Mulan (2020) Review

A gorgeous movie… and that’s about it.


Identity Magazine

After its release in September, Mulan (2020) is available to watch on Disney+.

Allie Leatherman, Editor-In-Chief

The live action Mulan movie was even worse than I expected. Despite taking many key elements out of the original Disney film, the new movie adds nothing. 

The original animated movie, though culturally inaccurate and stereotypical at times, was a genuinely good movie with an even better message. The live-action version has neither of those qualities, and instead tells the audience that women can be just as strong and competent as men, as long as they are born with magical “chi” powers.

In addition, Disney filmed scenes for the movie near Chinese re-education camps meant to suppress Muslim minorities in China. The main actress has also stated her support for police brutality in Hong Kong in the past.

The live action Mulan movie, an adaptation to Disney’s 1998 film, was released on Disney+ on Sept. 4 for “Premium Access” viewers. It was originally supposed to come out in theaters in March, but was delayed due to Covid-19. The movie is based on Chinese folklore, “The Ballad of Mulan”.

Instead of Mulan having to work hard nd use her wit to match the other soldiers physically, this Mulan has already been given magic “chi” powers from birth. On top of this being a poor interpretation of chi, it also makes the plot that much worse.

 Chi is known as life energy, which surrounds everything. The movie presents chi as if it is something fantastical instead of something you cultivate and improve. With four non-Asian screenwriters, it’s not surprising that their interpretations are Euro-centric. Because of these “chi” powers, Mulan also no longer has to work hard during the movie; she just has to “accept” the fact that she’s a woman. Which apparently includes stripping off your armor while riding into battle.

None of the characters in this movie have a personality. Mulan shows no emotion to anything, and it’s the same for most other characters too. Her only personality trait is being a strong, independent woman. Then again she also practically begs the general to kill her once they discover she’s a woman. The writers also replaced Mulan’s grandmother with a sister who is afraid of spiders, which is her entire personality.

The movie does show beautiful landscapes unlike in many other live-action remakes, where a green screen is used instead. Many of the shots were actually shot in New Zealand though. Compared to the animated film, the live-action is bland and emotionless. It’s probably one of the better live-action remakes Disney’s made though, which isn’t saying much.

This movie took everything that was special about the original and replaced it. Even on its own, the live action has almost no strong points. The characters and plot are both severely lacking. A single song from the animated movie has more personality and likeability than this whole movie combined.