Live Action Mulan: DIY Viewing Party and Review

By now you know that instead of a giant theatrical release, Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan was released on Friday, September 4th, 2020 through the Disney+ app. I’m sure you’ve read stances on both ends of the spectrum; voicing both pleasure and disappointment.

Here’s where we stand… COVID changed absolutely everything. You might want to chastise Disney for saying they would never have in-app purchases, and nail them to a wall for changing so soon, but we are in a different camp. Disney spent $200 MILLION USD on the production of this movie. They expected it to make that money back, and then some. And then along came the big bad wolf known as COVID. 

What are their options, exactly? To release in the theatre and lose money; to wait it out (which they did technically do since it was originally meant to be released in March); or to pivot, and come up with a totally different plan, which is what they did. In my opinion, the only businesses that are going to stay afloat in this season are the ones that are able to pivot. I’ve had to do it with my travel agent job (shift to mostly local travel sales, or sales to friends in the US) and Disney has had to do it too… but on a much larger scale.

Basically I’m in the camp, “if you think it’s worth it, and you were going to see it anyway, pay the $29.99 USD to see it and support the studio, or they may not be making movies in the future.” Our family of four would for sure have paid to see it in the movie theatre. Even if we got our tickets at Costco it would have cost us $50, so the way I see it, this is actually cheaper and I don’t have to risk unnecessary exposure.

I do think Disney shot themselves in the foot a bit by telling us that it will be released for “free” (minus the monthly fee for the app, of course) in early December… but I am still willing to pay it. I also like that it’s not just a 48 hour rental, like it was for Trolls World Tour. This is a huge plus! I know my kids will be watching it many times over before it’s released in December. If you’re willing to wait it out, I get that too!

We knew right away that we were going to pay for it on release day, whatever the cost, so we invited my parents over for a movie night and a themed dinner to go along with it! I’m always down for a themed movie night, so I’m doing the same from Calgary.

About the Movie

This movie has had a bit of an uphill battle as things began to leak about the film before it aired. No Mushu? No musical? These are hard sells for die-hard Mulan fans. One of the things that make a Disney movie so engaging are the lovable sidekicks and clever songs.

It’s been 22 years since the original Mulan, enough time for a new generation to enjoy it. We have extremely fond memories of watching this film with teenagers and kids alike. One of our favourite memories is watching the bonus features on the “deluxe” version of the DVD with the “I’ll Make a Man out of You” music video by Jackie Chan. If you haven’t seen it, you gotta check it out… it’s GOLD.

I am cautiously optimistic about the remake. The things I like the most about the original are the wit and light-hearted songs, so I do have concerns about the tone. I on the other hand am so excited to see how they deliver the live-action! Considering the culture and story line I think a more realistic approach is exactly what it needs. I’m usually pleasantly surprised by how Disney reimagines the old classics.

I like that they chose to keep it in the realm of the original poem, both to give us an appreciation of the culture, as well as a different all-around film. If you’ve read our review of The Lion King remake you’ll know I’m not a fan of scene for scene remakes (also looking at you Jungle Book!), so I was excited to hear that they had done a fair amount to change. I believe I also read they are cutting out the love interest (correct me if I’m wrong) and I’m all for that. They are really focusing on “the girl who saved China.”


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Mulan Viewing Party

Truthfully, this is the best part about having Disney release it online for me… the viewing party! Heidi and I are both planning parties and purchasing the Premiere Access on release day (on each of our Disney+ accounts).

HEIDI’S MENU:

Entrees:

“Mushu” Chicken – Moo shu pork or chicken is China’s version of a taco. They are SO delicious and easy to make. The hardest part is making the Mandarin pancakes, but it didn’t end up taking very long at all. If you don’t want to make your own, use 4″ flour tortillas. I would go the extra step and brush them with sesame oil and heat them on the skillet. Here is the recipe I somewhat followed for the moo shu chicken.

Fa Mulan Egg Rolls – I mean, you could be ambitious and make these, but mine came out of a box.

Ping’s Potstickers – I have made potstickers before but I kept it simple and bought them in the frozen section of my grocery store this time. No shame in my game.

General Fried Rice – My mother in law brought this dish but if you wish to make your own it’s simple. Cooked rice, frozen vegetable medley (carrots, peas and corn), white onion, fresh garlic, grated ginger, and egg (scrambled). The sauce can be as simple as soy sauce and sesame oil, add oyster sauce if you can find it. Top with green onions and enjoy!

