before I share my thoughts of the movie, for those who haven't seen it, here's the trailer to entice you.
I watched "Mao's Last Dancer" on the plane during my trip and ... cried. based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, it's a touching tale of a young Chinese man who rises from rags to stardom as one of the world's greatest ballet dancers. there are the melodramatic aspects of the Cultural Revolution, the first love, from the standoff to defection, the painful exile and final glory of going home. putting all those complications and seemingly clichés aside, I hope people don't just dismiss this movie as another "tear-jerker" (as The New York Times critic puts it). it's blatant the performance of the dance sequences by the actors (who are actual dancers) is exceptional. any ballet lover would have known the kind of strength and dedication required to put behind such a performance is admirable. my respect to the excellent cast and dancers with their labor of love.
Chi Cao (who plays adult Li) in Don Quixote
when the intricate emotion of a Chinese during Mao's reign being sent to a foreign land, both frightening and tempting to the new experiences, could be misunderstood as "labored aphorisms" of how an innocent Chinese would predictably fell under the spell of the free capitalist America, I was disappointed at the review by the New York Times. after all, it is based on a true story and what actually happened to Li cannot be presented in any other way as it was. anyhow, there are many positive reviews of the movie opposed to the single negative one. the inner struggle and emotion endured by Li was well versed by Joan Chen (who played the mother of Li) in an interview upon reflection of her own personal experience of leaving China at a young age.
read about Li Cunxin's recount of his experience after the movie's out here: Li Cunxin
official website of Li's autobiography: Mao's Last Dancer (the book)
Chi Cao is a principal in Birmingham Royal Ballet, see his bio at: Chi Cao
be a fan, join MLD's facebook: facebook.com/maoslastdancer