‘Mulan’ provides genuine entertainment

Grab some popcorn and take a seat. A badly needed little ray of sunshine in our lives comes courtesy of Disney’s Mulan mess. Rarely has Hollywood provided the public with so much amusement for a production budget of just US$200 million. 

First, it has been a magnet for nitpickers. Various pedants have whined that the thing is not historically accurate – in real life the heroine would have been Mongol or Turkic rather than a patriotic Han (though being a legendary figure, she was actually none of these). Another set of bores complain that none of the scriptwriting committee were Chinese ‘or Asian’ – so are obviously deficient in ancient Oriental wisdom and cultural sensitivities and nuances needed for a kung fu movie for kids. (Disney did, however, share the script with Chinese censors.)

Then the real fun starts. 

A global pandemic shut down the entire planet’s cinemas.

Then gorgeous pouting starlet Liu Yifei (a Mainlander with – obviously – a US passport) prompted calls for a boycott of the movie after voicing support for the HK Police. Co-star Donnie Yen, a Hongkonger, also called protesters terrorists.

Now, alert movie-watchers have noticed that the film was shot in scenic wonders not far from detention camps in Xinjiang, and that in the credits Disney thanks the friendly and helpful Public Security Bureau in Turpan – the authorities accused of various genocide-type human-rights abuses. The boycott campaign suddenly gets much bigger.

At least Mainlanders will line up to see it, right? Maybe not. The SCMP says it’s likely to bomb in China – and who are we to doubt Jack Ma’s organ? Apparently, the film is hackneyed and has weak characters (unlike every other Hollywood movie of the last 50 years). And in an insult to Chinese culture, it treats qi as magic (at least Disney got the science right).

The virus outbreak is obviously unfortunate timing. But then so is the whole project.

I would guess that from initial brainstorming concept to release, a blockbuster takes, what – four or five years to make? So when Disney set out on rehashing its (reportedly fun) animated Mulan as a live-action special-effects extravaganza, China was still the hip and trendy, warm and cuddly emerging superpower we all fondly recall. Studio execs would have safely assumed that wowing Western audiences with a picture calculated to shoe-shine Beijing would have been politically (notwithstanding commercially) feasible.  

Instead, under Xi Jinping, China’s international standing has turned sour thanks to trade, tech, heavy-handed influence operations, wolf-warrior diplomats, Hong Kong, Indian border, Australia, Trump, South China Sea, kidnapped Canadians – and of course, the Uighur oppression. The backlash over the latter now extending to cotton and tomatoes. CCP influence over Hollywood has itself become an issue.

The moral of Mulan is that corporate kowtowing to Beijing has gone from being smart to dumb in less time than it takes to make a movie.

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16 Responses to ‘Mulan’ provides genuine entertainment

  1. George Orwell's ghost says:

    News from elsewhere in the region. At least Hong Kong is not tracking the movements of everyone 24/7 like our neighbour is starting to do


  2. Toph says:

    I am given to understand the movie is “historically inaccurate” in the way it would be if powdered wigs, Victorian steamships, Roman chariots, Viking helmets and Elizabethan ruffs all showed up together the same movie for no reason at all. This would make a few filmgoers twitchy even if the story in question were King Arthur.

    Though that is still the smallest possible bone you could pick with a movie filmed in the vicinity of an actual genocide.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    But has the film hurt the feelings of the Chinese People yet??

    Are the online patriots going to make the starlet’s nationality (of convenience) an issue? I hope so. Hope she gets audited by the local and American tax bureaus as well regarding her worldwide income.

  4. Pander Detector says:

    OT but I love how our Theresa Cheng “justice” boss wrote in the SCMP that everyone who asserts judicial independence in HK is Pathetic.

    It’s like a kidnap victim miming “help me” from a passing car.

    Desperate and not in control of her destination.

    By letting that line slip into the first para she lets us all know it’s a dictation job.

    Poor CCP sock puppet. Those needle sharp panda paws shoved right up her wherever must hurt bad.

    Thanks Theresa. Noted. Hope Otto manages to get his billions out.

