Disney’s Mulan remake always faced a few challenges — lack of musical numbers, no Mushu, and pushback from the same crowd who gave Captain Marvel poor reviews before watching — long before it transformed from what was designed to be a late-March blockbuster. The film’s now set as a Disney+ premier access streaming release (on September 4 at a $29.99 price point). That decision led to furious theater owners angry about losing out on future revenue in the U.S. (although the movie will play in select global locations), and now, some older controversy has come back again.
The fuss is actually a resurrected fuss after the film’s star, Liu Yifel, angered pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong by voicing support for police. “I support the Hong Kong police, you all can beat me up now,” Yifel reportedly stated. Although the protest talk quieted down when Mulan was postponed indefinitely, news of its imminent release on streaming dovetailed with the fourth arrest (for violations of the vague, recently enacted National Security Law) of a popular pro-Democracy activist, Agnes Chow, who’s beloved by much of the Chinese public at large.
In the wake of her arrest, the New York Times quotes Chow (who has since been released without booking) as saying, “Of the four times I’ve been arrested, this is the most terrifying.” And in turn, supporters of Chow have adopted a certain line from the film’s trailer, in which Hua Mulan rejects the traditional path of marriage to step into her father’s shoes as a warrior and “bring honor to us all.” Tweets like this one also assert that Agnes Chow is “the real Mulan.”
You can see more tweets to that effect here, there, and over yonder. Whether this growing response will have an effect on Mulan‘s planned Chinese theatrical release, only time will tell, but an even bigger question remains: can a $29.99 streaming price salvage the Mulan reboot from its long uphill battle? We’re about to find out.