Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Mao's Last Dancer
Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Pink Floyd Fire TV Stick Sun Care Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer CafeSociety CafeSociety CafeSociety  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Segway miniPro

Format: DVD|Change
Price:$5.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on March 25, 2011
This review is for in theaters version only, not the DVD.

This inspiring film is based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, principal ballet dancer who defected to the United States in 1981. It includes the suspenseful account of a 21-hour international incident when Li was held hostage in Houston's Chinese consulate.

The film begins with his childhood in Maoist China. The first portion of the movie was actually filmed there. Li was taken from his family to train at the Beijing Dance Academy while he was still a young child. After harsh, rigorous training, he was chosen for a dance scholarship with the Houston Ballet Company in a cultural exchange program.

There are comical moments as Li adjusts to the soaring skyline of Houston's modern buildings, ATM's that dole out cash, and misconceptions about english words. Actor, Bruce Greenwood, does a great job portraying the artistic director of the Houston Ballet, Ben Stevenson, who takes the young dancer under his wing and helps him adjust to his new life in the United States.

The casting for this film is miraculous! Chi Cao plays the extraordinarily talented Li. Wowee! This is a film where the camera man does not have to fake the quality of the dancing. The performers are exceptional! The Australian Ballet's prima ballerina, Madeleine Eastoe, plays Li's dance partner. This beautiful film is a Must See for dance fans. Lavish scenery and costumes were provided courtesy of the Australian Ballet. There are scenes from the Rite of Spring, Swan Lake, the Don Quixote pas de deux, and a political ballet from the Maoist era, "The Red Detachment of Women". The viewer sees long choreographed sequences instead of chopped up bits and pieces. The carefully chosen dance scenes help mirror the sentiments of the ongoing storyline.

Excellent acting from many cast members, superb directing...an excellent film.
Some of the scenes have spoken dialogue in Chinese with English subtitles.
0Comment| 74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
MAO'S LAST DANCER is a gem of a film that proves that true stories of the travails of artists who must have freedom to express make excellent stories. And in this case the story is true. Adapted from the autobiography by the same name by Li Cunxin and adapted for the screen by Jan Sardi and directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Bride of the Wind, Breaker Morant, Double Jeopardy, etc), this story gradually unfolds in both China and America and is in both Chinese and English.

In the author's own words, 'In a small, desperately poor village in northeast China, a peasant boy sits at his rickety old school desk, interested more in the birds outside than in Chairman Mao's Red Book and the grand words it contains. But that day, some strangers come to his school - Madame Mao's cultural delegates. They are looking for young peasants to mold into faithful guards of Chairman Mao's great vision for China." "The boy watches as one of his classmates is chosen and led away. His teacher hesitates. Will she or won't she? She very nearly doesn't. But at the last moment, she taps the official on the shoulder and points to the small boy. "What about that one?" she says." This is the true story of how that one moment in time, by the thinnest thread of chance, changed the course of a small boy's life in ways beyond description. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a president and first lady, movie stars, and some of the most influential people in America. One day he would himself become a star: Mao's last dancer and the darling of the West.'

The film opens when Li Cunxin (Chi Cao, who joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1995 and was promoted to Principal in 2002.Trained at the Beijing Dance Academy and the Royal Ballet School.His parents were two of Cunxin Li's former teachers at the Beijing Dance Academy. Li wanted Cao to portray him) is only a peasant boy of 11 (played at that stage by Wen Bin Huang) and proceeds to show us the above described aspects of his life, as a teenager (played by Chengwu Guo) during his training in Beijing, and finally in his visit and eventual defection to America in 1979 - 81. Representing the American aspect of the story is the kind generosity of Houston Ballet choreographer Ben Stevenson (Bruce Greenwood) and dancers and members of the support teams for the ballet. Once in America Li discovers his true talent in classical ballet and wants to remain in America, but the Chinese consulate refuses to let him remain in America, even though Li has met and fallen in love and married. Li is torn - between his love for the family he might never see again (Joan Chen is remarkable as his mother), his love for his wife, and his need to remain where he can polish his gifts as a classical ballet dancer. The well publicized hostage situation in 1981 is included in the film as is the gradual transition of the Chinese growth after the death of Chairman Mao. The ending is a bit saccharine, but by the ending the audience is so enraptured with the story that it all works well. Grady Harp, May 11
0Comment| 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 7, 2011
Mao's Last Dancer (2009) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.4 Import - Australia ] This is a wonderful movie for anyone who loves ballet and a good story. Li Cunxin, a Chinese dancer, defected to the USA when he was a young dancer. This is a story of heartbreak, amazing tenacity and the eventual success of this very brave man. I have been fortunate to meet him and he is truly inspirational. It's a great feel-good film that you can watch many times without tiring, plus the dancing is sublime.
0Comment| 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 29, 2010
This review is for in theaters version only, not the DVD.

