Mulan (2020) (Film Review)

Shelby Hutchinson gives an overview as to how the live-action version of ‘Mulan’ failed to surpass its popular animated predecessor.

When I had first viewed the trailer for Mulan (2020), I was intrigued by the approach that Disney had decided to take with the story. I thought it was going to be an authentic representation of Chinese culture, a realistic view of the war, and a more sombre angle of a young Chinese woman’s journey to bring honour to her family.

The remake concerned people when it was revealed there would be no music and no Mushu (the loveable guardian dragon from the original film). However, I held onto hope the movie would shine through this. Little did we know how meagre these concerns turned out to be when the remake premiered early September.

If you’ve been on social media, then you’d already be aware of the amount of controversy surrounds this film. Most of the filming had taken place in the Xinjiang region, where, to this day has, contains a network of detention centres put in place by the Chinese Government. The majority of those who inhabit the camps are a Muslim minority native to Xinjiang, known as the Uighur people, who are sent there for forced assimilation under the guise of ‘re-education’. The conditions at these camps are that of a prison, punishing and disciplining inmates who misbehave, and only allowing release once they prove they have been truly ‘transformed.’

To make matters worse, a security company involved in a number of human rights abuses at the Xinjiang detention centres, the Turpan Municipality Public Security Bureau, was acknowledged and thanked in the credits for assisting the making of the film.

What really brought these issues to light was the lead actress, Liu Yifei, who released a statement on the blogging site Weibo in support of police in Hong Kong, who have been known to use excessive and brutal force in controlling Hong Kong protestors. This contrasted negatively with her role as Hua Mulan, who fights against her oppressors in the same way the Hong Kong protesters have been doing.

With all of these issues being resurfaced with the release of the film, people have decided to boycott the movie with a #BoycottMulan movement happening across social media. Others have decided to try and separate the art from the artist to form their own judgments on the film itself.

In my opinion, this remake pales in comparison to the original film. What you’ll find is a lukewarm, soulless adaptation where nothing new benefits the story in any way. Even if you choose to separate the remake from the original – as well as the unforgivable, awful decisions behind the scenes, and the morals of its very own lead actress – the movie is ‘okay’ at its very best.

By now the movie has made over $30 million, however in comparison to the $200 million it cost to make, that’s a lot of money for a Disney film to have missed out on. But, at the end of the day, Disney left $35 sized holes in the bank accounts of those who still gave the movie a chance to be better than the sum of its parts, including me.

NB: This opinion piece is the opinion of the individual author and not the opinion of Yak Media.

Feature Image: Photo by Kon Karampelas via Unsplash, no changes made. 

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