Mulan is definitely this year’s most beautiful letdown
Do not get me wrong, I mean yeah it’s technically still the best Disney remake in decades, but it’s still missing the most important aspect of any film: the much-needed heart.
To give a bit of context: I am yes, of Chinese descent (as my name implies, LOL) and this review will definitely include that “cultural bias” which to be fair is something that is truly needed when you do create movies/shows with a supposed heavy historical/cultural background.
WARNING: Spoilers Ahead (But to be honest? This is not even worth the watch!) Do not believe me? Read below!
So, How did Disney brought dishonour?
Let us break it down shall we? Oh boy, where do I begin? Let us start with how awful Mulan is depicted here. I mean, yeah they want to frame her into this amazing superhero (which is great and should be the case) but dude!
Mulan being ALL THAT
Removing that historical scenes of her actually struggling to be a warrior is just wrong! I mean how can someone (realistically) be insanely good right from the get go? I mean that from the start is a NO NO. And what is worst? Is that no one even taught her to be good! She JUST IS.
She is no longer just an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things. She is now like a regular superhero. Yeap, they just straight up gave her abilities beyond compare!
Wrong Interpretation of what “Qi” is
And how do you suppose Mulan is this extraordinary? The film just conveniently explains this up as “qi”. And in one of the new characters – Gong Li’s case, qi even allows her to literally transform into a freaking hawk. I mean, really? Am I watching Mulan or am I watching an undiscovered version of Harry Potter? LOL; isn’t that transformation called becoming an animagus?
What is totally dubious too is that this “qi” also allows her to turn into a whole flock of smaller birds and even copy (like a polyjuice potion) the likeness of people. I mean, How the fuck does “Qi” do all that?
The Disney team seriously should have picked up a book or two about what “qi” is.
Promoting Feminism, the wrong way
This is probably Disney’s worst soulless interpretation on the promotion of feminism. The use of qi in Mulan is likened with witchcraft. One big part of the newly remade script included Gong Li’s and her whole backstory.
According to the historically wrong backstory – the reason why she helps a bunch of nomadic Rouran invaders conquer China is due to her being exiled for being a qi-using witch.Witchcraft apparently in this version of old China is against the ancient Chinese law or something. And our heroine is supposedly in danger of the same fate like Gong Li if she is found out.
Now, what you need to understand is that the ancient Chinese didn’t have the same history with witches as some countries do and in actuality, the use of any form of magic in the Chinese folklore is not illegal, gendered or bad.
So it is really quite surprising and interesting to see why Disney decided to use this storyline. Did they perhaps ran out of creativity? Or did they badly want to be so relevant to the whole misogyny-against-witches thing that is widely known and regarded in the Western culture? I mean, do not get me wrong, we do have our own version of misogyny but this is just done out of poor taste.
Removing A Lot Of The Old Elements
All the heartwarming scenes (and musical performances) that we love is stripped from this remake and I do not honestly see why. They even dare to remove Reflection during her supposed “coming” as she decided to sacrifice herself for her family’s sake.
They basically tried to make a super mature version and they ended up trying so hard with the “awkward jokes” the sudden verge of camaraderie between the team oh and before I forget, the changing of the characters with the most impactful one: the removal of General Li Shang, Mulan’s first love interest in the 1998 film.
I mean c’mon, that is one of the best parts! I still do not get why they had to replace him with 3 new characters. Whatever the reason is. I so hate Disney for it.
Adding Way Too Many “New” Stuff
Perhaps, Disney forgot how simple is sometimes better. I mean, looking at all the mega battle scenes, the outrageous wardrobes and the unnecessary storylines. I just cannot help but think that perhaps Disney tried too hard.
None of the battle scenes made sense either. One good example was when Donnie Yen moved his small army out to meet the Rouran army whose way more numbers on a flat plain. Students of Chinese history might recall what happened when Yang Guozhong ordered his troops to leave the almost impregnable Tong Pass to meet An Lushan on an open field (spoiler alert: it was a Bad Idea).
They also made the fights look like re-enactments wherein the parties are practicing social distancing. Can you imagine how dumb a flanking manoeuvre looks with just half a dozen horsemen? I do now.
Now, for those saying they actually gave us some competent martial arts choreography, I’m not gonna lie, that is a complete and utter BS. If you think that this is kung fu flick; better try your luck next time as Mulan is not it either.
The fights are disappointing and unmajestic in nature; a first really. I mean Jet Li was here too! And for all the ruckus and hype they put up around Mulan’s and Gong Li’s powers, we only saw her use one particular move– it seems like she took Bruce Lee’s advice to heart and practiced that one kick 10,000 times. Presumably because it looks pretty.
Now, now I might be way too harsh, but what can I say? Disney should have made this BETTER than the first movie. With how much they are charging, it should have really been at par with the price and the hype. I mean, 30 USD is still 30 USD. I totally understand why there is a lot of backlash around this film; apart from the obvious controversy the FL is facing, the film in all its entirety is a sham.
Disney after all has the money and the resources to do so, not sure why this failed miserably. Could Disney be losing grip? Gahd, I hope not. They are one of the last few defences Hollywood has. If we lose them, what then? Will it signal an end of an era?
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