This inspiring film is based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, principal ballet dancer who defected to the United States in 1981. It includes the suspenseful account of a 21-hour international incident when Li was held hostage in Houston's Chinese consulate.

The film begins with his childhood in Maoist China. The first portion of the movie was actually filmed there. Li was taken from his family to train at the Beijing Dance Academy while he was still a young child. After harsh, rigorous training, he was chosen for a dance scholarship with the Houston Ballet Company in a cultural exchange program.

There are comical moments as Li adjusts to the soaring skyline of Houston's modern buildings, ATM's that dole out cash, and misconceptions about english words. Actor, Bruce Greenwood, does a great job portraying the artistic director of the Houston Ballet, Ben Stevenson, who takes the young dancer under his wing and helps him adjust to his new life in the United States.

The casting for this film is miraculous! Chi Cao plays the extraordinarily talented Li. Wowee! This is a film where the camera man does not have to fake the quality of the dancing. The performers are exceptional! The Australian Ballet's prima ballerina, Madeleine Eastoe, plays Li's dance partner. This beautiful film is a Must See for dance fans. Lavish scenery and costumes were provided courtesy of the Australian Ballet. There are scenes from the Rite of Spring, Swan Lake, the Don Quixote pas de deux, and a political ballet from the Maoist era, "The Red Detachment of Women". The viewer sees long choreographed sequences instead of chopped up bits and pieces. The carefully chosen dance scenes help mirror the sentiments of the ongoing storyline.

Excellent acting from many cast members, superb directing...an excellent film.
Some of the scenes have spoken dialogue in Chinese with English subtitles.
0Comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 19, 2010
This film is complex: it operates on many levels. There is more to it than is initally apparent.
It is the adaptation of the autobiography of the dancer, Li Cunxin, who grew up in China, and against all odds, was chosen for training as a classical ballet dancer. Li was the sixth son of a family who came from "peasant" stock for several generations. Li ultimately went to Houston for summer school with the Houston Ballet. During this time, Li fell in love with an American woman, who having a hidden agenda, married Lei in the hope being accepted into the Houston Ballet, as a fellow artist. Upon the expiration of Li's Visa, he learned that China would not extend it. Li was expected to return home to serve his government. It was then that Li and Liz secretly married. With his newly acquired American citizenship, returning to China was out of the question for some time for Li. The Artistic Dircetor of the Houston ballet arranged for Li's to vist him in America and see their son perform for the first time.
The marriage dissolved when "Liz" finally left Li to audition for a ballet company in San Francisco.
Li ultimately married Mary, a Prima Ballerina with the Houston Ballet and his dancing partner. Together, with other members of the Company, they returned to China and Li was able to visit his family.
The couple now reside in Austrailia with their children.
This movie is about triumph: making that which seems impossible, possible. It is awesome and inspiring. It is about the triumph of hope over adversity.
22 comments| 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 17, 2010
A lot to like about this film. Authentic background, though a little light on his early years and the incredible hardships of family life as the sixth son, and which makes the reunion with his parents after he is a success a little strange, though his humility and love for them is now made apparent. Wonderful ballet sequences topped by Stravinsky's music in 'Rite of Spring'. I hope American audiences can meet this film with an open mind.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 29, 2010
The film, by the director of "Driving Miss Daisy", was wonderful to watch on many levels. The political background was softly done because the main story was the success for this young man who was arbitrarily picked for classical ballet training by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution (thus, the title). The dance sequences were marvelous and I had wished for more. The young dancers who portrayed Li, Mary and others are truly gifted and I hope to see Chi Cao on stage in the near future. It is interesting to note that Li, whose story this is, after 15 years of professional dancing, is now a stockbroker .... how different his life might have been had he been an eleven year old now, with more freedom to choose careers. One of the ironies in his story is the fact that he had no choice, and yet through tremendous determination and talent, he danced on the world stage for many years.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 14, 2010
A true story of survival and perseverence of a young dancer from China during and after the cultural revolution, this is a heart warming account of a young artist who enjoyed the freedom to live and dance in America. The cultural aspects and the short clips of the beautiful ballets were well presented. The most touching scene was the curtain call when the son was reunited with his parents after years of separation. Instead of big hugs and kisses, he simply knelt before his parents and the proud father's comment was "Why did you dance without a shirt on ?"

This beautiful bi-cultural movie will be a classic for years to come.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 7, 2011
This film is a beautiful and emotional account of a life story of a child from communist China, who winds up in the US as a young man. I won't reveal his destination, but truly what is more important is his journey. This is a true story based on memoirs, masterfully told on film. I laughed, I cried, my wife and I loved this film. Highly recommended to anyone, especially for those from a communist country, or those who love dance, or those who love Art Cinema.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 29, 2011
We watched this as a rental. It moved both of us to tears. The movie is one of the best we have seen. The story unfolds gently and captures the viewers' hearts. I bought it as a gift for a relative who will be equally moved by the story. Amazon sent the item quickly after I ordered it. Many thanks to hardworking personnel.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.