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Why Disney’s Mulan Live Action Remake Just Isn’t It

The live-action remake of Mulan had hundreds if not thousands of fans excited and on the edge of their seats. It has been over 20 years since the original Mulan cartoon was released and I’m sure that within that period, all of us, including myself have missed the sassy dragon, Mushu as well as Mulan herself. Released on September 4th, the new Mulan remake is available for $30 on Disney+ and will be available for all Disney+ subscribers for free on December 2. As one of the die-hard fans of Mulan that simply leaped to watch this movie, let’s just say that it received more complaints than kudos for a variety of reasons.

To start, I won’t deny that there isn’t some political bias that comes with opposing this movie. The actress that plays Mulan, Liu Yifei, received a lot of backlash from the general public after she publicly expressed her support for the Chinese police against pro-democratic Hong Kong riots that occurred last to the beginning of this year. And because of this, many believe that there is no honor in supporting an authoritarian government and thus, started the #BoycottMulan. On top of this, after the movie came out, there was a revelation that the filming occurred in Xinjiang. To put this into context, China has been under the spotlight since it has been revealed that this communist government has been putting the Uighurs (an ethnic Muslim group in Xinjiang) into concentration camps. This did more harm than good as backlash against this film was amplified.

Additionally, Disney’s Mulan remake was supposed to be a momentous moment for Asian representation in Hollywood. Instead, Disney just placed a few Asians in front of the camera. I’m not saying that everyone behind the scenes should be Asian, but there should at least be some more Asian representation. From the director to the costume designers to the film writers, everyone behind the cameras was white. This was extremely hypocritical and baffling because originally, Director Nikki Cairo had aimed to make the movie more “authentic” and wanted it to appeal to the Chinese audience more. However, not having even a single writer of Chinese ancestry just made the whole entire movie a whole less authentic. Even aside from this, however, this movie fell a little flat for the majority of moviegoers.

For one thing, Mulan’s emotional journey and revelation of her gender is the backbone of this movie. However, in the remake, this was really just a total of six minutes, making the majority of the movie fight scenes. On top of this, this movie included absolutely no struggle for Mulan to become a good warrior in the movie. Instead, she’s absolutely excellent from the start. With some stiff and emotionless acting from Liu Yifei, the overall structure of this movie just never grew into its full potential.

However, despite the negativity, there were still some good things about Mulan. For starters, Director Cairo really captured the beautiful scenery of the forests and mountains of China. There were many grand scenes of the palaces, swordplays, and battle scenes, but this eye candy never made up for the lack of real and emotional content, leaving the audience feeling even hungrier than before.

The official poster for “Mulan,” a live-action adaptation of the classic 1998 Disney movie. Mulan was released on Sept. 4, 2020. PUBLIC DOMAIN

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