Mulan really isn’t winning out on any front right now since the movie is facing an incredible amount of heat from China and from America in various ways and the sad part is that the movie was meant primarily for a Chinese audience as Meg Bucholtz of Looper alludes to. The problem is that the current status of China thanks to the coronavirus is wreaking havoc on Hollywood’s chances to court the country, which has the potential to top the US as far as audience numbers go, and of course the idea that they don’t appear to care for the representation of Hua Mulan, who is a very real character of legend and someone that is highly revered within the country. Some folks in America might not understand just why this is so but when you take a step out of your own perspective just for a moment and try to understand how another culture views their heroes and legends then it might make a little more sense. Mulan was a real character in history despite the contradictions that some might want to bring up, and as such it’s a hope that Disney would, upon going through with a less than ideal plan of making a live-action movie, pay homage to such a thing. They’ve been so careful apparently throughout the years in trying to remain culturally sensitive that the movie comes off as a bit ridiculous when watching the trailer and wondering why certain changes were made and others were instilled.
The animated version of Mulan wasn’t too popular over in China either it sounds like as the ideologies and the stereotypes that were used by Disney, who is notorious for such things no matter how careful they try to be, were not fully appreciated by the Chinese people. Frank Langfitt of The Baltimore Sun wrote a piece years ago detailing this issue. Some didn’t have much of an issue with the movie but apparently many still did and as a rule it’s a good idea not to alienate the people you’re trying to impress, which means Disney could end up taking a bath on the Mulan movie either way. Even the American audience is less than impressed, but for different reasons. Like it or not, a lot of people are pining over Mushu’s absence since the wise-talking dragon was considered to be a great part of the movie and for many kids that enjoyed it he really was considering that Eddie Murphy put in a good performance that brought a lot of comedy to the otherwise serious tale. But upon reading up on Mulan, the actual historical person, many people came to find that Disney was, as always, taking their own initiative and doing what so many filmmakers do, they were telling a tale that was based off of a real story but became it’s own epic saga that began and ended in a time frame that was agreeable to the audience. General Shang and Mushu are nowhere to be found in the live action version, but it’s still evident that there will be the use of magic and gravity-defying moves within the movie that have become something of a staple of American-made movies concerning Asian-based stories. It’s enough to make a person sigh aloud and wish that Disney would learn when to just take a break with the remakes.
Not EVERY movie needs a remake after all, especially those that might have been liked in one country but not so much another. It’s still unknown at this time if Mulan will even release in China, which means that Disney could be on the losing side of this particular deal in two countries, not just one, since the outcry in America sounds genuine enough. The only thing that might indicate that the Mouse House won’t be that bad off, despite being able to eat a loss now and again due to their overwhelming profits, is that the American audience is bound to turn out to see the movie anyway just out of sheer curiosity. This is how fickle the audience in this country is, that they’ll openly rail and rant against a change to something they don’t want to see erased but will still go and see the movie they’ve openly spoken against if only to see if it lives up to the negative hype that critics are willing to spew about it. With all respect to Mulan, the movie and the legend, this is one picture that should have been left alone since it’s stirred up more problems than was necessary upon being brought into production. How it will be received in the US is going to be interesting when the release date comes, and IF it’s released in China that could be a very interesting ordeal as well. Sometimes the legends that people revere don’t need a new look or a modern update.