The live adaptation of Disney's Mulan was out on Disney Plus and in some cinemas last September 4, 2020. It currently costs $30 on Disney Plus, but moviegoers can wait until December to get it free along with the standard subscription benefits. The movie was supposed to be released on the big screen last March, but the COVID-19 lockdown made this impossible.
The film was based on Disney's animated movie of the same name in 1998. It stars Ming-Na Wen as Mulan, Eddie Murphy as Mushu, Bradley Darryl Wong as Li Shang, and Robert Clotworthy as Hun.
Now, the live adaptation stars Yifei Liu as Mulan. She is a New York-based actress but was born in China. Life is joined by kung fu master Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, martial artist Jet Li as The Emperor, Memoirs of a Geisha actress Li Gong as Xianniang, and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story star Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan.
Most reviews agree that it was a more mature adaptation and its message of empowerment was an achievement. The impressive visuals of the movie are also setting a bar to what a Disney classic live-action adaptation should look like. The stunning sets and the amazing display of martial arts bring this movie to the top ranks of the Disney remakes. Held back by her gender, the message of empowerment, and being true to oneself encourages society to take a second look at established norms and change what must be changed.
On the other hand, this movie shows how Disney has not hit the right tune for its live-action remakes. Making the transition from 2D to 3D still fails to capture the magic of the classics somehow. In other live adaptations, some changes were made to fit the times. This does not seem to work all the time, especially with Mulan. Some say that the plot is too close to the original, and removing the singing and silliness of its predecessor made the 2020 film feel bland in comparison. Omitting aspects that made the original endearing resulted in a bad movie. There was an opportunity to tell the story of the animated classic maturely, but this latest iteration seemed to have missed the mark.
What is worse is that Mulan comes with a 30$ price, which did not help the film. There was also a backlash on Liu Yifie's questionable stance regarding the Hong Kong and China political turmoil. The actress expressed support for the Hong Kong police last year. This caused many moviegoers to threaten and boycott the Chinese heroine film. It appears the issue has resurfaced now that the epic movie is out.
On Rotten Tomatoes, film critics gave it a 78% rating with its fantastic visuals. However, the audience only gave it a 55% rating because the story lacked soul and depth. This rating is reflected in Metascore, with critics giving it a 68 while the audience only gave it a 3.2. While the film about a lady warrior made some significant dent, these were not enough to make it an enjoyable watch.