Why The Remake of Mulan Is Better Without Them
So sue me, but I definitely watched Mulan, and even worse than that, I actually liked it. Overall, I found this new take on the Disney classic to be refreshing and interesting in how it differed from the original; The cinematography was breathtaking also, making it one of the most beautifully shot movies I’ve seen all year. It didn’t really break any new ground because it was a story I had seen before but it wasn’t terrible.
The character I was drawn to more than anyone else was the new villainess Xianniang, the witch. Say what you will, but I get weak in the knees for a bad bitty. It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside when I see a woman who is confident in herself and what she brings to the table. For me, it serves as a reminder that I don’t have to look outside myself for all the things that make me a powerful creature, who deserves respect and all my heart’s desires. I found that she was a great antagonist for Mulan; representing the dark path that Mulan’s mother feared was in store for Mulan had she not hid her chi and tried so hard to fit in.
On my second pass of the movie, it began to nag at me that the big bad villain in the movie is a practically useless man, Bori Khan. I get that women in China aren’t held in high esteem and that Xianniang is an outcast who attached herself to Bori Khan as a means of trying to overthrow the system that rejected her and blah, blah, blah. Hear me out though, all of Bori Khan’s success is directly related to the Witch’s involvement; when she tells him that she could kill him and there’s nothing he could do about it, he flat out agrees. The witch has more power in her pinky finger than Bori Khan has in his whole body. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this story didn’t actually need the Bori Khan character at all.
In a movie where we have two amazing female leads whose backgrounds and skill sets mirror each other perfectly, why is the final battle not between the two of them?! If you remove Bori Khan from the movie halfway through the run time and just have Xianniang pretend to be him for the rest of the film, it would not change the plot in the least. Hell, I’ll do you one better and have Xianniang kill Bori Khan before the movie starts, and pretend to be him the whole time! Then you have two bad ass women, parading around as men, with one trying to save all of China and the other trying to destroy it instead of settling for being some whack dude’s lap dog. It would add depth and ferocity Xianniang’s character and nuance to her interactions with Mulan. Have the final scene take place in the emperor’s throne room where Mulan rushes in, only to find out that Bori Khan was just a facade the witch used to trick men she never thought would respect her. The witch realizing that Mulan earned the respect of her comrades despite being a powerful woman, despite her deceit, is visibly disheartened. Mulan tells her that there is still a place for her on the noble path, the Witch flies into a rage triggering the most epic