A Review of the New Mulan Movie

Movies N' More

November 6, 2020

We all know and love the original Disney animated Mulan, which featured some of the  best original songs to ever hit the platform. This September, Disney+ came out with a live action Mulan, starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, and more. It was directed by Niki Caro, and has a run time of one hour and 55 minutes. 


The movie begins in Imperial China, with a young Hua Mulan running across the rooftops mischievously. In this scene, she displays a new concept to the story;she uses something called Chi. Chi is described as the force energy, or yin and yang. It’s seen as completely natural energy, not supernatural power. The movie’s display of this idea was not a big hit in China; in fact, many people released statements about the movie shaming it, and disgracing it. 


Another large change from the animation, to live action, were the characters. Mushu, the dragon, was taken out and replaced by a phoenix who acts as a guide for Mulan. This wasn’t their finest move, as Mushu provided comical relief to the movie, and gave it an upbeat tone. Another character that didn’t make it to on-screen adaptation is Li Shang, who was Mulan’s love interest. They released a statement saying it was about the “#MeToo movement,” and that they didn’t feel it was appropriate to add a male love interest. 


Three other characters that I think were adapted badly are Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po. In the original, these three are Mulan’s friends in the army. Instead of being her friend in the on-screen version, they often end up criticising her, and underestimating her. The last character I’d like to talk about is Mulan’s sister. Mulan now has a sister, named Hua Xiu, who was added in to give Mulan more emotional depth, and reason to fight. That would’ve been a great concept to toy around with, if she had gotten more than ten minutes on screen. 


Now to talk about the actual controversies over the movie (they’re pretty big). There was a lot of criticism because the production team was composed of mostly white people, taking positions as the director, screenwriter, costume designer, and more. The director of the film, Niki Caro, responded in an interview with ‘The Hollywood Reporter.’  She stated, “Although it’s a critically important Chinese story and it’s set in Chinese culture and history, there is another culture at play here, which is the culture of Disney, and that the director, whoever they were, needed to be able to handle both — and here I am.” You can see why most people didn’t exactly like her response, and she got a lot of backlash after her statement, which discredited asian directors. There was also a lot of argument about the place of filming in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is known to hold internment camps with up to a million ethnically Turkic people. If you don’t know, internment camps are also known as ‘re education camps;’ yeah…horrifying. The last, and most current controversy of the movie, was a comment made by Yifei Liu, who plays the role of Mulan. Liu reshared an image posted by ‘People’s Daily’ that included a quote saying, “I support Hong Kong police. You can beat me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” Many people accused Liu of supporting police brutality in Hong Kong. 


My overall review of this movie was that I didn’t enjoy it. It was very dull, and lifeless, I found it boring, and hard to sit through. The execution of the new ideas, such as Chi, the phoenix, and more, wasn’t well thought out. The controversies surrounding the movie didn’t sit right with me, and made it hard to look at it the same way. This movie definitely wasn’t to my taste, but you can buy it on Disney+ or on blu-ray and DVD, if it’s to your liking.

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