Shang’s Chow Mein – This is basically stir fry with noodles. I’ll link an easy recipe for you here.

 

Dessert:

Emperor Cherry Blossom Cupcakes – For the cupcakes I used a vanilla cake mix. I really wanted cherry chip but I couldn’t find it anywhere! So I chopped up a 1/2 cup of maraschino cherries and added 2 tsp of almond extract. I used a Swiss meringue buttercream for the icing and made little cherry blossoms out of gum paste. A hobby of mine is decorating cakes so I had everything I needed on hand. Instead of gum paste you could pipe the flowers with buttercream. For the branches I just melted chocolate chips. I’m so happy with how they came out.

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Drinks:

Matchmaker Tea Punch – For this, I steeped 1 bag of lemon ginger herbal tea and 1 bag of green tea in 2 cups of cold water overnight. To that I added 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 cup of lemonade and a 1/2 cup of lychee juice. Before serving I will add a bit of soda water for some fizz. 

Grandmother’s Lychee Fizz – This is a cocktail for the adults. I found lychee in syrup canned at my grocery store. 6 oz soda water, 1 oz lychee syrup (from the can), 0.5 oz lime juice and 1 oz vodka. Serve over ice.

HEIDI’S DECOR:

Cherry blossoms were the inspiration for decor when thinking about which direction to take for my dinner. The two scenes between Mulan and her father under the cherry blossoms are my favourite from the whole movie. That, and the best quote from the movie is, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” So that was my jumping point. I have thrown many parties over the years and I tend to keep everything because I can usually reuse what I have. This party was no exception, I didn’t have to buy much! I scavenged the house to find anything that gave me Mulan vibes and here’s what I came up with.

The colour scheme is pink, blue and red, like Mulan’s dress. My daughter had two fans in her room, one pink and one blue, which was perfect. I had the florals and chopsticks and some of the paper fans and a lantern. Then I found the little pink paper lanterns at Dollarama for $4 and they light up; I will definitely use them again. The plates I found at Superstore and were giving me all the Mulan vibes. Other than that, everything was from my party collection. For the cake stand I hot glue gunned (don’t worry, it peels right off) ribbon to mimic Mulan’s dress. I used my rose gold sequin table cloth, any excuse to bring that bad boy out. Overall super pleased with how everything came out. 

ERICA’S MENU:

  • “Mushu” Pork
  • Emperor’s Egg Rolls
  • Shan Yu Fresh Spring Rolls
  • Matchmakers Rice Pudding
  • “Be a Man” Mocktail

So I’m a total copy cat and doing “Mushu” Pork after hearing Heidi say she’s doing it. It’s just too perfect! Yes, we know Mushu isn’t in the new film, but it’s one of our favourite dishes and a little homage didn’t hurt anyone, amirite? The recipe that’s never failed me is from the Company’s Coming cookbook “Asian Cooking”. It’s a perfect recipe!

We invited my mom and dad to come over, and my mom supplied the beautiful Chinese decor, the Mandarin Pancakes for the “Mushu” Pork, and the egg rolls which we just called Emperor’s Egg Rolls, because of the theme and because we like alliteration. She also made fresh spring rolls. She tried to find swordfish (cause, Mulan…) to stuff inside but we ended up with crab and they were delicious!

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Matchmakers Rice Pudding is from the scene in the film in the matchmakers house where Cri-Kee makes Mulan congee with the egg eyes and bacon mouth. I wanted something sweet to end the night so I made rice pudding with Chinese five spice and brown sugar, and then I used egg gummies for the eyes and candy for the mouth. Worked awesome! I did have to go to multiple stores to find the egg gummies, but I think it was 100% worth it!

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For the drink I wanted a mocktail that worked with the theme and found one called “Medicine Man” Mocktail, so I changed it up to “Be a Man” Mocktail. It’s just pomegranate juice, orange juice, honey and iced green tea. The green tea is from China, so I felt like that added some authenticity to the drink. It was refreshing and delicious!

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Our Impressions of the Movie (as spoiler free as possible)

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. From the gripping intro, to the very last sentence, I loved every moment of it. It was absolutely and completely visually stunning (bonus for having it on a HD TV, better than the theatre for SURE), and I loved the character development and strong themes. The actors were fantastic, and served the characters well (unlike Jafar… still not over it). 

We loved it as well! This movie is worth the money in my opinion; an excellent family movie night. I would even pay for it as a childless millennial or teenager, it was that good. I would say however that it may not be great for little kids. The whole tone of the movie is more intense and serious and I doubt it will keep the attention of littles (would make an excellent date night movie when kids are in bed though).  

