Mao's Last Dancer (2009)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  1 October 2010 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 5,813 users   Metascore: 55/100
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A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (autobiography)
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A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Before You Can Fly You Have To Be Free.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for a brief violent image, some sensuality, language and incidental smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 October 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El prodigio  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$199,657 (USA) (20 August 2010)


$4,806,750 (USA) (3 December 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Joan Chen is friends with Charles Foster's wife, actress Ye Chen. They worked together in the Shanghai Film Studio. Charles Foster is portrayed in the film by Kyle MacLachlan, who previously worked with Joan Chen in Twin Peaks (1990). See more »


A scene in a bar has Cunxin talking with a friend who offers Cunxin a Pepsi. Cunxin takes a sip, then lets the straw fall into the bottle. When the shot cuts to the reverse, the straw is sticking out a long way from the bottle without being held. When the shot cuts back, the straw is down again. See more »


Li - as an adult: Big... big house, Ben. Um... you have a big family?
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Referenced in Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding (2011) See more »


Don Quixote
Written by Léon Minkus (as L. Minkus)
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Hits all the right notes!
28 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's by no means the perfect film; however, when it works, your heart will soar, and you might start believing in the magic of movies again. It's been a great year for showcasing classical music, framing it with hilarious comedy, such as "Le Concert", and now with the beauty and exuberance of ballet in "Mao's Last Dancer", a beautifully told real-life story of a man who opens his mind, heart, and see his dreams come true.

Raised in Communist China, a young man's strong and determined spirit make him climb higher and higher in the competitive world of ballet. With his true and remarkable talents, he conquers obstacle after obstacle, while being lucky enough to have some key people's love and support behind him. Still, it's not an easy journey to fame and fortune.

Somehow, his experiences in Houston are presented a little bit too sanitized, as he assimilates rather quickly into a very foreign universe for him. This is after all, Texas, and he briefly mentions to some derogatory comments, which are rather quickly brushed away by his mentor.

There are some gorgeous moments in the film, mostly involving the presentation of his astounding talents, and some emotional, climatic scenes that are bound to leave everyone in the audience misty-eyed. Bruce Beresford is back again in top form and it's very likely he will be mentioned later on in the year's award race for this is a theme he knows very well: Human spirit's indefatigable power. Be warned, this film will move you and probably lead you to believe just that.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Li is a horrible horrible person mablecheng1981
Great film apart from one terrible scene... feilidh_dwyer
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Simplistic Anti China- Western propaganda film endecottp
Bruce Greenwood's performance gwendyloo
Loved it! Meira78
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