Mulan 2020: Yes, It’s Worse than You Ever Expected.
I’m sure you’ve all heard by now: The 2020 live-action Mulan is BAD. And by BAD, we mean an absolute waste of money with no redeeming factor whatsoever kinda BAD.
I thought I learned how bad it was after watching this amazing analysis by Accented Cinema, but nope! I was absolutely unprepared for how AWFUL it really is. I thought my husband and I would enjoy thrashing the movie, but it’s not even entertaining to tear apart. It just made me so MAD.
Here are a bunch of thoughts, comments, and screenshots from the absolute WORST live-action remake Disney has churned out thus far.
Is this a 200 million dollar film, or a cheap cable TV flick?
That entire starting sequence with baby Mulan chasing a chicken to exhibit her Superpowered Qi was so tacky and poorly-executed that it felt like a cheapo cable TV movie I’d catch while randomly channel surfing back in the early 2000s.
Also, that little compound they live in is from the wrong region of China. Mulan is a northern China legend/story. This housing is from wayyyy down south. For more on what this movie gets wrong from a cultural and historical perspective, check out this amazing video by AvenueX.
I have no words for this clownery during the matchmaking scene.
Emotions? Good acting? What are those?
There is absolutely no heart, no feeling, no emotions in this movie. The most poignant scenes—like the part where she steals her father’s armor—had absolutely no dramatic impact.
The cast’s acting and line delivery was also horrendously awful, and it’s most likely because most of them aren’t even native English speakers. Check out Dr. Jon Tam’s take on this in his Mulan review. I completely agree with him when he says :”…when you have someone speaking in another language, their personality changes. … the more fluent you are, the more you are able to express yourself. But if you look at those actors, none of them are actually native speakers. So everything becomes very scripted and regimented.”
“BUT EL,” I hear you cry, “Memoirs of a Geisha was in English! And Gong Li was amazing in it!” Yes, and I absolutely agree. I love Gong Li as Hatsumomo. BUT DEAR READER, the writing and the dialogue for that movie was beautifully and thoughtfully crafted, and she probably directed really well. Which brings me to my next point….
Gong Li was absolutely wasted on this film.
Gong Li is an amazing actress. She is wasted on this trash.
Even the legendary Donnie Yen could not save this film.
Seeing him for the first time gave me a glimmer of hope that I would at least be entertained by his character. I was not.
I wish I had some nice things to say about the visuals.
I don’t. Some scenes look ridiculously fake, like the characters were just Photoshopped on top of the background, or we were watching a stage play instead of a $200M film.
Also a lot of stage plays have way, way better set designs.
That fucking phoenix.
Is absolutely useless. If you’re going to take out a character as great and vital to the story as Mushu, at least replace him with someone of equal value. The phoenix adds no value to the story whatsoever.
And no, a cheap trick ripped off from Game of Thrones is not enough to justify the fucking phoenix.
And you do realize that the Game of Thrones finale is also an awful piece of trash, yes? Trash + trash doesn’t cancel each other out, it just makes a bigger pile of trash.
The battle and fight sequences are terrible.
Search any video review that criticizes this movie, and they will tell you how BAD the editing is, especially for the fight scenes. Everything cuts too quick, and the fight choreography is so awful you won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Also, doesn’t commanding the “left flank” to CHARGE mean the entire chunk of your army on the left will rush forward? Not a tiny-ass squad? I dunno, I’m not an army commander, but this confused me so much.
And why, WHY would you let your hair down in the middle of a melee?
So Mulan’s big gender reveal moment comes in the form of her stripping off and carelessly throwing away her father’s armor, and letting her hair down. Fine, let’s say we can justify her removing her armor so she can be lighter on her feet and more flexible. BUT WHY LET YOUR HAIR DOWN? It’ll just get in your face, or give your enemy even more ways to grabyou (painfully, I might add).
In conclusion: I just can’t with this movie.
Beyond screaming DISHONOR ON YOU, DISHONOR ON YOUR COW, I think this still of Mushu captures my feelings very well:
There’s so much Disney could have done better, but I hope they learn from this absolute travesty of a movie. Mulan 1998 had a beautiful story/message, and didn’t care about trying to please everyone in telling it. Mulan 2020 tried to please everyone, and ended up pleasing no one. If they were truly sincere in trying to make the movie more relatable and culturally accurate, the least they could have done was have more actual Chinese staff behind it—you know, people who are actually of that culture and have been immersed in it all their lives—versus a bunch of non-Chinese folk whose only knowledge of the culture comes from an extended field trip. They ended up just cherry-picking things that they felt they could adapt for Western audiences without fully understanding a thing, so the entire film (from the story, dialogue and fight choreography down to costume design and key concepts about Chinese values and Qi) comes off as haphazard, shallow, and just downright insulting.
If you haven’t seen it: Don’t bother. Boycott it if you can, or just bootleg if you’re absolutely curious or just want to criticize it yourself. This movie is an absolute waste of time, effort, and money for everyone.
El Santos is a marketing & advertising professional by day and gamer/bookworm/tarot reader by night. She’s prone to sudden fits of fangirling over her varied interests: video games, fiction, art, folkore, anime, and tarot. She currently lives with her husband and 2 rescue cats.