This will be my 1st review and I would like to thank my friend Chuka for suggesting the idea. Honestly, as a child, I loved the 1998 Disney animated version of Mulan. I can still recite the whole movie from top to bottom. I loved the songs, the work they put in behind the scenes, the actors & the characters. And most of all, I loved the moral of the story: No Matter Who Or What You Are, You Can Achieve A Lot With Hardwork, Dedication & Love. The 2020 version had NONE of this. They changed so much in an attempt to placate one target audience that they ended up losing the attention of a lot others. I was going to do a scene by scene breakdown initially, but I changed my mind because of 2 reasons:
1. The movie’s still in cinemas, so it wouldn’t be fair to spoil it for the people that haven’t seen it.
2. There’s so much wrong with a lot of the scenes that if I did a scene by scene byblow, we’d be here for forever.
So instead, I decided to narrow down this review to 5 main points of contingency for your reading pleasure.
1. DIFFERENT STORYLINE & MORALS
If you don’t remember the original Mulan animation, it’s basically about an AVERAGE Chinese girl who pretends to be a man in order to take her sick father’s place in the army. At least the live action got that right. The problem is, they gave her SUPERPOWERS! aka ‘CHI’. Chi is basically your life-force. Everyone has Chi. But in the movie, they insinuated that only a selection group of people can harness their Chi, making Mulan not a relatable character, but one who uses her supernatural powers to achieve her goals. So the rest of us without Chi are supposed to do what nko? I mean I get that Disney tried to make this movie historically accurate. E.g. they replaced The Huns (the villians) with Nomads. But then, they added a WITCH……Why? Why? You can’t have it both ways. Either make it historically accurate & keep it realistic OR go with the fantasy route & keep the plot similar to that of the animation. Like cool parts of the animation, where she ingeniously uses a scarf to climb a pillar with her friends to save the emperor, they removed it! Even the iconic moment where she cuts her hair to further her male transformation (which apparently was historically inaccurate but I loved it still) was removed. In the live action, all she does is walk out of her family house in the calmest manner I’ve ever seen, no emotion at all. The only time Aunty Mulan gets emotional in this film is when she starts throwing off her father’s expensive armour to whip her hair like L’Oréal model & ride into an ACTIVE BATTLEFIELD DEFENCELESS. I just tire.
2. LACKLUSTRE FIGHT SCENES
Now let me say, for the live action, the cinematography was beautiful. The camera angles and general aesthetics? beautiful. However! The fight scenes were rubbish! Lord, they were so long & so boring that I almost wished I could skip past it. There was no emotion behind any of the fight scenes, and because of this, I did not feel a damn thing for any of the characters at any point in time. I dare you to watch this movie & relate to me the main fight sequence later on. The only 2 things I remember were the scenes where she ran sideways on a wall & when she somersaulted on top of her horse to kick a spear (because aunty had to showcase her swagilicious Chi, instead of flattening herself to her horse like a normal person). The thing that pains me is that they had Donnie Yen & Jet Li! 2 martial art legends! Granted that Jet Li didn’t want his skills digitised, so they gave him this low-key kung fu, bedsheet scene. But they did Donnie Yen dirty. The cameraman couldn’t even keep up with his moves. In fact, I would have paid good money to see him demolish everyone Ip Man style, instead of watching Aunty Mulan fly around the set.
3. NO SONGS & COMEDY
This movie wasn’t funny. I’m sorry, it just wasn’t. The original animation was funny as hell, due in part to well timed one liners from Eddie Murphy and the rest of the cast. The comedy & songs kept you invested in the characters, because throughout the animation, you kept forgetting that most of these males called to war were either too young or inexperienced when it came to real battle. There’s a scene where they were singing about the type of girls they liked & the song abruptly cut off as they reached a field strewn with dead bodies mutilated by The Huns. When I tell you that I CRIED when General Shang’s father was found dead. HOWEVER! THERE WAS NONE OF THAT IN THE LIVE ACTION! They removed the songs (they kept the songs for that weird Lion King remake, but they removed this one. Nonsense), replaced all the funny characters (next point) & just made everything too serious for no reason. There were times where they tried to be funny, but the jokes fell flat. Have you ever been to a Nigerian theatre & NOT ONE PERSON WAS LAUGHING OR CRACKING JOKES? Nna, e ahock me. We could have been watching a documentary instead of a Disney film for all the reaction the audience gave.
4. CHARACTER ISSUES
This one hurts the most. They took some of the best (AND I MEAN THE VERY BEST!) characters & turned them into something unrecognisable. They turned Mushu (Mulan’s small, ancestral dragon protector) into a random phoenix. They turned Cricket (an ACTUAL cricket & Mushu’s sidekick) into a lame soldier we don’t care about. General Shang, who ended up becoming Mulan’s HUSBAND in the animation sequel, they demoted him from a General to a foot soldier, & a badly dressed one at that. Worst of all, they replaced Grandma! GRANDMA! GRANDMA WAS A REAL G! HOW DARE YOU REPLACE HER WITH SOME TOKEN SISTER CHARACTER! The sister doesn’t even appear for most of the movie! All you know about her character is that she’s obedient & she doesn’t like spiders. Even the actors who played the characters didn’t escape this injustice. Come see shock when I found out The Emperor was played by Jet Li. They made him look so unrecognisable, My Lord. The Sacrilege!
5. NO ROMANCE
This point is kind of ironic for me because I tend to avoid or block out any form of romantic affiliation in movies. But like I said, I loved Mulan & I loved her love story with General Shang. It’s probably one of the few non-toxic relationships I still stan to this day & I was so happy when they got married in the sequel. But what did they do in the live action? Demoted my guy to a foot soldier, only to let him get FRIEND-ZONED!! BY HIS WIFE!! FOR WHAT REASON?! Then they tried to placate us by making homeboy take off his shirt to showcase his washboard abs (it worked to an extent sha. Not going to lie, the actor is fine). I assume that China has certain restrictions when it comes to acting out love scenes in movies, but a small kiss wouldn’t have hurt anyone na. I did not pay good money to watch this film only to see HANDSHAKE at the end!
In conclusion, I would still give this movie a 6/10 because irregardless of everything, it kept me entertained enough to finish the film. Till our next review.
THANKS FOR READING!!
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