Mulan (2020)

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A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

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Quality: Very Good   Size: Small
Director :
Niki Caro

Writer :

Rick Jaffa (screenplay by), Amanda Silver (screenplay by), Elizabeth Martin (screenplay by), Lauren Hynek (screenplay by)

Actors :
Yifei Liu| Donnie Yen| Li Gong| Jet Li|

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Best Review:

The most correct decision made by the authors of the new reading of the poem about Hua Mulan is an attempt to abstract away from the original 1998 cartoon. Although the modern version of “Mulan” still adheres to the framework established by Walt Disney regarding the way directors and screenwriters should work with the familiar stories of classic animation, Nicky Caro’s movie still has ambitions to be an independent project. And if “The Lion King” by Jon Favreau, everyone scolded for copying the original frame by frame, but “Mulan” will be scolded for something else – Caro picture has nothing to do with either the animated cartoon, or with the Chinese poem about a woman who took up arms in his hands in order to go to war in place of his father.

Except that 2019’s “The Lion King” was at least a groundbreaking movie in terms of technology. The modern “Mulan Torrent” is too lacquered and sterile a movie, during the production of which the studio put its authors into such a framework, within which it was simply impossible to make something digestible. On the one hand, it was necessary to show a strong and independent heroine on the cinema screens in order to please a Western and especially active audience for social justice, and on the other hand, to try to keep something from the source material in order to please a Chinese audience, which is far from the mainstream movements of the West. This makes Hua Mulan’s story look unfinished, and the characters’ actions and deeds are far from always logical.

You could even say that the word “safety” would be synonymous with the title of the movie. Walt Disney Studios did everything in order the movie would not only be released in cinemas, but also would reach them without any scandals. And if something like that happened, the studio immediately made adjustments. For example, the kiss between a man and a woman was cut from the final version of the movie, as the studio did not want to offend the MeToo movement (it’s not a joke). And one of the central male characters was even split into two full-fledged archetypes: a strong-willed and sensible army general (Donnie Yen) and a humorous and loyal fellow warrior (Yosong An). Why? So that the protagonist’s love interest doesn’t command her (that’s not a joke again).

And in general, as far as the movie’s cast is concerned, it’s impeccable. “Mulan” is simply replete with stars of the Asian movie market of varying magnitude. There are the familiar Donnie Yen, always a pleasure to see in a big movie, and Jet Li, made up and aged, but still remembering what that dragon’s kiss is. And for a more sophisticated audience, the movie stars Gong Li as one of the antagonists, the iconic Chinese actress who won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

But one hundred percent hit is actress Liu Yifei, who played the role of Mulan. She is both familiar to Western audiences and familiar to Chinese audiences. But even leaving aside all these formalities, there is nothing to say against Ifei’s candidacy. Yifei perfectly combines a woman’s innocence, naivety and easy-going silliness with a man’s willpower, determination and belief in brotherhood. Mulan, played by Liu Yifei, turns out exactly as she was in the legend – sweet and weak in the guise of a woman and militant and dangerous in the guise of a warrior.

It is a shame that, in spite of such a successful casting, Mulan’s story is unbelievable. The movie’s script is a mess, rushing at full speed, I do not know where, I do not know why and I do not know why. It feels as if the authors were in a hurry to show everything to their viewer, being afraid to lose his attention for a second. Except that if the viewer really had something to miss, there wouldn’t be any questions. But “Mulan” is not at all a movie to be watched attentively. On the contrary, you don’t have to watch it to know how it works.

Yes, the studio did not need to reinvent the Chinese poem. But the movie clearly had ambitions to be something grandiose with an epic scope in the best tradition of Akira Kurosawa – the master of samurai epics. It is not for nothing that Mulan is full of visual references to Rashomon, Red Beard and Ran by the great Akira Kurosawa. And it is on this ground that “Mulan” disappoints the most – the movie could have been different. The massive battle scenes on paper are in fact unable to surprise anybody, no matter how professionally they are shot and what angles cameraman Mandy Walker might find, because three fundamental things spoil the movie’s visuals.

First of all, “Mulan” is too computer movie, all the movie is studded with graphics, almost every scene. And this despite the fact that the picture is enough on location shooting. Secondly, she has unbearable editing – it is torn, abrupt and overly dynamic, because of all that the viewer can hardly see anything in a succession of flashing shots in which some men with swords are running at other men with swords. And the third problem is the director of the movie. No, Nicky Caro is by no means a bad director, but just the opposite. The problem is that “Mulan” is simply not her project, it’s not her “road of flowers.

The best thing the director does in “Mulan” is work on the characters, on their chemistry and relationships. Niki Caro’s production feels at full strength during the domestic scenes, when the characters just talk heart-to-heart about life, service and their purpose — that’s what Caro knows how to do, that’s her “field.” But “Mulan” is a blockbuster in the first place, and to direct a movie in such a genre must be directed by a certain director with a certain vision. And it is with the genre basics and Nicky Caro and fails, and because of that the movie does not look as epic and grandiose as it would like and as the studio claimed.

“Mulan” is a movie that needed a visionary director. Thinking back to the studio’s previous projects, Gore Verbinski instantly comes to mind, who with his visionary vision was able to make one of the studio’s most successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchises from a mere amusement park commercial. But modern trends and the reputation for which the studio holds on with both hands did the trick in the end. That’s the way big movies are made today – a movie about a strong female character has to be made exclusively by a female director. And it doesn’t matter if she has a visionary flair or not – the main thing is to keep the feminist movements in the social networks from asking questions unnecessarily.

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