I'd read the biography that Mao's Last Dancer is based on when it came out, and forgot about it until a couple years ago when the film was showing locally in theaters with enthusiastic reviews. But I rarely go to theaters, so it wasn't until I saw the DVD in that evil purveyor of Chinese goods, Wal-Mart, at Christmas, that I picked it up. Good story about defection and courage and dedication to craft (although the fact that it was filmed in part in China with a Chinese cast and crew suggests that defection isn't what it used to be), and the film features a stunning dancer, Chi Cao, from China via Britain, in the lead role.
|Ballet, martial arts, whatever...levitation is levitation.|
At least the ballet scenes in MLD were gorgeous and featured real men, and especially the one wherein Li Cuixin's peasant father sees his son perform on stage for the first time, quite lasciviously, compared to Madame Mao's requirements, in Rite of Spring. How strange it must have been for a peasant fresh from Shandong who probably hadn't even seen Peking opera. Dad hasn't seen his son for some ten years and asks after the finale, "But why aren't you wearing any clothes?" He doesn't need to worry about that, really. Li Cuixin has since left the dance and become a stockbroker.
But I did get a little satisfaction from The Sorcerer and the White Snake, yet another retelling, with CGI, of the white snake legend, which I have enjoyed on stage in Chinese and English and in Zhang Yimou's Disney-esque light show fantasy in Hangzhou. Not from Jet Li, though, but the singer/actor who plays the doomed love interest of the White Snake, Raymond Lam, familiar to me from a few Hong Kong TV series.
|OK, back of Ray's head, but Eva Huang is lovely as the love interest too.|
|Does he look evil to you?|