Mao's Last Dancer - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mao's Last Dancer Reviews

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Chris Robinson
Deseret News, Salt Lake City
September 23, 2010
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
August 23, 2010
The story is filled with plenty of drama on its own, but director Bruce Beresford and screenwriter Jan Sardi somehow take this true story and make it feel manufactured and manipulative.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/10
Top Critic
Eric Hynes
Time Out
August 18, 2010
The performance sequences feel intimate and exhilarating -- but in the end, Li's journey is compelling only when he's onstage.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Josh Bell
Las Vegas Weekly
September 23, 2010
Whenever Beresford concerns himself with politics or, even worse, personal drama, Dancer falls limply to the ground.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Thomas Caldwell
Cinema Autopsy
August 19, 2010
[The final 20 minutes displays] truly impressive filmmaking. If only everything that preceded it wasn't so mediocre.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
August 19, 2010
The life at the movie's center speaks to what an artist sometimes gives up for art. If only we experienced that sacrifice, that turmoil, more vividly.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Mike Hale
New York Times
August 20, 2010
The final image -- a freeze frame of a pas de deux staged to resemble a triumphal Communist poster -- perfectly captures the film's overall effect: it's strenuously brainless.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press
September 3, 2010
There is some lovely ballet in Mao's Last Dancer. And it's great to see Joan Chen on-screen. And I'm out of nice things to say about the movie.
| Original Score: 1/4
Nick Schager
Lessons of Darkness
October 12, 2010
Woefully creaky and corny.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
Sarah Boslaugh
May 21, 2010
...includes all the expected elements of the heroic biopic and never foregoes an opportunity for moral and emotional uplift.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/10
Leigh Paatsch
Herald Sun (Australia)
September 30, 2009
If anything, veteran director Bruce Beresford and his screenwriter Jan Sardi (Shine) have played it too safe. Too many soft cliches obscure the hard facts of what Cunxin endured during the tumultuous time covered here.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Jason Di Rosso
MovieTime, ABC Radio National
October 1, 2009
This is a film that seems afraid to show its claws, and for me, it's a real pity.
Simon Abrams
Slant Magazine
August 30, 2010
Beresford can't even represent Li's dancing (the reason we're meant to root for this little foreigner that could in the first place) with a modicum of dynamism.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
Brian Tallerico
Movie Retriever
August 20, 2010
A well-intentioned slice of melodrama but all the good intentions in the world can't hide the film's many, many flaws.
Michelle Orange
August 18, 2010
Hyper-earnest and less than half good, Mao's Last Dancer puts a biopic gloss on a bumpy journey.
Full Review | Original Score: 6/10
Laura Clifford
Reeling Reviews
August 19, 2010's like "Farewell My Concubine" crossed with "The Year of the Yao" - but despite some really incredible dance, Li's bestselling book may be preferable to Beresford's screen adaptation.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
August 19, 2010
The most interesting elements of Li's story -- dance, politics, and the politics of dance -- have been dulled from their source material, though not beyond recognition.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 19, 2010
Bruce Beresford, the veteran director of such Oscar fare as Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy, apparently didn't know when to quit, overplaying the already hokey script at every turn. And at every pirouette and pliť.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
August 23, 2010
Recounts the true story of Chinese ballet star Li Cunxin's defection to the US in the schmaltziest TV-movie terms imaginable.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Brian Miller
Village Voice
August 17, 2010
Mao's Last Dancer means well, but it stumbles between genres.
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