Mulan: A Dumpster Fire of a Film

Mulan star Liu Yifei at the 2016 BAZAAR Stars’ Charity Night on Sept. 9th, 2016. (Wikimedia Commons)

On Sept. 4th, 2020, Disney released the live-action Mulan film; however, it was not the release that fans were hoping for. With a hefty viewing price of 30 dollars on top of a Disney+ subscription, actors that support Hong Kong’s police brutality, problematic filming, subpar acting and special effects, as well as the lack of music from the original movie and the popular character Mushu, fans were severely let down by the film. 

Before COVID-19 shut down movie theaters, film-lovers would expect to spend around 10 dollars on a ticket to see a movie. With the pandemic causing the closure of all theaters, Disney had to find a way to release the movie while also producing some form of profit. What they decided was to charge 30 dollars for a “Premier Release” of the movie on top of the six dollars and 99 cents they charge per month as a service subscription. That comes to a total of about 38 dollars: way more than you would pay for a theater ticket or even a DVD. Many fans decided to wait on watching the film as it is just too expensive.

Price is not the only issue that people had with Mulan. Lead actress Liu Yifei expressed her support of the Hong Kong police and endorsed their brutality. In August 2019, she posted on Weibo, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” These statements led fans to call for a boycott of the movie.

Another concern that people have with the film’s production involves where parts of it were shot and who exactly was thanked in the end credits. Although most of the movie was filmed in New Zealand, there were scenes shot in China. Filming in China requires government permission, and it’s standard protocol to thank those governments that allowed filming in the credits. In the credits, the Xinjiang government’s publicity department and the Public Security and Tourism bureaus for Turpan were given gratitude. Turpan is a city just outside of Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, and the city’s Public Security and Tourism bureaus have been listed by the U.S as having been involved in human rights violations and abuses, especially towards Muslims. Beijing has stated that this treatment of Muslims is necessary in order to fight extremism and terrorism. They claim to be within their jurisdiction and the law. The media has recently brought to light the horrific treatment of Muslims in camps that were being touted as job-training centers. Documents and testimonies were leaked, broadcasting the abuse. Overlooking the wrongdoings being actively committed by the Chinese government and thanking them for their cooperation on Mulan, Disney angered many fans. After all, Muslims being abused in concentration camps is not a minor issue. 

On top of all of the human rights-related issues, the live-action Mulan film is actually… kind of awful. With an audience score of 51 percent according to Rotten Tomatoes, it’s obvious that fans were far from pleased with the movie. With high expectations due to Disney’s past live-action releases, fans were justified in expecting something that would blow them away. Even the first five minutes of the film are a giveaway that the movie to follow would be disappointing. The acting is far from satisfactory and the special effects are—to be frank—terrible. Movie watchers see a young Mulan do a flip off a building within the opening scene that is completely unrealistic. In addition to the subpar acting and effects, fans were sad to see a lack of musical numbers and the absence of Mushu from the original animated Mulan. Although Disney had previously announced that the film would be more heavily based upon the original story of Mulan derived from China, this did not stop fans from being disappointed and upset, considering all of the other live-action remakes were full of song and dance. The movie truly left a lot to be desired.

Mulan was an absolute disappointment to Disney lovers everywhere. With the box office earnings coming in at over 100 million dollars less than the budget, it’s obvious that the film was a failure. Although everyone is upset over this garbage fire of a movie, at least Disney will not profit too much on a movie condoning Chinese concentration camps.