Stellar Visuals and Plot, Dishonored Filming Insensitivity

2020 Mulan’s upstir of controversy ruining the riveting live-action movie



Mulan in the middle of a battle between the Hans and soldiers.

Disney’s lovable classic, Mulan, finally made its way into the endless realm of live-action remakes, like that of many other Disney animated films in recent years. Mulan, as featured in the 1998 version, is still portrayed in the 2020 film as the fearless woman warrior who demolishes barriers to bring honor to her family. Audiences, although upset about the film being different from the original one, are yet to unveil the new adaptation of the film.

Mulan’s live-action was announced by Walt Disney Pictures back in 2015 and set to have been released in November of 2018. However, due to some delays the movie was pushed back. This resulted in the movie release date to March 24, 2020, but then COVID-19 triumphed and pushed it even further into September 4, 2020 onto the Disney+ platform. They added a year and a half of more filming time to make this film more warrior style and ancient China style which really paid off but ended in audiences across the country devastated in the filming locations used.

Mulan alongside soldiers of her troop getting ready for an intense battle. (Disney)

I personally loved the plot of the story because it was something fresh and well needed in modern society. Obviously, it was not like the adored animated version where Mushu is the star comedical character and Mulan falls in love with a super talented general, which is super cliche (he fell in love with the fabricated image of Mulan, not her true self). This movie is about Mulan breaking the social norms such as domesticity and little to no parental support which is clearly shown through human emotions. Although no one wants her to continue fighting, she persists and takes her dad’s role in the army like that of the 1998 version. She is all alone in this journey with the help of a spiritual phoenix who partially guides her through her journey. There is more respect in the army such as her not falling in love with the general and leaves the audience with a little bit of a wonder if she had a love interest with a man in the movie, which I really liked. The movie drastically features what it would be like in the army in Ancient China and the emotions such as pain and exhaustion are clearly shown on the actors faces. Overall it shows that women are able to be independent and strong without the help of a man which is empowering compared to today’s ideology of a prince charming.

Mulan rushing to save the Emperor from the Hans malicious intentions. (Disney)
Summer Palace resembles some of the structure as shown in Mulan. (Jasmine Aguilar)










I had the opportunity to go to China in 2019, and visited well-recognized tourist destinations such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Ningbo, Mulan’s landscapes rang golden bells to me. Building structures such as the Great Wall of China is a well known icon, which makes a small debut in the movie. Not only that, but they also brought the idea of the Great Wall’s defense system into villages such as using the wall as protection just like they would in ancient times. The small village where Mulan lives is pretty close in detail of how ancient China would’ve been, a tight-knit community. There is a lot of color and the natural scenery of China is beautifully shown through each scene. The sounds of chitter chatter among the people of the town, the sale of homemade products, everything needed to portray a self-produced village. The details put into this movie were beyond the walls but there is a chance they showed a little bit too much of China.

Xiahang concentration camp holding hostage people due to vocational education and training. (BBC)

Days before the release of Mulan on Disney+, social issues arose. Disney was exposed through social media that they were filming in Xiahang where China is being accused of human rights abuse. In the credits, Disney simply gave thanks to Northwest China rather than Xiahang where one million people are being detained. There have been reports of China purposefully building concentration camps in recent years and stating they are necessary to combat terrorism. This is not the case though because Muslim Uyghurs tend to be a main target, they make up the majority of those detained. Survivors from the camp live to tell the story, they have seen inmates indoctrinated, brutally punished/raped, caged up, and the Uyghur women to be sterilized/on contraceptives.

Niki Caro is being attacked by followers for her post showing a section of northwestern China where concentration camps are taking place. (Niki Caro’s instagram)

Due to the light of these events, the Mulan actress, Liu Yufei and the film director, Niki Caro also came under fire. Although Yufei was born in China, the actress turned down Hong Kong protesters. As for the director, Caro posted on her instagram pictures of the places where the film took place ending with infuriated comments about the concentration camps. This resulted in the massive boycott on social media about the movie causing it to lose 4.72 millions of dollars.

The price for the movie is something people should take into consideration. Mulan is a movie aimed for little kids’ reimagination of what Mulan would look like in person versus animation. This for a five person family to take an evening outing would cost them around a good $40 not counting the concessions. That is above the $30 payment from Disney+. With the film available from home, a family is not only able to have their individual family join but maybe another family join either through a watch party or in-person(with proper COVID-19 measures) and split it half and half. It’s an enjoyable family activity and safer way to watch during these amid times.

Whether you have bought the movie when it premiered or are waiting for the movie to be free for all Disney+ subscribers on December 4th, it’s crucial to appreciate the effort and art Disney has placed into this movie but also not to relentlessly ignore the controversy behind this movie.

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