Mulan’s live-action adaptation has finally come out but with it comes the issues that the film, the production, and its main actress faced through the course of our waiting.

/ 4 September 2020

Disney releases today its highly-anticipated live adaptation of its classic cartoon movie Mulan on Disney Plus, their very own streaming platform. Following its hype after its three-time setback on which it was originally planned to release on Mar. 27 on theaters, it’s finally coming out but only with a premiere price of $30 apart from the streaming subscription.

Mulan tells the story of a girl who disguised herself as a man to take her injured father’s spot as a warrior in the battle for China. During her training, she proved herself to be a courageous warrior and played a big role in saving the emperor from the Hun Army, the nation’s biggest enemies. 

The film easily became a Disney classic for its bold feat of showing feminism through the story of Mulan’s bravery and candor to her responsibility. It breaks the patriarchal system with a woman that has fully grown herself in training to prove her dedication and will in being an active soldier in battle. Becoming one of the Disney princesses, she represents China as part of their league and was received well globally as the strong girl who defied odds and gender roles.

Because of these, high expectations followed after the announcement of its live adaptation. Mixed reactions came pouring after hearing the news because live adaptations usually recreate themes and parts of its original story to make up for a whole, new experience. It can be remembered that Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action was not well received for its unaligned casting of different races and lackluster fight scenes. In Beauty and the Beast, we only see limited characters compared to the original’s luxury of cast. Upcoming The Little Mermaid casted Halle Bailey for the lead role of Ariel and shows a deviation of skin color from its original cartoon character. So, it came with great news that the Mulan 2020 comes with a majority of Chinese actors to perfectly portray the reimagined movie.

Although people also began to question the lack of Mushu, the comic dragon of the original film, because he was a major influence to Mulan’s journey and provides comedy throughout the movie. But it’s exciting to see some of the accurate interpretation in this new film including Mulan’s dress up scene, the epic landscape and costumes that depicts Chinese influence, and the Hun Army’s wild demeanors.

But above it all, the biggest controversy it faced during its late release was the main actress, Liu Yifei’s stance on the Hong Kong police brutality. In China’s leading social media platform, Weibo, Liu shared a post from government-run Beijing news site People’s Daily with a caption from a reporter that says in Chinese text, “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” and a line in English that says “What a shame for Hong Kong.” She then added her own caption that says, “I also support Hong Kong police.”

Twitter is banned in China but the hashtag #BoycottMulan went viral. Several critics of Hong Kong’s police resistance have been flooding the internet to show injustices of their local government’s treatment of its detestors. The protests began with the draft bill that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. The bill has since been suspended but has escalated to a wider pro-democracy movement and the allegations of the police’s brutality. This was evidently caught by several netizens showing how the police uses inhumane tactics to drive the protestors away. Such acts include aiming guns on citizens, throwing tear gases and pepper balls, using chemical-laced liquid from water cannons, and thousands of arrests were conducted. The fury caused further riot and Hong Kong was left to a battlefield between the bill protestors and the police who were supposed to protect their citizens.

The support of Liu for the Hong Kong police was regarded in Weibo, which is under censorship, but the backlash on Twitter dragged the whole Mulan movie into a slump. People expressed their disappointment on what could have been projected as a successful film only because of the main actress’ political stance. People felt the credibility of the character in contrast to Liu’s support on the evident police brutality in Hong Kong and found disconnection in the portrayal of a girl who fought for her country. 

While it’s easy to discern that political stances are important for celebrities because of their influence, it also comes with responsibility and not everyone is in agreement of anyone’s opinion. In the case of Liu, the deterioration of the movie’s anticipation is an example that shows how unforgiving social media can be especially in support of an abusive movement.

Mulan will be streaming as part of the subscription plan of Disney Plus on December therefore will incur no more extra charges such as its premiere fee. However, Disney Plus is yet to officially launch in the Philippines.