Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer

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Mao's Last Dancer

The true, rags-to-riches story of Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin - from rural China to ballet stardom as one of the world's greatest dancers.

In 1972, the 11-year-old Li (Huang Wenbin), living with his family of six siblings in eastern China, is selected as a student with promise by representatives of Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. He attends their harsh and unforgiving school and becomes one of its star pupils. In '81, Li (now played by Chi Cao) is chosen to travel to the United States as part of a student exchange with the Houston Ballet Company. There he becomes a star when given a key role in a televised production of Die Fledermaus. Loving life in his new home, Li falls for fellow dancer, Elizabeth (Amanda Schull), and makes the decision to leave his old life behind and pursue a life of personal and creative freedom in America.

2009Rating: PG, Infrequent mild violence and coarse language117 minsAustraliaEnglish and Mandarin with English subtitles
DramaTrue Story & Biography
Director:
Bruce Beresford ('Tender Mercies', 'Crimes of the Heart', 'Driving Miss Daisy', 'Last Dance')
Writer:
Jan Sardi
Cast:
Chi CaoAmanda SchullKyle MacLachlanBruce GreenwoodJoan ChenJack ThompsonHuang Wenbin
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Reviews & comments

Variety

Variety

press

Leaning heavily on rural childhood flashbacks and boot camp-like training as a teenager in Beijing, the story lights up when world-class performer Chi Cao leaps about as the adult Li, but is marred by lumpy melodrama when the music stops.

0
TVNZ

TVNZ

press

Told in flashback and starting with Cunxin's youth, it shows the horrors of living under the Mao regime in China. Li's plucked from a poor school and thrust into a dance academy where he trains as an apprentice.

0
Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald

press

Beresford hasn't usually allowed himself to become this corny. This new film appears calculated to do two things: make everyone cry and maximise its appeal to those red-blooded, childlike Americans who think "freedom" is a US concept.

3.0
0
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

press

It's something of an irony that this film should be as wooden, formulaic and literal-minded as the improving Communist entertainment that, at one point, it implicitly criticises.

2.0
0
Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

Feel-good movie about a Chinese dancer presses all the right buttons.

0

I would have liked to have known what happened to his family and his teacher, how were they punished. Would have liked to see more of their life and hardships in China. I would have liked to see Li arrive in America, did he fly direct into Houston? Scenery (Houston) kind of monotonous, I thought! More "fantastic" shots would have been Los Angeles,...

4.0
0

Actually, the dancing is probably worthy of 4 or more stars. I'm not a ballet fan but the adult Li actor was amazingly lythe and technically brilliant and hot! The film was an utterly cliche rendition of the rags/riches drama. But you can't help love a true story, despite mediocre acting.

3.0
0

Amazing chereography, beautiful dance moves and great acting really made this movie worth a watch from start to end and worth spending your dollars on

5.0
0

This movie not only tells the story of Li Cunxin but also informs or reinforces our historical understanding of the ways in the time of Mao. Really good movie.

4.0
0

Read the book, but that goes on a bit too. Movie could have been so much better with more dancing and China and less about America. Too Hollywood for me.

2.0
0

Having lived in Asia for a number of years and seen the many pictures of Mao still around in China, I was completely enthralled by this movie. Beautifully scenery and a great representation of the book. Yes, there were tears. Incredible dancing and an inspiring story. One of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

5.0
0

Although I expected something with more complexity from Bruce Beresford, the film was very engaging and the dancing was spectacular. Th actors who played Li at different stages were very believable and the adult Li made the film in my opinion. He was a superb dancer and his acting showed real depth despite the often predictable plot and stereotypical...

4.0
0
Variety

Variety

press

Leaning heavily on rural childhood flashbacks and boot camp-like training as a teenager in Beijing, the story lights up when world-class performer Chi Cao leaps about as the adult Li, but is marred by lumpy melodrama when the music stops.

0
TVNZ

TVNZ

press

Told in flashback and starting with Cunxin's youth, it shows the horrors of living under the Mao regime in China. Li's plucked from a poor school and thrust into a dance academy where he trains as an apprentice.

0
Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald

press

Beresford hasn't usually allowed himself to become this corny. This new film appears calculated to do two things: make everyone cry and maximise its appeal to those red-blooded, childlike Americans who think "freedom" is a US concept.

3.0
0
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

press

It's something of an irony that this film should be as wooden, formulaic and literal-minded as the improving Communist entertainment that, at one point, it implicitly criticises.

2.0
0
Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

Feel-good movie about a Chinese dancer presses all the right buttons.

0

I would have liked to have known what happened to his family and his teacher, how were they punished. Would have liked to see more of their life and hardships in China. I would have liked to see Li arrive in America, did he fly direct into Houston? Scenery (Houston) kind of monotonous, I thought! More "fantastic" shots would have been Los Angeles,...

4.0
0

Actually, the dancing is probably worthy of 4 or more stars. I'm not a ballet fan but the adult Li actor was amazingly lythe and technically brilliant and hot! The film was an utterly cliche rendition of the rags/riches drama. But you can't help love a true story, despite mediocre acting.

3.0
0

Amazing chereography, beautiful dance moves and great acting really made this movie worth a watch from start to end and worth spending your dollars on

5.0
0

This movie not only tells the story of Li Cunxin but also informs or reinforces our historical understanding of the ways in the time of Mao. Really good movie.

4.0
0

Read the book, but that goes on a bit too. Movie could have been so much better with more dancing and China and less about America. Too Hollywood for me.

2.0
0

Having lived in Asia for a number of years and seen the many pictures of Mao still around in China, I was completely enthralled by this movie. Beautifully scenery and a great representation of the book. Yes, there were tears. Incredible dancing and an inspiring story. One of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

5.0
0

Although I expected something with more complexity from Bruce Beresford, the film was very engaging and the dancing was spectacular. Th actors who played Li at different stages were very believable and the adult Li made the film in my opinion. He was a superb dancer and his acting showed real depth despite the often predictable plot and stereotypical...

4.0
0