  5. dimuendo says:

    Pander Detector

    No sympathy for Theresa or Carrie.
    There is a reason each was nominated /chosen and neither of them was strong enough to say no.
    As for Otto, why hope a plutocrat can get his money out?

  6. Stephen says:

    @Pander Detector

    It is Teresa who is pathetic.

    Pathetic that she tried to quit and stay in London (UK passport ?) and that the CCP whisked her back to China. Pathetic that she has no credibility and was solely handpicked to do the CCP’s bidding. Now, despite Otto’s millions, retirement is restricted to the glorious motherland.

  7. Conference says:

    Kidnapped Indeed. This was months and months ago but has there been any other coverage, or does anyone recall what was the actual story, regarding the Chief Justice’s disappearance for 2 weeks after she was allegedly attacked by protesters in London and injured, and then turns up in Hong Kong on a flight originating from Beijing?

    In what other places would such a high ranking government official disappear for 2 weeks, with no answers, and the press seemingly uninterested in finding answers?

    Just curious.

  8. where's my jet plane says:

    If there are any media types reading here please can I make a plea for an effort for you all to get some perspective on the Covid panic at various press conferences/briefings.
    The missing figures are: the number of patients actually being treated in hospital; how many patients are in intensive care; how many of the alleged infections are now regarded as cured; how many all-causes deaths are there per day; how many of the supposed Covid deaths were with out other co-morbities.
    That deaths/day figure I tried to get from the CDC, result a rather snotty we have no idea and if we did we won’t tell you.

  9. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Methinks that this is the perfect time to view Season 23/Episode 2 of the animated programme South Park, (episode entitled “Band in China”).

    I first viewed that episode when it aired in early October, 2019, and I knew that it was not only accurate in its depictions, but that it was prescient. And here we are.

    Will we still have legal access to that episode in 2021?

  10. where's my jet plane says:

    @ Conference
    A technicality; the PoS Theresa Cheng is not Chief Justice – that’s Geoffrey Ma’s job (for now). She’s allegedly Secretary for Justice (so-called).

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Hibernian: that South Park episode was classic in so many ways. More so to those that have experienced the “China Dream” first hand. Yes, I’m sure it’ll never air in HK in any form ever again. Get your VPNs, boys…

  12. Gromit says:

    @Pander Detector, would you mind putting a link up for that article? I had a quick look at the clunky Self Censored Morning Post website but couldn’t find it.

  13. Epimenides Cheng says... says:

    “One must not lose sight of the fact that we are not looking at something in the abstract but at the constitutional structure of the Hong Kong SAR. An analysis of the constitutional order must not be based on what anyone has said or desired, but what is set out in the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law.”

    This Quote is hilariously followed by her ignoring her own warning and basing her analysis of the constitutional order on a paragraph of what Montesquieu said about it, and a paragraph of what Locke and MJC Vile said about it. Then a paragraph about what the US Constitution says about it. And a para on how the UK does it.

    She then skips over analysing the Basic Law spewing out some article numbers which turn out to be mostly irrelevant, with not a mention of article 85 “The courts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. Members of the judiciary shall be immune from legal action in the performance of their judicial functions.”

    Possibly she’s sticking to the lower numbers because 85 is dangerously close to article 87 where the Basic Law rather explicitly points out that the new NSL violates the Basic Law rendering it pretty much unconstitutional (if rule of law existed in Hong Kong. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t).

    The take away from Teresa Cheng’s article seems to be that on constitutional matters, even the Secretary of Justice herself thinks it’s best practice to completely ignore the Secretary of Justice’s advice.

  14. Din Gao says:

    @Where’s My Jet Plane? In the Australian desert?

    Public Hospitals Daily Update for 10 Set 20 via GIS:

    “The missing figures are: the number of patients actually being treated in hospital; 193 confirmed cases

    how many patients are in intensive care; 21 critical, 8 serious

    how many of the alleged infections are now regarded as cured; 4,582 discharged

    how many all-causes deaths are there per day; dunno. Total SARS-CoV-2 is 99

    how many of the supposed Covid deaths were with out other co-morbities.” dunno

  15. where's my jet plane says:

    @ Din Gao
    If only I were with it…
    Thanks for that info, I now have the link – 190 active cases today, a major panic.

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