Last month, Disney put out their first teaser for an upcoming new live-action adaptation of one of their “Animated Canon” movies, that of the 1998 entry, “Mulan.” Said teaser promised a more down-to-earth narrative that hews closer to the original Chinese ballad about the legendary girl soldier, to be portrayed by Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei in the remake set to premiere in 2020. Initial reaction to this short preview was relatively positive, but a recent development might have unexpected consequences. Liu has made her personal opinion known about the ongoing disorder in Hong Kong, and while it may have support in the world’s largest film market, others are not pleased.
Last week, a comment by Liu Yifei on the Chinese social media platform Weibo stated her support for the Hong Kong Police Force in doing their job to stem the rioters in the former British colony-turned-Chinese special administrative region. As a result, spokespersons of the Hong Kong protest movement have called on a widespread boycott of Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake according to The Hollywood Reporter. They have also called on the House of Mouse to do something about Yifei for her tacit support of the HKPF, which has been accused of brutality and human rights violations against the protesters. Otherwise, they would target the boycott at Disney as a whole.
While the initial wave of calls for the #BoycottMulan movement have been concentrated in Hong Kong and scattered sympathizers around the world, the call has gotten a major boost from South Korea of all places, Comic Book Resources has it that Koreans have come out in force to support the Hong Kong protesters and expressing it by vows not to watch the upcoming 2020 Disney film. Social media comments in the country have called out an element of hypocrisy in the actress’ original Weibo post.
Born 1987 in Wuhan, mainland China, Liu Yifei moved with her mother to New York City and gained American citizenship. She returned to China in 2002 where she got breakout popularity starring in TV dramas before becoming an international quantity in 2008 with her Hollywood debut in “The Forbidden Kingdom.” Korean critics of Liu’s political stance amount to her “enjoying freedom as an American citizen, while forcing Hong Kong people to make sacrifices.” Apparently, detractors of the “Mulan” lead’s statement are only too ready to take up her challenge from her Weibo comment: “I support the Hong Kong Police, you can hit me now.” Said post was apparently spread online by a mainland Chinese journalist.
While at the very least the politicized statement might guarantee solid support for Disney’s “Mulan” remake in China (they actually did not like the 1998 original), as more voices worldwide chime in to support the pro-democracy Hong Kong protests against the heavy-handed police and the hanging Community military intervention, the situation looks tense before the film finally arrives in 2020. Neither Liu nor Disney responded to calls for any comments.
Image courtesy of Variety