Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer

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, contains 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

Streaming (3 Providers)

Mao's Last Dancer / Reviews

A.V. Club

A.V. Club

It's artless, obvious, and at times insultingly exaggerated.

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Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

The film celebrates artistic freedom without preaching a sermon, and often flies when Mr. Chi is on screen.

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The Washington Post

The Washington Post

Many films have portrayed the rigours of ballet training, but none will make viewers wince quite like Mao's Last Dancer.

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New York Post

New York Post

Recounts the true story of Chinese ballet star Li Cunxin's defection to the US in the schmaltziest TV-movie terms imaginable.

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Chicago Reader

Chicago Reader

Ballet star Li Cunxin's best-selling autobiography gets a curiously tepid treatment.

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Slant Magazine

Slant Magazine

Bruce Beresford can’t even represent Li’s dancing with a modicum of dynamism.

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Variety

Variety

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.

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TVNZ

TVNZ

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.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald

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.

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New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

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.

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Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

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

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