By now a lot of people should know that China didn’t really take to Disney’s animated version of Mulan when it came out years ago. There are a lot of reasons why to be certain. Not only did Disney get the legend of Mulan wrong, which is astounding since there’s enough history and literature on the character to have gotten it right, but they Americanized the movie in a way that was cute and entertained a lot of people but at the same time kind of trounced all over Chinese culture in a way that we, as Americans, would find absolutely offensive if another country had the gall to do it our legends and culture. The difference there of course is that American culture is a seriously mixed bag of different cultures that have come together over the years to create something that is not beholden to much of anything but can’t be called a distinct culture all on its own given that it’s taken from so many different cultures throughout generations of growth. In other words, Mulan was not handled well, and it could be why Disney has done their research and managed to do just a little better on the movies that came after.
What’s really funny about the live action version that’s bound to be coming out eventually is that despite the fact that they’re getting rid of the songs, Mushu, and a few other things that people really cared about, they’re also adding in the wire-work and CGI that will continue to entertain the crowds while focusing on various portions of the story in a much more realistic manner. Some might have thought that this would be less than appealing to Americans, but already the feeling is that Mulan will be seen as one of the best live action movies that Disney has ever put out, kind of like the last few have been since they’ve been making money hand over fist. Lady and the Tramp wasn’t quite the money-maker that the other movies were as it didn’t appear on the big screen but was instead released on Disney+, while Dumbo wasn’t exactly a big deal to a lot of people, but Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin were considered triumphs despite the fact that they too Americanized a lot of the story and kept things the way they were from the animated versions for the most part. But Mulan is apparently going more for realism than anything despite the effects that are being put in, and the fact that magic is still very much being used. Kind of funny how that happens, isn’t it? Samuel Edwards of Inc. has more to say on the subject in his own words.
Thankfully the bad guys no longer look like the Hulk gang from Old Man Logan with elongated canines and claws on their fingers. They still look fearsome, but nothing like the animated movie and definitely not as though they could palm someone’s head like a basketball. It was easy enough to like the animated movie since Eddie Murphy was such a kick, and a lot of kids didn’t bother thinking about the fact that the stereotypes being used were anything but amusing since as a children’s movie the death, horror of war, and the trauma that would have come after was something to be sad about until it was time for Mulan’s moment in the sun, or snow in this case, since the video is quite right, she racked up a body count that would make Rambo proud given that her avalanche wiped out most of the army that was marching on China. Without going into the whole idea of figuring out just what her actual body count was though, it’s important to think that the real Mulan wasn’t a bloodthirsty or careless warrior that took life without thinking. She was instead a very well-renowned figure that the Chinese people revered and still do in many ways as her legend was an inspiration to many and still to this day. While the animated movie was something that Americans enjoyed it’s not too hard to see just why it didn’t take quite as well in China, as some of the material used in the movie had a way of downplaying the importance of Chinese culture. Fei Wang of Medium has a few things to say in her own voice about Mulan and Disney’s current attempt.
The hope of course is that the live action movie will give a great deal more respect to the story than the animated movie did, though with Disney it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen since it’s apparently been respectful to some cultures and yet hasn’t shown the same regard to others throughout the years. This time around though the Chinese market is the one that’s being targeted in a big way since Hollywood not only needs the box office numbers to rise in a big way, but will absolutely need them to in order to counter the effects of the current shutdown.