Proudly touted by Martial Arts superstar Jet Li as his first non-action movie, Ocean Heaven is a 2010 Chinese Drama.
Jet Li plays Wang Xuechang, a single father of a mentally-retarded adult son Da-Fu. For all their poverty, they share a close and loving bond, strongest expressed by their frequent trips to the local aquarium, where Xuechang works as a technician.
One day, Xuechange is diagnosed with a terminal and inoperable liver cancer. Faced with the awful finality of leaving a man-child who cannot look after himself in a cruel and uncaring world, this is a story of love between a father and his son in his final summer.
This film provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: This film plays up on fear of living your offspring defenseless when you die, especially when he is autistic, also in another scene, accidentally killing your own child.
- Always with You: As a turtle!
- Animal Motifs: Wang Xuechang represents himself as a turtle and discusses it.
- Benevolent Boss: Director Tang could be a patron saint because of this film. Let us count the ways: He allows Da-Fu to swim in the aquarium when the aquarium is closed. He offers to take care of Da-Fu after Wang Xuechang's death. He even allows Wang Xuechang to swim with his son on the last stages of his cancer even if it is risky for Wang Xuechang because he wanted to have one last swim with his son and also gives said son a job in the aquarium.
- But Now I Must Go: Ling-ling leaves Da-Fu since she works in a traveling circus. She calls from time to time.
- Driven to Suicide: Wang Xuechang speculates that his wife may have done this after learning Da-Fu was autistic since she was a good swimmer and her accident was in an ocean.
- Averted with Wang Xuechang and Da-Fu in the introduction. We see him tying a weight on his and Da-Fu's ankles and then taking a plunge.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Given what you hear from Old Wang, you'd think his wife and Da-Fu's mother is a saint. Subverted in that she committed suicide upon learning Da-Fu's disability.
- Foregone Conclusion: With a dose of Reality Ensues. They did say terminal liver cancer.
- Foreshadowing: We see Wang Xuechang's wife looking at the sea looking very depressed or maybe even crying. Then Old Wang implies that he believes his wife's accident wasn't really an accident.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: and Purpoises, seals and turtles. Da-Fu apparently has a lot of marine friends.
- Manchild: Wang Xuechang's mentally retarded son Da-Fu
- Missing Mom: Old Wang's wife has been dead 14 years since the story began due to an accident in the ocean. Or was it really an accident?
- Mercy Kill: Wang Xuechang tried to do this with his son as a double suicide but changed his mind.
- Offing the Offspring: Averted Accidental Murder sort.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Played painfully straight in narrative; there are plenty of services catering to homeless orphans and the elderly in China, but none-whatsoever for mentally-imparied adults.
- Someone To Remember Her By: Old Wang sees his wife in Da-Fu because Da-Fu got his good swimming skills from her.
- The Reveal: Wang Xuechang does not believe his wife's death is accidental.
- Reincarnation: Wang Xuechang tells his son that after his death he would become a sea turtle who would be near him whenever he swims.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Madam Chai implies that she is in love with Wang Xuechang.
- Spiritual Successor: Ocean Heaven is thematically almost identical to the Visual Novel Air by Key/Visual Arts, adapted to Anime by Kyoto Animation. Both are bitterswet tales with symbolic allusions to the ocean and sky, about the love between a parent and a child in their final summer together. In Air, however, the child is a terminally ill girl who must find a way to rekindle her relationship with her emotionally distant and alcoholc stepmother.