“A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.”-IMDB
Let me start off by saying that I will not delve into the controversies surrounding Mulan in this post. I do suggest you read any one of the numerous articles that break those controversies down (see Vanity Fair, Vogue, Time…). I will also say that I did not purchase it myself because I felt that $30 was a bit extreme. I understand that my beloved Disney has been going through hard times, but I have a hard time believing their financial well doth run dry. So, instead, we were able to pilfer from someone we share our Disney+ account with.
Okay, enough of the housekeeping. I would say the original Mulan is within my top, let’s say seven Disney/Pixar movies (note to self: really need to solidify that list). But at this point, I’ve seen my favorite Disney movie, Lion King (tied with Moana…so I guess I do have that much of my list solidified) ruined by a remake. After that I swore I would not give my money or time to any more of these pathetic, unnecessary 90s remakes that tarnish the memory of the entire decade.
But, as I’m oft to do, I went against my better judgment and decided to watch it anyway. At this point, I have to be honest with you, dear reader. I mean, we’re close enough friends, right? Especially considering there are probably two people actually reading this and one of those people is my mother. Anyway, the truth is that I still cannot pin down how I feel about this movie. I know, it kind of contradicts the whole point of writing a movie review if the author has no clue how they actually feel about it…but, let me clarify…
Here is what is memorable about the movie: the actors, the cinematography, and the landscapes. It is a beautiful movie to look at, with vivid colors and breathtaking scenery; however, the camerawork was so intense that it was actually a bit dizzying at times. Then there are the actors, and I absolutely love who they chose for every role. I especially love that they brought the delightful Jason Scott Lee back into the Disney fold. Oh and if you don’t remember or have never seen it, the 1994 Jungle Book is on HBO Max and is still a fun watch. I thought Yifei Liu was a wonderful choice for Mulan, as she brings all of the qualities we love and appreciate in the original Mulan to this performance (I also appreciated the cameo from Ming-Na Wen, the OG).
Here is what is less than memorable about the movie: an important change in storyline and the whole point.
The important change in storyline that I’m referring to is not a spoiler, I promise. Basically, all of the abilities that Mulan possesses are due to her chi or energy force. This then allows the filmmakers to make her abilities more magical and fanciful. While I respect the change, I think it takes away from the fact that in the original movie, her skills were entirely based on talent, wits, and integrity. Having an outside force somewhat diminishes Mulan’s own natural abilities.
Now, the whole point. I’m sorry, but I can just never be sold on these remakes. I will say that Mulan was better than I expected, but I went into it expecting absolutely nothing, so it was probably going to exceed my expectations no matter what. But whenever I would hear an instrumental version of an original Mulan song playing in the background of a scene, all I wanted to do was watch the original. When they said a line directly from the original, ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS WATCH THE ORIGINAL. It is hard to ever fully give yourself over to these remakes because you’ll always be playing the original in your head.
So, is it worth one watch? Yes. Again, it’s visually beautiful and the actors do an excellent job. Are you missing out on much if you don’t watch it? No, just go watch the original and you’ll probably have made the wiser choice.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also see: Come on now, you already know…
Streaming: Available for thirty f***ing dollars on Disney+ unless you’re, like us, able steal it from someone else’s account.
With: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee
Directed By: Niki Caro