Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 5th, 2012
BluRay released: February 14th, 2012
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
For a first time director Xiao Lu Xue has taken on a tricky subject autism. And while there have been many other films that have explored this neural development disorder. Most of these film’s depiction of this disorder rely more on the psychical aspects of the disorder, instead of focusing on the toll that it takes on the loved ones of those suffering from this disorder. It is in this latter regard that Ocean Heaven sets itself apart from other similar themed films.
At the heart of Ocean Heaven is a story about a son and a father and their inseparable bound. Unfortunately for them they are dealt another blow, when the father learns that he has cancer and only has a few months to live. Afraid that there will be no one to take care of autistic son, the father then spends the rest of the film looking for the right person to take care of his son.
And while the overall tone of the film is generally down beat, the film does a good job integrating brief moments of joy along the way. Most notably the scenes in which the autistic son is befriended by a young woman, who works as a clown. Another area in which this film excels are the moments in which the father character takes his son the bear necessities that he will need to survive.
Without a doubt this film’s anchor is its leading man Jet Li (Tai-Chi Master, Hero) in the role Wang Xingchang the terminally ill father. Much is was made about this being his first dramatic role in the film’s advertisement. And while most some may not be able to look past his action hero persona, most film goers which be blown away by his depth of his performance. The film’s other performance of note is Yuanyuan Zhu in the role of Dafu, Wang Xingchang’s autistic son.
Going into Ocean Heaven, I was not sure what to expect, especially since its main star was primarily known for being an action star. Thankfully end product far exceeded any reservations that I may have had about this film. And while the film’s two main characters journey is not a easy path to travel, it is ultimately a rewarding experience that resonates with you long after the film’s final images have faded off the screen.
Ocean Heaven comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels look consistently good and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin. You really can’t go wrong with either audio mix, as dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. The main difference between these two audio mixes is that the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix offers a slightly fuller audio experience. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to read and error free.
Extras for this release include a teaser for the film (38 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Chinese with English subtitles), a trailer for the film (2 minute 1 second – anamorphic widescreen, in Chinese with English subtitles) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (11 minutes 7 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Chinese with English subtitles) that includes comments from writer / director Xiao Lu Xue and actors Jet Li and Yuanyuan Zhu. Despite its brevity, the ‘Making of’ featurette is actually a very insightful look into this production. With some of the topics discussed being, how this film took fourteen years and several rewrites of the script before it finally went into production, Jet Li and Yuanyuan Zhu talk in depth about why they were drawn to this film and all three participants talk about autism. Also included with this release are trailer for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Ocean Heaven gets a first rate release from Well Go USA.
Note: Also included with this combo release is a DVD copy that has all the contents that are included on the BluRay counterpart.