By Don Morton
Mulan Live Action Remake
September 11, 2020
There’s little I can tell you about this mega-hyped movie that you don’t already know. It is of course the latest in Disney’s misbegotten string of live-action remakes of its own, often better, animated classics.
The story, if you’ve been living under a rock, involves a plucky Chinese lass (Yifei Liu) who disguises herself as a man in order to join the Emperor’s army and fight off an evil, witch-abetted warlord. Her “disguise” is so unconvincing that it approaches that risible old Superman conceit (glasses on: Clark Kent; glasses off: Man of Steel).
This lavish, expensively mounted and somewhat overproduced retread of the 1998 animation (which I loved) has going for it — no surprise — vibrant and colorful special effects, some superbly executed chop-socky choreography, reasonably good acting by an all-Asian cast and, best of all, no songs. It’s a pity it’s not being released on the big screen, only Disney’s streaming channel. On the minus side, it sags in a few too many places, lacks real heart, isn’t all that much fun, and often drifts into Marvel superhero territory.
But it turns out that the true battle facing Mulan (the Disney product) is a political one. First, star Yifei Liu has voiced support for the police in Hong Kong, and, second, parts of the movie were filmed in China’s Xinjiang region, where the country is currently “re-educating” the Uigur people. There have been calls to boycott the film.
Bottom line: it’s a pretty good remake when compared to duds like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. But it’s hardly a must-see, and joining the boycott and never seeing it will affect your life not one bit. (115 min)