Mulan(2020) Movie Review

A live action remake of Mulan(1998) was recently released. This live action movie, Mulan(2020), was based off of the originally animated Disney film. It was directed by Niki Caro, who is best known for her work on Whale Rider(2002), The Zookeper’s Wife(2017), McFarland USA(2015), and many more movies.  

The beginning of the movie was introduced by a narrator as a tale. Starting as a tale, to me, seemed like an intriguing and exciting way to start. Mulan’s adventurous and capable personality was also shown in the very beginning of the movie. Crystal Rao, who portrayed young Mulan, did a very effective job of showing Mulan’s “un-ladylike” personality. 

The scenery portrayed in the movie was very mesmerizing. Although Mushu was not shown in this remake, a phoenix who seemed to guide Mulan throughout the movie was shown; I think this was a creative replacement for the dragon. Like the animated version of Mulan, the movie revolves around action–these scenes are very frequent, so it keeps you entertained. However, the characters did somewhat stray from the original. A new female character, Xianniang, was introduced along with Mulan’s sister. Xianniang was a witch who assisted the original enemy and, personally, Xianniang quickly became a favorite of mine due to her character development.  Xianniang would enchant others with a mystical energy called chi, and seemed to carry a pitiful past with her. The strength of chi was applied throughout the movie, which was a great way to adjust to the changes from the animated version. Both Mulan and Xianniang carried chi, which would help enhance their physical abilities. 

The message portrayed in the animated version was still included in the remake: Stand up for what you believe in. The acting in the remake was somewhat exaggerated in some action parts, but overall, you could see more emotion which made the film and its message more impactful.

The movie was also not as musical as its animated counterpart Mulan (1998). The tune from “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You”  played in the background of one of the film’s scenes that reflected the song’s message of toughening up the warriors. It should also be noted that in the animated version, Li Shang was a commanding general, but in this remake, he was portrayed as a warrior who was training alongside Mulan. 

There was one notable scene that was very impactful with regards to the movie’s overall message. In this scene, Mulan realized that she should not have to hide her identity, and pretend she’s somebody that she is not in order to stand on equal footing with the other warriors. Following that realization, Mulan’s hair, which was previously tied in a bun, loosened and began to flow with her movements. Although this may seem insignificant, it really got the message across that she accepted who she was despite all the pressure around her urging her to conform. Throughout the scene, the memorable tune of “Reflections” played in the background.

Additionally, Mulan’s intelligence and strength, which was famously portrayed in the animated version, was also accurately portrayed in this remake. 

If you are fine with a couple of scenes depicting war, I would definitely recommend watching this movie on your own or with family and friends.