Mulan Doesn’t Deserve All This Hate – A Review Of Disney’s Live Action Mulan From A Fan Of Asian Cinema

Mulan has been under fire from all side. Whether it’s angry members of the LGBT community, or political backlash, it’s fair to say things did not go as Disney may have planned with their latest Live Action Release.

I wanted to watch it myself. I had feared it may get pulled off the site due to political pressure. Can we just leave politics aside and enjoy this for what it is, a work of fiction that may or may not be based on a historical figure. There’s still debate if Mulan was in fact a real person, or just a legend.

Anyways, I just finished watching the film. Credits are rolling right now. I remember years ago that Disney had released some early casting and plans of this Live Action and came under criticism for White Washing the Live Action as they had White Washed the Cartoon version, by casting largely white actors.

That’s definitely not the case here. While the script was written and directed by some white people, all of the actors were asian.

With that said however…. As I am a HUUUUGE fan of Asian cinema, be it Korean Dramas, Japanese Dramas, Chinese Dramas, Taiwanese Drama, or good ole Japanese Animation (I also love a few select Chinese animation films too such as Chinese Ghost Story and Big Fish and Begonia and there was one about a little boy – or was it a girl blinded by a fire I can’t recall the name of that cartoon at the moment and google is not being of any help – They were orphans saved by a buddhist temple… Anyways that’s neither here nor there… All I’m trying to say is I REALLY LOVE asian films – so how then did Mulan stack up to other films in this category ?(I’m not an expert by any means since I myself am white. I’m just an adoring fan of this type of Asian cinema.)

Here’s what I think. Mulan is a fun film, but lacks the heart of what makes most Asian films so intriguing. I may have shed a tear or two when her father was preparing for battle. But a real Asian drama written and directed by Asians would have me bawling my eyes out. I cry when watching KDrama until I am hyperventilating and can’t breathe.

Their way of story telling…. it’s so different…. Disney should have hired a famous or well known asian director and asian screenplay writer.

But they did not.

So here is what the white folks came up with, as white folks often do (I’m white myself so I can say that lol) – They came up with a great action movie, with amazing visuals and stunning cinnematics. The action in this movie is over the top. And I can clearly see where their 40 million dollar budget went to.

I liked the film. And I will defend it against all the really really bad press it’s been getting. I am happy I watched it. My fiance who is hispanic, and has absolutely no interest in asian cinema also enjoyed the movie, he was super into all of the action.

I liked the film. I would watch it again. But I did not LOVE the film. It fell short of my expectations because of the way it told the story. It had TOO much action and not enough heart. It jumped around and moved very quickly from scene to scene with battle after battle, but little time for any character interaction. There is character development and growth, sure, but only in that of Mulan herself, and at the end, in the Witch who realizes she and Mulan are so alike.

It is a fast paced action movie with amazing visuals and stunning fight scenes. The action is reminiscent of crouching tiger hidden dragon.

It is also a very violent film. Although it does not show blood, it shows a lot of death.

Actually many of the fighting scenes reminded me a lot of Princess Mononoke, a Japanese anime. In that film, the main character also rides horse back (or deer back or antelope back or whatever the heck that creature was lol) while firing arrows and seeming to never miss his target, while performing acrobatics while on the back of a fast moving animal, while his targets are also generally also on equally fast moving animals.

In one scene in Mulan, her opponent does a complete back flip up and out of the saddle and somehow perfectly nails his landing to fire back an arrow or spear towards Mulan. In another scene, Mulan herself jumps up into the air off of her horse, does kinda a half back flip almost, until the tip of her shoe catches an arrow or spear and sends it sailing downwards back to her opponent. In several scenes, Mulan is a downright contortionist who can bend her body like water, backwards, sideways, all angles, to avoid the onslaught of arrows around her.

My fiance really loved the action scenes, and kept saying how great the movie was. I enjoyed the action scenes, sure. They were impressive. But I was hoping for a tiny bit more story at least? lol.

I feel like if it had a good director experienced with asian cinema and some good screenplay writers, we would have had a much more balanced movie, with still lots of good action, but some more story too.

But my criticism aside, my critique of the movie is in no way to say it was an awful film. Like I said, I would and probably will eventually watch it again.

