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Movie Review

Mao's Last Dancer also known as “O Ultimo Dançarino de Mao,” “Maos siste danser”

MPAA Rating: PG for a brief violent image, some sensuality, language and incidental smoking.

Reviewed by: David Simpson
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Biography Dance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
November 4, 2009 (AFM)
August 20, 2010 (limited)
DVD: July 26, 2011
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Dancing in the Bible

POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer

Poor in the Bible

Is interracial marriage biblical?

What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring: Bruce Greenwood (Ben Stevenson), Kyle MacLachlan (Charles Foster), Joan Chen (Niang), Chi Cao (Li Cunxin—as an adult), Amanda Schull (Elizabeth Mackey), Shuangbao Wang (Dia), Chengwu Guo (Li Cunxin—as a teenager), Wen Bin Huang (Li Cunxin—as a child), Aden Young (Dilworth), Madeleine Eastoe (Lori), Camilla Vergotis (Mary McKendry), Penne Hackforth-Jones (Cynthia Dodds), Jack Thompson (Judge Woodrow Seals), more »
Director: Bruce Beresford
Producer: Celluloid Dreams, Ling Geng, Troy Lum, Sue MacKay, Jane Scott
Distributor: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

“Before you can fly you have to be free.”

Copyrighted, The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Li Cunxin is a Chinese ballet dancer who arrives in the USA on a student exchange for three months. His arrival brings new experiences, not only culturally—with seeing America and the city of Houston, but also romantically, as he falls in love with Elizabeth Mackey, a fellow dancer. As his love increases for her and with his new surroundings, his wishes to stay are put in jeopardy by strict policies communicated by the Chinese Communist Party.

Li has to fight to hold on to the things that have impacted his life the most, but is conflicted by his family back in China, who not only could face discrimination and arrest by their son’s decisions, but also the possibility of never seeing their relative again. “Mao’s Last Dancer” depicts the story of the pressures facing this young dancer, his family, his friends, and the fight to hold on to his dreams.

As far as Hollywood goes, this is a very mild movie in terms of objectionable content. Apart from the occasional language or sensuality, it is clean and provides hard and clear moral questions that can be discussed between families. To understand the situation from which Li comes, Communist China, is a detailed and somewhat complex one, but many Chinese face these decisions every day. I felt it was solid and gave a good depiction.

In summary, this is a very easy movie to review and recommend. If you have any interest in dance, international politics, China and it’s history, or even if you enjoy a good movie, then I highly recommend this PG-rated film.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This is a really good movie. It showed what people living in Communist countries have to deal with; all the lies they are fed, and the fear they live with every day. I would definitely recommend it to anyone 13 and up; younger kids would probably get bored.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)

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