Disney’s live action reboot of Mulan has been an unmitigated disaster from jump street.
A film that spent 10 years in development hell only to finally get green lit and sold as an attempted cash grab of the communist Chinese government has been a story far better than anything in film itself has to offer.
Disney made no bones in Mulan’s production that this film was created to pander to the Chinese market as much as possible. Awarded with a 200 million budget, Disney hoped that China would return their investment in full. Mulan took no shortcut to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were pleased with every aspect of the film. This was NOT a film made for western audiences, this was all for China.
The concessions Disney made for China included adding themes that were friendly to Chinese History, elements such as on screen romances were censored at the Government’s request, Disney even went as far to film a majority of the film in the city of Uyghurs which is currently under fire for running Muslim concentration camps full of hard labor and torture. Disney even thanked the city in it’s end credits.
This is how far Disney was willingly to go to get that Chinese money, so what happened next was karma. The Chinese Coronavirus spread worldwide from its origin in Wuhan effectively shutting down movie theaters all over the planet. The virus has cost Hollywood billions of dollars and Disney is one of the hardest hit studios.
Mulan was originally scheduled for a November 2, 2018 release but was delayed in favor of reshoots and CCP approval. Then the coronavirus outbreak shut down theaters delaying the release of the film 4 times in 6 months. The final straw came when Chinese citizens waged a boycott of the film due to lead actress Liu Yifei’s past comments in which she supported Communist China’s crackdown on demonstrators in the Hong Kong conflict.
It became clear that Disney was not going to get their money back from China like they had hoped. In an attempt to save face, Disney crawled back to Western audiences and offered the long delayed film on their streaming service Disney Plus for a one time payment of $29.99. Every minute there is a sucker born and if you spent $30 on this, you are the sucker.
Mulan as a live action remake of the 1998 animated film that drastically changes major details of the original. Set in rural imperial China, Mulan is an adventurous young girl who is already awesome at everything but even she can’t overcome her parent’s disappointment of not being married. However, when the reality of war comes to Mulan’s doorstep, she realizes that her father could not survive the fight, so she decides to take his place but little do the boys know, she is the bravest soldier of them all and the best fighter in the whole squad (actual quote). Mulan could have won this entire war herself if it wasn’t for her archenemy…another woman.
Mulan is a boring two hour love letter to the Communist party of China injected with some poor Disney feminist storytelling. Much like Rey from Star Wars, Disney Mary Sues the shit outta Mulan taking away all points of emotion and empathy you had from the original cartoon. Mulan does not grow over the course of her adventure because she is already great at everything from the start. There are no obstacles to overcome because she already overcame them before the opening credits.
The feminist message of women are awesome and only have the potential to be even better creates a boring soulless protagonist with no stakes to invest your interest in.
Many will praise the film for its visual look and technical aspects but given it’s quarter of a billion dollar budget, having something good to look at would seem like the bare minimum of achievements. The dialogue is rotten even for a Disney movie, the acting is poor because they opted to go with authentic Chinese actors over…good actors. Disney could have gotten away with it’s Chinese cash grab if it was mediocre but there is nothing positive to praise about this film.
A film that was never made for Western audiences now expects a western bailout from a massive financial failure. Audiences are better off treating Mulan (2020) like the Chinese treat Hong Kong protesters.