The critics of this film are being too harsh. Especially the LGBT community. I hate to break it to you folks, Mulan is not a gay, transexual, or transgendered, and if you think she is, well you’re missing the whole damn point of the movie. That’s not what Mulan is about. Here’s what Mulan is REALLY about. She was possibly a real historical figure, although there is some debate that she might just be a very popular urban legend in Chinese culture/mythology. The legend of Mulan goes like this…. A great war was sweeping the land. The emperor called upon every household to send one male member into battle. Mulan’s father only had 2 daughters. Mulan’s father himself had fought in numerous other battles, and even had a sword from the emperor himself as a gift and recognition of his service. But now her father was very old, very weak, very sick, with numerous injuries from previous wars. He was in no condition to fight. And if he had gone to war he surely would never return back to his family. Her father was not afraid. It would be a great honor for him, and for his family, to die in battle, as a war hero. However, Mulan could not bear the thought of losing her father. So Mulan steals her father’s sword and sneaks out of her village to join the emperor’s army in her father’s place. She was the first woman to ever be in the imperial guard. For months she fought alongside the men, and eventually proved herself to be such a powerful warrior, that she was given the opportunity to lead the troops into battle at the front of enemy lines. She had to live with and hide from all the men. She cut her hair, taped down her breasts. She avoided as much as she could to be seen by the men. She had to act like a man when she was around men. But it was not because she was gay or transgendered. It was because if she was found to have lied about her identity, the punishment was death or exile. Not only would this be dishonor for her, but for her entire family. She was trying to “save face” a very asian thing that we see in a lot of asian films. So no sorry LGBT community but your hatred of this film is really deranged and misguided and misplaced. She is not some champion of LGBT, instead, Mulan is simply a brave and loving daughter who wanted to protect her father.

If you’re going to hate the film, hate it for it’s jumping plot or lack of much narrative, hate it for its lack of emotion. But don’t hate it because you’re angry Mulan is not gay or transgendered. For that is not the point of the story. Be it this Disney-fied version, or the original legend. She was never gay or transgendered.

Let’s just appreciate that a woman was brave enough to go to battle for her father. That she was strong enough to fight alongside, and later even lead men, into battle, and that even after discovering that she was a woman, the emperor honored her with a sword like her father’s and offered her a place in the imperial guard. This is no small accomplishment. Let’s praise Mulan for what she REALLY was, a brave, wonderful, daughter, who loved her family so much that she was willing to die for them.

Also sorry angry political peeps. The world does not revolve around democracy. There is some outrage and trying to boycott of this film because the actress who plays Mulan supports her country’s police and government. That’s really none of your business what her political beliefs or background is.

The film is supposed to be based on ancient ancient ancient Chinese culture from thousands of years ago. It depicts Chinese culture as it was, and in some ways, yes as it still is today. Chinese culture is VERY different from western culture.

That’s one thing I really hate about my own country United States, why do we try to CRAM democracy down people’s throats. Leave them alone. If their government is working for them, leave them be. It is not our JOB to spread democracy across the world. There are many other valid forms of government. Not everyone agrees on the same political views. Get over it.

PS remember it’s just a movie. But the people BEHIND the characters in this movie are real people. They have life experiences, cultures, and beliefs that may be different from yours, and they have opinions, and they should not feel shame. They can voice their opinions if they want.

To think that in a country, United States, where we SUPPOSEDLY have freedom of speech, they want to ban this movie, because of the actresses comments is sickening and frightening. Is this the red scare again? I mean who cares if she is communist, leave her and the film alone. Not everyone wants or needs democracy. United States should be watching out and concerned about United States. We got enough damn problems right here. Especially in 2020. There’s bigger things to raise pitchforks over than a damn Disney movie.

That’s all I will say. Mulan was a decent movie. You’ll like it if you like action movies. If you’re like me and used to watching a lot of Asian Dramas and expecting better plot and better character development you might feel disappointed. If you’re an LGBT member or political fanatic you’ll be angry at this movie. That’s pretty much it. If you don’t care that Mulan isn’t gay or trans, and you don’t really care what other countries are doing with their own governments, then go ahead and watch this film. It’s not that terrible. I have no idea why these people are so damn outraged over a fictional disney film. Watch it if you want, if not move on, and find something more important to be angry about lol.