‘Mulan’ live action falls flat

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Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As someone who loved the animated “Mulan” movie growing up, I was really excited for the live-action remake, especially after hearing that it would be more authentic to the legend of Mulan. Delays caused by COVID-19 only made me anticipate it more as a way to shine some light in what were pretty dark times. However, as with most Disney remakes, there was nothing very special about the movie, which just ends in disappointment for the whole audience.

In an attempt to make the story unique, Disney added new characters, as well as minor changes to the plot. When trying to squeeze in all of this content, the plot feels rushed, and the characters have no depth. It’s difficult to actually root for Mulan, since she barely experiences any conflict in the story with other characters. The dialogue was also very poorly written, and had me cringing for most of the film. A war movie with such immature writing took away any emotional impact the film could have potentially brought.

On top of all of these mistakes, Disney completely misses the empowering message for female viewers. The animated movie shows Mulan proving to the army that women can fight just as well as men. However, in the live-action version, Mulan is simply skilled, even respected by the army, only because of her powers. Mulan does not prove that she is equal to men, only that she is the exception, which really disappointed me.

There are also major ethical issues with the movie that made Asian audiences upset before the movie was even released. Firstly, the actors have all publicly shown support for Hong Kong police, who were repeatedly shown to exercise brutality on protesters. This outspoken support for the police drove a trend of boycotting the live-action film as a way to show disapproval toward the cast. Secondly, aside from an Asian cast, there is a stunningly white production crew. When only the people reciting lines are Asian in what is supposed to be a more culturally authentic movie, there is plenty of room for westernization in the story. Another huge problem with the movie is the location. The cast and crew filmed the movie in New Zealand and, more importantly, Xinjiang, the location of several Muslim Uyghur internment centers. The news of this outraged many potential fans, and also contributed to a boycott on the movie. 

Whether you want to show your disapproval of what happens behind the scenes, or just want to avoid wasting your time, I would not recommend watching the live-action “Mulan.” Although the writers made some brave choices, they were not loyal to the original plot, or true to the legend of Hua Mulan.