I’m sure there were others at the time, but to me it very much feels like Mulan was the first high profile casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mentioned in my March review of System Crasher that I had expected to be watching Disney’s big new remake on that weekend, but here we finally are six months later! I might be back in the cinema now, but Disney+ was chosen as the home for this long awaited picture. As I pressed play, I hoped beyond hope that the wait was going to be worth it.
As I am sure we all know, Mulan tells the story of Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei), a young woman who disguises herself as a male soldier to take the place of her ageing, injured father (Tzi Ma) after the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree to defend the country from Northern invaders.
I won’t beat around the bush, guys. The wait was not worth it. I’m not going to hide the fact that I am a huge fan of the 1998 animated version, so a lot of this review is going to be a comparative exercise between the two, but even as a stand alone feature, Mulan is an incredible disappointment. Let’s start with the comparisons, shall we? I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single important beat of this story was executed better twenty-two years ago. Moments like Mulan’s decision to transform herself, the iconic training montage, the final battle, each and every one is a pale imitation of what we saw in animated form in 1998. I’ve really thought about it, and this isn’t nostalgia talking, it’s just plain facts.