KEY POINTS

  • "Mulan" only made $38.5 million in China
  • The live-action movie also received poor reviews on Douban  
  • "Mulan" lead star Liu Yifei was criticized after airing her support for Hong Kong police

"Mulan" did not perform well in China despite Disney's effort to bend over backward and deliver a live-action version that would appeal to Chinese viewers.

The live-action "Mulan" was poorly received in the country by making only $38.5 million, less than a tenth of the $437 million projected cumulative for the Chinese war movie "The Eight Hundred." It also received poor reviews and  an overall rating of 4.9 out of 10 on popular user review site Douban, Variety reported.

Chinese viewers were not satisfied with the film, terming it as "inauthentic" and some even considered it to be the "worst 'Mulan' in history," the outlet noted.

One of the complaints that the Chinese viewers had was that Liu Yifei's character was portrayed like she was perfect from the start. It lacked room for growth, thereby making the viewers feel that the character was inauthentic.

"It feels that this Mulan was born with eight-pack abs. She has no shortcomings — and even small shortcomings can be overcome immediately. She’s lost the complexity of the animated version of the character, who is both a cute little girl and a powerful heroine. She has no process of gradual growth," one wrote as quoted by Variety. 

"The storyline is very poor and Mulan's hero complex was highlighted without logic. The martial arts sequences were also weak," another reviewer wrote.

Meanwhile, Liu's acting also received mixed opinion from the public. Some felt that her acting was "wooden" while others thought that her presence was "too soft" for a soldier.

Despite the criticisms, some moviegoers were happy and satisfied with what they saw in the film.

"Mulan is a household name. Different people may have different ways of understanding this story," said Hu Xia, 46, who watched the movie with her son. "This time, I think they were successful."

The slew of controversies involving the movie may or may not have affected its performance. Liu was criticized after she aired her support for the Hong Kong police, which started the campaign to boycott "Mulan." Producer Jason T. Reed backed Liu despite the call to boycott the movie because she worked hard for it. In fact, she trained for six months before the production started.

Disney was slammed again when people learned that they filmed in Xinjiang, where abuse against Uyghur Muslims have been widely documented.

"This is truly outrageous: The new live-action Mulan THANKS the Turpan Public Security Bureau (in southern Xinjiang) in the credits. That specific public security bureau has been deeply involved in the Xinjiang concentration camps,” one wrote on Twitter.

Mulan Disney Plus Premier Access Yifei Liu stars in the 2020 version of "Mulan," available on Disney+. Photo: Disney