Ocean Heaven AKA Hai yang tian tang AKA Ocean Paradise [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Well Go USA
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (2nd January 2014).
The Film

***This is an A/V and extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

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.

Video

Well Go USA have released the Jet Li drama "Ocean Heaven" onto Blu-ray in the USA in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer gets the full 1080p treatment, and uses an AVC MPEG-4 codec. It's good, but it is far from being reference quality.

The most unfortunate thing with the transfer here, is it feels as though it lacks depth, and comes across a little flat. There are a lot of blues used here by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, from the pale blues of the aquarium uniform, to the various darker shades of the water and the walls, most of which look good. Black levels lack a bit of consistency, but are generally good, especially when it comes to hair, though there is a little bit of blockiness at times in the shadows, even if it is barely noticeable. There seems to be a little too much digital noise in some scenes compared to others, usually in those with panning shots, or that take place outside, but it's not a particularly major issue. Detail is average, with some close-ups exhibiting slightly less detail in peoples faces than people used to high definition would expect. Background detail can be strong though, especially inside the aquariums, and in the marks on walls. Overall, the transfer looks natural, and without any signs of digital noise reduction or any signs of damage such as scratches - it just doesn't have that 'wow' factor.

The disc is region free, and the feature runs 97:07.

Audio

There are two audio options available here:
- Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Naturally, I opted for the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 option, and although it is technically fine, there isn't much to it. The track is very much dialogue driven (this is far from typical Jet Li), and because of this, the vast majority of the track is based around the front speakers. The rears are only really used for the score, and very rarely for anything else, whilst I'm not even sure if the LFE was used more than momentarily. At the same time, there really isn't a huge amount of opportunity for the LFE and surrounds to be used outside of the score. Even when scenes are taking place in the water tanks at the aquarium, the action takes place behind the glass at the front, and thus uses the front speakers only. Although not a particularly involving mix, there is nothing inherently wrong with it.

Optional subtitles have been included in English.

Extras

The main extra here, is a short "Making Of" featurette (11:06, SD). This is a little short for my liking, but they do manage to touch most bases here. We hear about where the story came from, and some of the decisions that were made during filming. There's a nice little interview snippet with Jet Li towards the end, and a couple of interview snippets with crew members throughout. Not quite enough depth, but an easy watch.

The rest of the extras are self-explanatory...

Start-up Trailers (HD):
- "1911 Revolution" (0:55)
- "The Stool Pigeon" (1:46)
- "The Man From Nowhere" (1:43)
Teaser Trailer (0:37, SD)
Theatrical Trailer (2:01, HD)

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: D Overall: B-

 


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