Mulan

Critics Consensus

It could have told its classic story with greater depth, but the live-action Mulan is a visual marvel that serves as a stirring update to its animated predecessor.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 284

50%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,905

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Movie Info

To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.

Cast & Crew

Donnie Yen Ji-Dan
Commander Tung
Yoson An
Chen Honghui
Ron Yuan
Sergeant Qiang
Tzi Ma
Hua Zhou
Pei-Pei Cheng
The Matchmaker
Nelson Lee
The Chancellor
Niki Caro
Director
Lauren Hynek
Screenwriter
Jason Reed
Producer
William Kong
Executive Producer
Barrie M. Osborne
Executive Producer
Mandy Walker
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Mulan

Critic Reviews for Mulan

All Critics (284) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (211) | Rotten (73)

  • I'm as athletic as a bed sock but, for so many reasons, this movie made me want to do backflips.

    September 5, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • That magic isn't present here, and the action scenes don't achieve lift-off.

    September 5, 2020 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Talking animals and slapstick silliness are very much out and stiff-lipped themes of family, duty and honour are in.

    September 5, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It might have been an excellent reinterpretation, were it not so heavy-handed and, well, Disney-fied. But what remains bears minimal discernible relationship to the original, while reading too much like a basic Marvel film.

    September 4, 2020 | Full Review…

    Nicole Clark

    Salon.com
    Top Critic
  • Apart from the lack of singing, romance, comedy and a mouthy dragon, this is just like the original. You might wonder what's left. Well, $200 million buys a lot of scenery and sets and quite a few stars. This new version has spectacle in mind.

    September 4, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's an efficient retelling of a tale about a young Chinese woman discovering her power -- affecting at times, occasionally quite lovely, but earnest, often clumsy, and notably short on joy.

