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Chinese viewers find Disney’s new ‘Mulan’ tired

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Mulan’s remake has hit all the right lines to be a hit in the key Chinese market

SEOUL, South Korea – The Mulan remake has hit all the right lines to be a hit in the key Chinese market. Disney chose beloved actor Liu Yifei as Mulan and removed a popular dragon sidekick from the animated original to cater to Chinese tastes.

Still, the film drew decidedly mixed reviews after its release delayed by coronavirus in China last week, with thousands uploading it.

The film was rated 4.9 out of 10 by over 165,000 people on Douban, a leading website for film, book and music reviews. Negative comments and jokes about the film outnumbered positive reactions on social media.

Mulan has earned around $ 23.2 million since opening last week, according to the Maoyan ticketing platform. It got a higher score of 7.5 out of 10 on Maoyan, but also with mixed reviews.

Low artistic level, poor understanding of Chinese culture has led to the failure of films in China, the state newspaper Global Times tweeted.

Chinese critics, both at home and abroad, have expressed disappointment with the inaccurate and stereotypical portrayals of Chinese history and the main character, steeped in nationalist tropes.

Others weren’t so bothered.

It’s good that different writers make up different stories, “said Zhang Qin, a military veteran, after watching the movie in Beijing last week. They can play with imaginations and that’s a good thing.

Computer engineer Zhang Fan also had some positive things to say about the film. What touched me was humanity, he said.

The remake of the popular 1998 Disney animation is based on the ancient tale of Hua Mulan, a young woman who takes her father’s place in the military by dressing as a man.

The original tale, The Ballad of Mulan, has undergone several interpretations. Themes such as filial piety and loyalty to the central government have remained core tenets, which some find outdated and problematic.

It’s a very delicate subject in modern China because many people find (filial piety) very constraining, including me, ”said Xiran Jay Zhao, the Chinese Canadian author of an upcoming book on the only female emperor in China. moral hindrance for people.

She also thinks Disney missed the opportunity to reshape the tale along feminist lines.

Even after reaching this great warrior stand, that she had to go home and then devote herself to her family and then find a husband, ”Zhao said. Of all the things in the original Ballad, is this what you choose to keep?

Critics have also pointed out inaccurate details such as the use of a Southern-style house when Mulan is likely from the north. Some called the makeup and costumes ugly and inauthentic.

UK-based Chinese fantasy writer Jeannette Ng said the film perpetuates a narrative of the predominantly Chinese Han people who assimilate and exclude minorities, including Mongols, Tibetans and Uighurs.

Mainland Chinese are not the mainland Chinese viewers of 20 years ago, she said of the lukewarm response. The culture has evolved.

His comments reflect the latest in a series of controversies that have plagued the film outside of mainland China.

The final credits of the film thank the propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, where part of it was filmed.

China has been widely criticized for detaining Uyghurs and other Muslim-majority minorities in Xinjiang as part of a campaign to quell the sometimes violent struggle against Chinese rule.

Earlier, a boycott movement was sparked after Liu, the actor who portrays Mulan, publicly supported Hong Kong police as they fought pro-democracy protesters last year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended Liu last week, calling her a modern day Mulan.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

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