Jet Li (李连杰) and Wen Zhang star in Ocean Heaven (海洋天堂), a film shot in Qingdao about parental love and autism. Li plays a worker at the Qingdao Polar Ocean World (where the movie was filmed in 2009) who is worried about leaving his son alone in the world after he passes away. Li’s serious role in this drama is a departure for the Beijing born martial arts action star who previously appeared in movies like the Academy Award nominated Zhang Yimou epic Hero and as Sun Wukong the Monkey King in The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Li Bingbing. In recent years Jet Li has become more active in philanthropy via his One Foundation, and the script of Ocean Heaven is said to have appealed to him with its humanitarian theme of helping others. Jet Li was recently recognized as one of the 2010 Time 100 people who most affect our world. “Nowadays everyone is making blockbusters. Making a seven million Chinese yuan (1 million US dollars) movie requires a lot of sincerity,” Li told reporters in Hong Kong. “This movie is about sincerity. It shows that in this day and age … filmmakers are willing to do something for society.”

A synopsis of the film from Far East Films (which includes a short trailer) says:

One person out of every thousand is born with autism. It follows that China has over one million autism patients. David is one of them: he looks absent-minded, repeats other people’s words, swims with amazing ease, keeps everything at home in exact order… and maybe he is not totally aware of his mother’s death some years ago. Working in an aquarium, Sam Wong takes tender care of this twenty-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 who 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.

A short description of Ocean Heaven on Aiya They Didn’t:

The movie tells the story of an autistic twenty-two-year-old named Wang Dafu. Jet Li plays the boy’s terminally ill father, who works in an aquarium and takes care of his son day and night. The boy’s mother died several years ago from drowning, but Dafu himself is quit adept in the water. In the trailer, father and son are sitting on a dilapidated wooden boat. The father, Wang Xincheng, uses a rope to tie him and his son together, and then says, “Son, let’s go.” Dafu repeats, “Let’s go,” and the two jump together into the ocean.

Ocean Heaven features the cinematography of Christopher Doyle, known for his work on Wong Kar Wai movies like In the Mood for Love, 2046, and Chungking Express. It was screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which Jet Li attended, on June 13, 2010. “I hope everyone can examine what is the most important relationship in life – the relationship between parent and child,” he said. The movie features the music of Jay Chou (周杰伦) and singing of Kwei Lunmei (桂纶镁), one of the film’s co-stars.

The film is in Mandarin Chinese (with English subtitles). See it at theaters including the Broadway Cinemas on the 3F of Marina City (Baili Guangchang) at 88 Aomen Lu near the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center. Moviegoers at Broadway are given a CD of the soundtrack featuring Kwui Lunmei upon ticket purchase. Tickets are 30 yuan RMB, call 6606.1160 for info and show times. Check out a trailer for Ocean Heaven from Youku below.

Relevant Links:
Official Jet Li Website
One Foundation
Ocean Heaven on IMDB
Ocean Heaven Info and Photos on Filmsmash
Ocean Heaven Trailer on Far East Films
Jay Chou Video for Ocean Heaven
Kwei Lun Mei Video for Ocean Heaven

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