    September 4, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mulan

  • Sep 06, 2020
    The new Mulan looked like something I've been begging for in this surging era of live-action Disney remakes, namely something different. I don't need inferior live-action versions to shorter animated classics, and as Disney enters into a more modern trove of remakes, the courage to adapt becomes noticeably less. There's a reason the 2019 Lion King was simply a sludgier, superfluous version that was beat-for-beat the same, and it's called $1.5 billion dollars worldwide. People want their nostalgia as they remember it, thank you very much. The Mulan remake looked to be taking a different route; it eliminated the songs, the comic relief sidekicks, and overt supernatural characters. It was going to be more serious, more mature, and more action-packed, and I was all for it. The release was pushed back several months due to COVID and finally lands on Disney+ but at an extra cost. I would advise fans to wait. This new Mulan 2020 isn't worth your time and it's certainly not worth an additional $30 to be disappointed by. Mulan (Yifei Liu) is a young maiden in old China who has trouble fitting into how society says a woman should behave. The Emperor (Jet Li) orders all families to supply one male into the royal army to combat Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and his powerful witch, Xianniang (Gong Li). Mulan takes her family armor and poses as a man to take the place of her ailing father. She wants to serve but she's also hungry for adventure, and over the course of her training, she will come to fully understand her real power. I knew within minutes that this movie was in trouble. In a flashback, we watch young Mulan chasing after a chicken, not listening to her father, causing havoc and consternation from neighbors, but then she effortlessly climbs to the roof of her neighborhood and then, as she falls off, is effortlessly able to recapture her balance and land perfectly like she was Spider-Man. From there, the first act tells us that Mulan is not just a super-powered being of high chi (think midi-chlorians and The Force) but also potentially the Chosen One (like Anakin Skywalker) and she must hide her real power to… not bring disgrace to her family? I'm sorry but this makes little sense. I understand the oppressive cultural expectations for women at this time and how women's real value, as judged by their society, was through marriage and child-rearing. However, we're now in a world of magic where living super-powered beings walk among us (mutants in X-Men), but rather than valuing this, it's shunned because she's a girl? That seems even more preposterous to me. The screenplay followed the Captain Marvel feminist theme and it's about a woman finally coming into her own power, shunning the restraints, and embracing her full potential against the wishes of frightened men. If after reading all of this that sounds like a good start for a movie, let alone a live-action remake of Mulan, then have at it, dear reader. For me, this began as a thematic and tonal mess that didn't get better. By making Mulan a super-powered being it eliminates her relatability and the stakes of the movie. She's no longer an ordinary girl who struggles to do her best. Now she's essentially a god who just has to turn on her powers and subdue easily outmatched opponents. That's a significant loss and mistake. If you were going to be a martial arts epic where characters have super powers, then be that movie and give me epic showdowns between epic warriors. Give me a heavy dose of magic realism and eye-popping imagery. Chinese cinema has plenty of examples of these kinds of movies in recent years. One needs to only start cycling through the filmography of Zhang Yimou for spellbinding supernatural martial arts epics like Hero and House of Flying Daggers and 2018's Shadow. If you're going to be a heightened world of extraordinary combat, then build your movie around that tonal decision and start from there. In Mulan 2020, people exist with amazing abilities but nobody treats this with the recognition it deserves. There appears to be a prevalent form of sexism as powerful men are seen as impressive but powerful women are seen as frightening and dangerous, often derided as witches. There was room for exploration of Gong Li's (2046, Memoirs of a Geisha) character and the parallels with Mulan, both women feared for their powers and apparent threat to a hierarchy that wants to exploit them but not include them. My girlfriend was irate throughout the viewing and pointed specifically at the witch character and declared, "They're going to give her a lame redemption story where she sacrifices herself at the end to save Mulan, and I will hate it." And boy oh boy did she hate it. Alas, Mulan 2020 cannot sustain itself as a supernatural martial arts epic. As an action spectacle, every moment is shortchanged, which is not good when you have a whopping $200 million budget. The action consists of a handful of characters, at most, and only a short display of activity. There are no strong action set pieces and well-developed sequences that keep your excitement pumping. There is some acceptable fight choreography here and there but little to tickle the imagination or approach the poetry of something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I don't know if director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, McFarland, USA) feels confident enough as an action director of big visual spectacle, and that uncertainty leaks throughout the finished film. Take for instance camera movements meant to be stylish but instead becomes perplexing. As our big bad villain and his crew ride toward the outer walls of a village, they leap from their horses and ascend the walls, and the camera shifts 90 degrees to follow the movement smoothly. That's a good stylistic choice. Then mere seconds later, as they reach the top, the camera will abruptly shift again 90 degrees, then back again, but the characters haven't shifted their stances or perspectives. Caro has taken a stylistic flourish that had meaning and seems to be hitting it again and again, but without the earlier context, it becomes confusing, arbitrary, and annoying, and it happens multiple times. Because the movie doesn't fully embrace being a martial arts spectacle, when it does employ super human tricks, it runs the risk of being goofy. Mulan has several moments where she kicks flying arrows into her foes as if she was a soccer player setting up a wicked trick shot. I welcomed a martial arts epic version of Mulan but the filmmakers were too timid to commit. There are several moments that left me scratching my head in the adaptation process. Take for instance Mulan deciding to take her father's place. In the animated film, it's a big moment and we watch her slice her hair with her ancestral sword, put on her father's armor, and it's treated like the big character-defining moment that the story demands. It's like watching a superhero transform and suit up for battle. In Mulan 2020, this moment is denied to us and we skip to her turning around already in armor and riding off. Why? Why wouldn't you want to savor and dwell in a moment of great drama and a turning point for the character? Likewise, late in the movie, once Mulan accepts her destiny and not to compromise her powers, she strips her father's armor piece by piece and flings it off herself while riding into battle. I understand the symbolism of her stripping away the uniform of entrenched masculinity but two things: wasn't this