The movie will be a disappointment to true Mulan lovers, but there’s enough entertainment happening
In 1998, Disney tried something tricky - an animated musical-action movie that was big on fight scenes. The movie is "Mulan".
Based on the fictional folk heroine from the Northern and Southern dynasties era of Chinese history - Hua Mulan - the animated movie moved forward with diversity, giving a global perspective to the princess movie bracket.
The film, directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, has become a big deal and is considered to be one of the best animated movies from Disney.
The new Mulan is a sweeping action movie with lots of captivating fight scenes.
In the insidious "girl power" plot, Mulan rejects domestic tradition and disguises herself as a male to join the imperial army and fulfill her warrior spirit.
One crucial difference is that in this version of Mulan, the protagonist is a naturally gifted warrior. But in the new movie, Qi gives Mulan superhuman physical powers. Unlike the animation's average teenager, who works hard to succeed as a soldier, the new Mulan is ready made.
The film's plot orders every family to send one man to fight in the Imperial Army. To spare her aging father, Mulan steals his sword and armor and takes his place - passing herself off as a man named Hua Jun to take her father's place in the regiment.
There, she learns to fight, builds character, and befriends other men. After her gender is inadvertently revealed and she faces disgrace, Mulan chooses to fight as a girl - ultimately saving the emperor, winning honor, and becoming a hero.
The new film follows most of the original's storyline, but major elements of the cartoon have been removed, including the wise-cracking dragon guide Mushu's and Mulan's love interest - Captain Li Shang.
They have been replaced with a sister who has no purpose, a phoenix who doesn't do much but looks pretty, and two new villains.
Unfortunately, all these changes make the final product all the more unmemorable.
The way Caro sets the film's two determined, iconoclastic women in opposition to each other - both want to transcend the strictures of patriarchy, just in different ways - gives Mulan a brief charge of actual resonance.
The animated film had a solid, albeit simplistic, feminist moral. If the new film's goal was to truly update the original, then a more complex message would make sense.
However, the film itself is uncritical of the patriarchal power structure of Imperial China.
The movie's main villain is Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee), an invading warlord. Yet, he is the only person in the film to employ a woman in a position of power.
Meanwhile, the Emperor forcibly conscripts men into war and does not allow women to serve in his forces.
At no point does Mulan suggest to any character in the film that there should be changes made to the way that their society functions, even when she is in front of the Emperor.
Instead, at the end of the film, she joins the Emperor's Guard, reinforcing the fact that women have to work doubly hard to achieve the same recognition as men, and even then end up perpetuating the same old injustices.
Surely the new Mulan is stylish, colorful, and decently acted, with entertaining action sequences. Overall the movie will be a disappointment to true Mulan lovers, but there's enough entertainment happening.
Movie theaters are open in Bangladesh now and watching the new Mulan will be a pleasure on the big screen. So don't miss out on the movie's screening at Star Cineplex.