As a mom of strong girls (and coming from a family of 4 strong sisters), we have often felt and heard that girls are “lesser than.” The movie perfectly addresses this very timely issue in a way that was respectful and empowering. At the beginning it’s clearly and LOUDLY proclaimed over Mulan that “a daughter brings honour through marriage,” and that Mulan’s sole job is to bring honour to her family. 

There are many scenes that closely follow the original, but unlike The Lion King, they also made it their own. The Matchmaker scene was, perhaps, my favourite of the movie, with laugh out loud moments (“the fiercest storm can not destroy this make up”). We didn’t miss that it wasn’t a musical (and LOVED when they tied the songs from the original into the new score), and didn’t even miss the cute sidekicks. There were multiple times where the script used language from the songs, which was perfect. I loved this as well, super clever and seamlessly incorporated.

While they didn’t always use the same names for the characters, we all felt that they “honoured” the original while still making the movie something new. We also liked when Mulan had to pretend to be a boy. It was hysterical to see the live interpretation of Mulan acting like a man, I agree. Addie said, “I don’t want to snuggle with people I don’t know,” which we loved (this will make sense when you see it)! 

The ancestors were represented by a phoenix, which was really clever and served the story well. This is where I agree to disagree. While I agree that the phoenix representation was on point, I felt the delivery was cheesy at times and kind of cringe. Essentially the phoenix was a nod to Mushu which I loved, it was just the delivery I didn’t love.

One thing that took me by surprise (I read absolutely nothing going into movies) was the newer villain, Xianniang. I didn’t love her addition, but I do see that she played a purpose for the overall story arc. A not so veiled theme with Xianniang is that she wants to be accepted for who she “really is” and not vilified by those around her. There is a lot of talk about “chi” in this film, and of using it in a “destructive” way. The supernatural piece was a bit strange considering that it was meant to be more realistic. Lexie (our youngest) didn’t totally get her and said, “so she’s half bird?” Lol!

Our favourite quote, which is repeated throughout the movie, is, “there’s no courage without fear.” Our 10 year old (who struggles with fear) heard Mulan’s father say it early on, and she repeated it. I loved the theme of loyal, brave and true as well. Another favourite quote is, “It’s too late for me,” followed by the response, “It’s never too late to take the honourable path”. There are so many “ah-ha” moments in this film that we will be quoting for decades to come. 

Truly a great movie, I hope you get the chance to see it. It served the animated classic and the legend well, the scenery and sets were absolutely breathtaking, and the powerful themes resonate well past the closing credits. Mulan certainly did not disappoint, we think you will enjoy it as much as we all did. 

Easter Eggs

  1. I’m not very good at spotting these, but I did notice that the Disney castle is different at the beginning and I can only assume that it’s modeled after the castle from Shanghai Disney!
  2. Maybe I’m crazy, but the face paint that they used for Mulan’s face reminds me of the Pixar ball… yellow, red and blue.
  3. Although the animal side kicks from the original are not in this movie, one of the soldiers is named Cricket (he’s lucky ;-P).
  4. The falcon from the cartoon (sidekick to Shan Yu) makes an appearance in this version… I won’t spoil it, but its very clever. 
  5. At the end, after Mulan saves everyone, she is behind a woman who is presenting her to the Emperor. This just happens to be actress Ming-Na Wen, who plays Mulan in the animated version!

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Get to Know Us (Mulan Edition)

Favourite Character: Mulan (Erica), Mulan (Heidi), Mushu (Elisia), Grandmother Fa (Danielle)

Favourite Song: “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (Erica, Heidi, Elisia), “A Girl Worth Fighting For” (Danielle)

Best Scene (from the animated version):

  • When the male soldiers run into the water while Mulan is bathing (Erica)
  • The conversations between Mulan and her father (Heidi)
  • When the Huns pop out of the snow… like daisies! (Elisia)
  • When Mulan and the boys dress up as concubines to sneak into the palace (Danielle) 

Favourite Quote:

  • “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” (Erica)
  • “There is no courage without fear.” (Heidi)
  • “Dishonour! Dishonour on your whole family! Dishonour on you! Dishonour on your cow!” (Elisia)
  • “No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.” (Danielle)

 

Did you pay to see Mulan? Are you going to? We’d love to hear from you!

Erica, Heidi, Elisia, and Danielle

 

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