her family's armor that meant something of value, and isn't wearing armor a good defense in a battle? What's the point of removing the supernatural ancestral elements from the animated film to simply give Mulan a flying phoenix that mainly serves as a cursor to point her in the right direction? Let me open up one head-scratcher and how it could have been resolved. Mulan has a younger sister but her inclusion is practically meaningless. Mulan's parents worry about her capability of being docile and husband-material, but they have the younger sister who will serve their needs. The movie doesn't present the younger sister's perspective. She's just a bonus daughter. It's a confounding creative decision but I think, with a little more shaping, it would have justified itself. This sister could have been resentful of her big sister, for being selfish and rejecting her eldest responsibilities that would protect their family. These duties now fall onto her with the added pressure of being the only daughter who has a chance of attaining a good marriage. This could and should cause friction between the sisters, a divide that can be healed over the course of the movie. Dearly missing from Mulan 2020 is the ability of its titular heroine to share herself. She doesn't have her magic companions coaching her, so she has no audience to confide in. As a result, Mulan feels so impassive and inscrutable. My solution: she writes a series of letters to her sister to explain her actions as well as her day-to-day fears and hopes, and in doing so it opens up the Mulan character as well as provides an outlet where her sister can learn and relate to her. That would have worked, and it would have justified the younger sister in the narrative as well as provide Mulan herself with an ongoing opportunity for reflection, expression, and confession. Sadly, I also had serious reservations about lead actress Yifei Liu (The Assassins, Forbidden Kingdom) from her first moment onscreen as the adult Mulan. Her line readings were overwhelmingly flat. This may well be a byproduct of her speaking English as opposed to Chinese, and on that front, why couldn't this movie have been entirely Chinese and subtitled? I understand Disney would view a foreign language version as less profitable but if you're going for a more serious, more grown-up version of Mulan set in ancient China, how about trusting Americans to read? Regardless, Liu certainly has the right look to anchor a movie but her acting is too stilted. There are many actors who have great martial arts skills (Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee) that aren't called upon. Why hire actors with great fighting capability and then give them precious little to show off? My favorite performer in the movie was Mulan's father (Tzi Ma, The Farewell). After watching Mulan 2020, I then re-watched the 1998 animated original, and my opinion of the live-action remake sank even lower. The animated film has it beat in every measure. The mixture of drama and comedy is deft, the emotional core of the character is fierce, and the supporting characters have distinct and discernible personalities, and the songs aren't too shabby either. The villain is more menacing and has those very necessary moments to establish their villainy. The bad guys in Mulan 2020 have no memorable moments that make you go, "Oh, that's a baddie." Plus, the hand-drawn animation is beautiful and allows far more emotional expression for the characters, making it even more transporting but also engaging. If you're a fan of the original, I cannot see how you will enjoy Mulan 2020, and if you paid $30 for that opportunity, I imagine you'll be even more incensed. If it was going to be different, the new Mulan needed to fully embrace those differences and develop its new big screen story to be best suited as a martial arts epic for older viewers. If it was going to make Mulan a superhero, it needed to embrace this decision and heighten the world, mixing in fantasy foundations. The moments needed to matter and be a reflection of our heroine's emotional journey. Mulan 2020 is a frustrating disappointment and another reminder for myself that live-action Disney remakes will rarely, if ever, even come close to recreating the charm and magic of their predecessors. Nate's Grade: C
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2020
    Whether you're talking about the amazing job that Disney did in remaking The Jungle Book in live-action or how they made a very disappointing attempt at bringing Dumbo back to life, there's no denying that they aren't slowing down anytime soon. Mulan was their latest to be released earlier this year, but due to many complications, it has now premiered on Disney+. While I can't say it surpasses the animated original in any way, it's absolutely one of the better remakes they've done. I could see this reaching a wide audience over time, but with this particular release strategy, I can't see 2020s Mulan making a big enough splash. Here are my thoughts on Mulan as a whole.? Much like the original film, this rendition of Mulan follows the titular hero as she disguises herself as a man in order to join the war in place of her father. Going against traditional family and gender beliefs, she rises to the occasion and bests everyone around her. She's had training her whole life, so it comes as no surprise at all when she's able to pull off incredible feats, which I feel is the film's greatest downfall, even though it's entertaining. The emotional core is very much present, but things do feel like they're glossed over at times. With that said though, for every minor issue, there was always a positive to balance it all out. As I said, the greatest downfall is that there's not a single surprising thing to the character of Mulan this time around. On top of that, the absence of music is very much felt here, because they chose to include narration, explaining certain character's choices instead. This felt very pointless to me as it felt like it was dumbing everything down for the audience. I truly feel that these choices did hurt the film as a whole. Still, this is a very well-made movie all around.? From the score to the cinematography, this film feels epic in every sense of the word. Sadly, with it being sent to streaming, the big screen experience just won't be possible for this movie anymore. There are some massive sweeping shots that would've benefited from a giant screen, but it is what it is. For this reason, I found myself attached to the more subtle character moments, which ended up giving the movie a layer I may not have latched onto on the big screen. Maybe that's just me, but I felt the movie's weaknesses were given an accent with this watch-at-home tactic. In the end, the 2020 live-action remake of Mulan probably isn't going to have die-hard fans preferring it over the one the loved in the past, but newcomers may get a nice story to follow along with. Yifei Liu does a great job in the title role and felt like she was paying homage to the animated film while also making it her own. The original story is still present, but different, which was nice, and the epic scope is absolutely felt, making this a great movie to look at. I will say some of the creative choices/changes didn't quite work for me, but it's still a very enjoyable movie overall. I'd say give it a watch, especially for families.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2020
    Falls squarely in the mid-tier of the live-action Disney remakes.
    Bradley J Super Reviewer

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