Mulan’s new reboot might not be worth the watch and here’s why

Youtube, Disney's Mulan | Official Trailer


Disney, Identity Magazine, Fair use

The new Mulan reboot might not be worth the extra $30 charge.

Lauren Hawkinson, Staff Writer

The live-action adaptation of the original Disney movie Mulan hit screens on September 4th, but this time not on your typical movie screen.  Excited fans were able to stream it via Disney+ in early September; including an unprecedented $30 fee. The original release date of the film was March 9, but the production was halted due to COVID-19.

The infamous Chinese maiden Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei),  possesses a daring personality.  However, when Mulan is told that she fails to embody the values of an ideal Chinese girl by the town’s matchmaker (Chang Pei-pei), Mulan finds herself at a crossroads of her duties as a woman and who she wants to be: fearless. In the midst of Mulan’s internal battle, her country lies in one of its own as Rouran invaders led by Bori Kahn (Jason Scott Lee) and assisted by the witch Xian Lang (Gong Li) seize an imperial outpost.  Xian Lang poses as a surviving soldier to nudge the emperor to issue a decree to every family to present one man to fight with Khan’s army.  Imperial soldiers arrive in Mulan’s city in search to enlist men into the Imperial army. Mulan’s father Hua Zou (Tzi Ma) had been previously injured from battling in the army before, but pledges himself to fight, being the only man of the house-hold. Realizing her father is in an unstable condition, Mulan takes his armor and heads off to train and fight in his place––risking death to save her father.

Walt Disney productions took a different approach to the live-action portrayal of Mulan. Unlike the animated version, the live-action movie did not include a soundtrack. It is quite rare to find a Disney movie without a catchy tune or sing-along songs.  As an avid fan of Mulan, I was bummed about this decision due to my admiration of the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” sung by Captain Li Shang (Donny Osmond) in the original. 

“My advice to you, if you want to watch Mulan, stick to the original.  Dear Disney+, I would like my $30 back.””

— Lauren Hawkinson

The producers made very minor tweaks to the names and roles of the characters.  In the live-action movie, Mulan’s name is Hua Mulan instead of Fa Mulan. Also, the new take of the movie includes Mulan’s sister Hua Xiu (Xana Tang) who is not a character in the original.  The Huns were replaced with Bori Kahn’s invaders and Xian Lang. One of the biggest changes was leaving out Mulan’s dragon sidekick Mu Shu (Eddie Murphy). Mu Shu brought out a comedic side to the film with his own side commentary and jokes, never leaving anyone without smiling.  Needless to say, I was not impressed with the modern adaptation of the film.

Each movie scene was well-thought-out and portrayed the beauty of Chinese landscapes and architecture. However, using some of these locations resulted in a political misstep by producers. Disney productions have been taking the heat for their decision to film part of the movie in Xinjiang. The Chinese region has been accused of human rights abuses against Uighurs and predominately Muslim minorities. Currently, these minority groups are being locked up into camps as a part of government assimilation. Many of these men and women have been forced into sterilization and abortion and ordered to drink medicine to combat the coronavirus.  Authorities claim these facilities are humane while former detainees describe them as prison-like camps filled with humiliation and violence. The film-crew also scouted multiple different locations in China such as Xi’an and Dunhuang, and even Zealand.

Mulan is rated 75% on Rotten Tomatoes which I feel is quite generous. From watching the original movie and comparing it to such a monotone and controversial remake, the most I would give this film is 40%.

My advice to you, if you want to watch Mulan, stick to the original.  Dear Disney+, I would like my $30 back.