Review: Mulan (2020)

 Be a man.

When her ailing father is called to war in China to fight invaders, Mulan (Yifei Liu) disguises herself as a man to fight in his place in the Imperial Army. Lucky for Mulan, her Chi has always been strong, but she's also been told to hide it because she is a woman.

Mulan is the only Disney live action movie I was looking forward to. I even welcomed the change in story from the Disney cartoon. I knew they were going to stick closer to the true story, and when Disney+ announced that you could buy Mulan for $30.00 to stream at home, I *almost* did it. I would've paid more for my family of three to go to the theater anyways. Then the reviews came out so I held off. Now, it's available for free on the platform, and I can say with 100% certainty that I am glad I didn't pay that fee to watch.

I wanted to like this so badly, and there are parts that I do. The costumes are beautiful, there's something wonderful about seeing a young woman be so badass, but I felt like this movie had no heart. Mulan (1998) I'd argue is one of the best Disney movies ever made. She works hard, she has a group of friends that learn to respect her and in a moment of truly poetic cinema, they disguise themselves as women to infiltrate the Emperor's castle like Mulan had to disguise herself to join the army. I loved that. But Mulan 2020 has none of those moments.

OP Chi Mulan is a strange choice. It removes half of the struggles she had joining the army, and really became more about her hiding her identity, and deciding when to show her comrades that she is in fact a super hero. Another baffling choice is a witch (Li Gong) who fights in the enemy camp. Because of her extraordinary powers, which include doing nearly all the hard work, she's shunned. She at one point tells the main villain, Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee) she could kill him instantly, then when she's given the opportunity and motive to do so, she sacrifices herself instead. I know the answer to all of these "why's" is "the patriarchy" but it makes for slightly frustrating storytelling.

I don't think this is a terrible movie by any means, I think my expectations were just too high considering how much I loved the animated version. 

Recommended: Only if you already have Disney+

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I believe Hua Mulan" - Honghui (Yoson An)

10 comments:

  1. You know, I know the story but I've never seen the animated version of Mulan. Perhaps I should watch this first and the animated version after.

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    1. If you've never seen either, that's probably the way to go. Then you don't compare mentally like I did.

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  2. A week or 2 ago, I was at a Barnes & Noble doing some Xmas shopping and I found the DVD for the live action film and it cost $30. I was like... "the fuck?" I got the Dark Knight Trilogy on DVD for $25 not counting the extra 10% discount I have as a member.

    I don't think I want to see this as I just can't see Gong Li be wasted in a mediocre film.

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    1. I wouldn't pay $30.00 any any DVDs, let alone this one that's free on Disney+. Why lol

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    2. How about a Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray box set for $30 depending on the filmmaker or films?

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    3. I've never actually taken the plunge and purchased a Criterion DVD. Some day, maybe.

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  3. I think I liked it more because I have not seen the original. Which proves my point on why I've ignored every other live remake... besides Cinderella which is always amazing.
    Plus this year we haven't had any movies so it's hard for me to hate on the new releases it seems :D

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    1. I don't think it's a terrible movie, it just really lacks the hard the animated version has and I couldn't get passed that. Bums me out because I was looking forward to a new take, but I expected it to still have the same emotional impact.

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  4. The original Mulan was my favourite film as a child and it watching this one just was dreadful.

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  5. It really was. I was open to something different but this just wasn't it.

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