Disney’s new live-action remake of the 1998 classic ‘Mulan’, premiered on Monday, March 9, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Although rumors of cancelation surrounded the premiere amid fears of the new coronavirus, it went ahead as planned. While it was organized in all its extravagance as a regular movie premiere or opening night would be, the staff at Dolby Theatre took extra precautions to assure a successful evening.
After the film’s first public screening, plenty of reactions poured in. Besides the stars of the movie, the premiere hosted critics, movie buffs and journalists, many of which gave it positive reactions and critical reception on social media.
‘Mulan’ is the story of a valiant young Chinese woman, Hua Mulan, who makes a warrior out of herself. When trouble beckons and puts her kingdom at stake, the king summons a man from every household for compulsory military service. Mulan takes her father’s place in the army by disguising herself as a man and seeks to win the war waged against her kingdom.
The film stars Yifei Liu as the protagonist Mulan. Directed by Niki Caro, the film also features Donnie Yen (Commander Tung), Jason Scott Lee (Bori Khan), Yoson An (Chen Honghui), Utkarsh Ambudkar (Skatch), Ron Yuan (Sergeant Qiang), Rosalind Chao (Hua Li), Tzi Ma (Hua Zhou), Nelson Lee (The Chancellor), Chum Ehelepola (The Matchmaker), Gong Li (Xian Lang), Jet Li (The Emperor), and Cheng Pei-Pei (Ramtish).
Reviews from critics sing praises of the live-action movie. Michael Lee, a member of the Hollywood Critics Association said “#Mulan is one of the best live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic. It honors the 1998 film and the ballad by modernizing themes of female empowerment and iconic scenes, while also standing out w/ great cinematography & battle sequences are reminiscent of Wuxia epics.”
“I’m very surprised at how much I liked the live-action #Mulan movie. It’s so majestic, the action is thrilling, it aims for a level of sophistication and beauty you don’t expect. (I was never a huge fan of the animated film, I think I’ve only seen it once. So no attachments)”, tweeted Peter Sciretta of Slash Film.
“I’ve seen MULAN twice now and I must say it is great. Easily Disney’s best live-action reboot. I think it’s also Disney’s first battle epic? It is beautiful & absorbing & rich & empowering. The cast is excellent and Niki Caro’s direction is just breathtaking,” Kevin Polowy, a Yahoo Entertainment host, commented.
Amid the appreciation and applause came the backlash, mostly targeted towards the film’s cast. Social media slammed Yifei Liu and Donnie Yen for being public supporters of the police brutality in Hong Kong and the totalitarian regime, refuting democracy and freedom.
In August 2019, Liu shared a Weibo post from a Beijing-based government news publication and captioned it in Chinese, saying “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.”
Similarly, Donnie Yen has also publically expressed his political leaning with a pro-Beijing stance. Clearly, what they stand for goes against the substance that ‘Mulan’ is built upon.
Sub-quoting a video that shows the violence meted against the public in Hong Kong, China, by the police, a user addressed Liu in a tweet: “@crystaliuyifei this evil thing is what you supporting. You are not a good role model for acting as ‘Mulan’. Shame on @DisneysMulan for casting this actress, who supported violence and abusive. #BoycottMulan #DisneyMulan #LiuYifei #coronavirus #WuhanVirus #hongkongpolicebrutality”
“#Disney, this is the red carpet in #HongKong citizen #LiuYifei is an advocate of #HKPoliceBrutality, is the red carpet you should NOT forget if you are planning to watch #Mulan #BoycottMulan”, tweets a user with an attached picture of a floor streaked with blood.
“That’s the bloody red ‘carpet’ in Hong Kong. Remember watching #Mulan is sponsoring more brutality by #HKPolice and #CCP on people under their assaults and murders” says another user in response to the gory picture.
Replying to a supportive comment tweeted by singer, Hayley Kiyoko, a user commented “Wish I can be so openly excited for this. ‘Mulan’ is my favorite animated Disney film as a kid. Hard to be excited when the actress openly supports the HK police. I live in a country that’s experienced how China bullies smaller countries. I don’t have the luxury of separating the 2.”
“How can you support #HKPoliceBrutality? ‘Nothing is impossible’. Before you buy that ticket to see #Mulan, remember that lead actress #Liuyifei publicly supports police brutality, a #HumanRightsViolation Stand with human rights, #BoycottMulan!” quipped another.