Mao's Last Dancer
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The true story of Li Cunxin and his journey from rural China to the bright lights of ballet stardom is brought to the screen in this biographical drama from director Bruce Beresford. In 1972, 11-year-old Li Cunxin (Huang Wenbin) is living with his parents, Niang (Joan Chen) and Dia (Wang Shuangbao), and six siblings while attending a tumbledown school in Shandog province. Li's life changes when representatives of Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy visit his school, and he is one of several students believed to have promise as a dancer. While life at the school is difficult for Li and… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Bruce Beresford's biopic of Li Cunxin, the Chinese ballet dancer who defected while on a student visa in Houston in 1981, is sometimes the movie equivalent of Oscar Meyer cold cuts. But the dancing is pure caviar."
‑ Jonathan F. Richards,
"Lovely and astounding, Mao's Last Dancer is a modern epic of art and ambition triumphing oppression."
‑ Tom Long, Detroit News
"a sweeping story that has many ups and downs, with some pretty noticeable changes in tone and pace"
‑ Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures
"Woefully creaky and corny."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"Debuting actor Chi Cao's athleticism is the movie's most striking element."
‑ John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
"Feel-good movie about a Chinese dancer presses all the right buttons."
‑ Peter Brunette, Hollywood Reporter
"Too often, though, the film plods along on the ground."
‑ Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"Missteps prevent ballet drama from reaching great heights."
‑ Don Groves,
"The script is far too melodramatic, and the performances ... are hamfisted and overwrought."
‑ Sean Means, Salt Lake Tribune
"Ballet is kinda like ice hockey. It's more impressive when you're up close at the real deal. When you're 30 yards away, the snap of a slipper after a 90-lb ballerina lands a glissade is just as impressive as a 290-lb hockey goon hitting the boards."
‑ Mike Ward,
"Australian director Bruce Beresford handles the culture-clash aspects of the story with a surprising lack of subtlety."
‑ Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Ballet star Li Cunxin's best-selling autobiography gets a curiously tepid treatment in this 2009 adaptation by director Bruce Beresford."
‑ Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
"...somehow makes the extraordinary true story it's based on seem like common corn while succeeding in modest ways."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"Mao's Last Dancer is such a profoundly moving story, it's hard not to get drawn in as Li must decide how much he's willing to sacrifice for his American dream."
‑ Graham Killeen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Mao's Last Dancer is an epic tale of love and betrayal, triumph and heartbreak, that captures the real-life drama and emotion of one man's search for freedom. Well, it almost is."
‑ Chris Robinson, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
More reviews for Mao's Last Dancer on Rotten Tomatoes