implied that from then on, Dafu will know how to lead his life on his own, though he still has Sam's old friends helping him along the way.
I checked and the movie is available through Amazon!
Ocean Heaven [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]