Mediocre Mulan

The live-action remake isn’t living up to the hype


Courtesy of The Movie Spoiler

While the movie is still watchable, the live-action adaptation of Mulan has a lot of aspects in which the movie could’ve been better. It is still a good family movie to watch, but don’t expect it to live up to the original because your expectations will be ruined. 3/5

Dominic Humm, Staff Reporter

As the saying goes, remakes are never as good as the original. The live-action remake of Mulan is no exception. What could’ve been a significant movie for our generation, ended up being another average, cliche kids’ film. The Disney live-action adaptation of Mulan, directed by Niki Caro, is a mediocre movie compared to the original.

Just like the animated version, the remake follows a young woman named Mulan (Liu Yifei) who, to save her ailing father, disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in the imperial army. As she goes on this mission, she has her own overarching journey, traveling through her individuality and figuring out her self-identity as a strong, fearless woman. 

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is entertaining. It is action-packed and full of combat. From the beginning, there are stunts and action. It stays true to the original in the fact that it revolves around ancient Chinese culture and the gender roles of that culture. These elements play a big role in the story, especially in Mulan’s journey to find herself. With that being said, it differs from the original in its plot and characters which makes it hard for those connected to the first one to enjoy this adaptation.

From the start of the movie, it was easy to tell that there were going to be some major changes in the plot which can sometimes be a good thing. But in this case, it wasn’t. One of the enormous changes in the plot is that Mulan doesn’t begin as a regular woman who is an untrained and uncoordinated fighter. She is a warrior with powerful chi (strong energy, or life force), and instead of her training to become a better fighter, she tries to hide her chi from the other men to not be discovered as a female. This change harms the plot because it makes the character less relatable. Another change in the plot is that Mulan doesn’t fall in love with anyone. Other than those changes, the plot stays true to the original story. 

The characters are where the movie makes the biggest changes, and this is where the motion picture drops in success for me. A lot of big characters are removed from the film and the relationships between characters are changed. General Li Shang is split into two characters in the live remake. Even the characters’ names are changed. For example, in the original Mulan’s full name was Fa Mulan. In the new one, it is changed to Hua Mulan. Mushu is completely removed from the remake. He is replaced by a red Phoenix bird, but the bird plays as a symbol for Mulan and has no lines in the film. These changes make it harder for those who loved the original so much to truly enjoy the remake. 

The setting is the only part of the adaptation that stays true to the original. It takes place in imperial China and revolves around ancient Chinese culture. They use this setting and culture to create the plot. Ancient Chinese culture was big on gender roles. Men were soldiers, builders and protectors. Women were there to please the men. This plays a substantial part in the storyline of Mulan breaking the mold for women, finding her self-identity along the way.

The movie just came out last week, but it’s not getting the love that it was expected to get. It only has a 5.4/10 on IMDb and it only has a 67% approval rate on Metacritic. Those numbers might not seem terrible, but for the hype the movie had before, it’s falling short. While it’s not terrible, there’s a lot of spots where the film could improve. I felt a feeling of disappointment when the movie ended. My expectations for it weren’t met. I would still recommend it, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting more from the movie.