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Watching ‘Mulan’ as a family

  • Jasin Boland/Disney via AP

    This image released by Disney shows Yifei Liu in the title role of “Mulan.”

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Lytron Shinno, a 5th grader at Wilcox Elementary is all about his smiles and his favorite Chinese dishes as he awaits the start of Mulan.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Siblings Syler Nero and Aaliyah Nero get their popcorn and spicy cheetos ready before the movie Mulan started on the Disney Plus app.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island All smiles and hot Cheetos for Syler Nero and Aaliyah Nero of Hanamaulu before the Mulan move played on their mom's Ipad.

Last Friday, Disney launched a premier access tier of its service Disney+ to stream the 2020 real-life action-packed version of the movie “Mulan” for $29.99.

If you didn’t have the app, it would cost you another $6 a month to subscribe to watch Disney-owned movies, shows and exclusive content on the app or online.

As a single parent, I am used to paying about $60-80 at the movie theatres for my three kids and myself. Of course, that amount includes popcorn, hot dogs, drinks and candy.

For me, paying the extra $29.99 was a deal, especially because I could watch it with my kids over and over when we felt like it at the comfort of our hale.

Like many “Mulan” fans, I felt the wait was finally over. Due to the pandemic, the original debut of the movie “Mulan” was postponed from March 27 to September 4 in hopes of the pandemic’s completion.

There is some controversy around the movie, but I am just a grateful mom who is thankful for a movie night with the keiki.

I was excited and watched it twice, one for work purposes and the other just to emerge and enjoy it. But, I quickly gained two different experiences with two different age groups of my kids.

After work on Friday, with Chinese food and access to the movie on my iPad, my youngest son Lytron, 10, a distance learner at Wilcox Elementary School, and I began the movie on my queen-sized bed.

“Is Mushu going to be in the movie?” Lytron asked.

At first, I could not answer him. I was curious, too, and soon learned — without giving away too much information — that the movie would be different from the original animated version “Mulan” that aired in 1998, and “Mulan II” in 2005.

The movie was very uplifting, action-packed and full of empowerment for both girls and boys of all ages.

I have always connected well with the lead role. All my life I felt misunderstood, or not seen as the person I was born to be, like Mulan, who is played by Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei in this version. The movie always left me feeling like I could take on the world, or at least pretend to take out the bad guys in my head.

I liked how Mulan’s story empowered young girls to be who they truly are and to be more than what others define them.

Like Mulan, there is a warrior in all of us waiting to be free if we follow the three virtues: Bravery, Loyalty and Truth. This time, the movie adds the fourth virtue, a very important and familiar virtue that is practiced by all Hawai‘i families who grew up on the islands. If you are curious, you will just have to wait to see the movie to find out what it is.

On another note, yes, I was one of those parents who hosted a Mulan themed birthday party for my daughter, my oldest child, Aaliyah, when she turned one, complete with proper paper folding fans and fortune cookies that read “Aaliyah thanks you for your support.”

On Monday, when my two older kids came back from their dad’s, we watched the movie with popcorn, hot Cheetos and spicy cheese puffs.

As the movie began, Aaliyah, 14, a ninth-grader distance learner at Kamehameha High School, noticed certain parts of the beginning of the animated movie being replaced or omitted.

“My favorite bath scene isn’t there,” she said, as she sang the song she remembered from the first movie.

My son Syler, an eight-grader distance learning at Kamehameha Middle School, was also curious about the songs we’re used to in the original “Mulan” animated movies and sang them in moments he thought would fit in.

Question after question left me trying to focus on the story of the movie. I couldn’t really enjoy the movie with my older kids, they had so many questions, but it could just mean they were truly teens with opinions after all.

But I did catch myself looking at both my kids smiling, and I really appreciated the time we were spending during this pandemic. For a moment, things seemed normal.

Even with my younger son, who put his arms around me as we watched the movie, it was nice to feel a good release of positive emotions. The movie was great for our mental health and well-being.

Toward the end of the movie were songs you enjoyed from singer Christina Aguilera. Yes, I played it over and over, especially her new song for this 2020 “Mulan.”

Although this movie will never be the same as the originals, I gave it a 9 out of 10, because it was a great empowering movie that helped uplift our spirits through this pandemic, by bringing us together with Chinese food and hot Cheetos. But the reason for the not-so-perfect score was because it was lacking the sing-alongs that my kids were used to, but of course, it’s a live-action version after all.

2 Comments
  1. behappy September 11, 2020 3:27 am Reply

    I plan to watch it this weekend and I’m glad to hear your comments. After reading this on CNN I wondered if it would be affected.
    “Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are reigniting calls to boycott the film, now joined by activists in Thailand and Taiwan. The calls erupted last year when the film’s lead actress Liu Yifei expressed support for Hong Kong police….”
    Freedom of speech seems to be monitored on all levels now.


  2. Citizen September 12, 2020 8:03 am Reply

    The credits of Mulan specifically thank the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Committee, as well as the Public Security Bureau in the city of Turpan and other state entities there. The Public Security Bureau is one of the main forces administering the internment camps, enforcing the surveillance and interrogation of even nominally “free” Uighurs, forcing people into slave labor, demanding that Uighurs host Han guests employed by the government to spy on them, and sterilizing Uighur women. The Publicity Department—a term that used to be more honestly translated as the Propaganda Department—justifies these atrocities.

    So basically its Like a Nazi propaganda film that reframes a myth to praise hitler and then credits the SS.


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