Review: Liu Yifei is the only good part of the live-action Mulan

How is it that Chen Man’s photoshoot for Liu Yifei got a calligrapher to write out Mulan’s slogan – Loyal, Brave, and True – but Disney couldn’t seem to get one for the movie with their 200-million-USD-budget.

The original Disney’ Mulan wasn’t perfect, but you could tell that the people who worked on it poured their hearts into it through details. Yet films often reflect societal attitudes, and gone is the time when China was still a subject of wonder for many filmmakers in the West, when filmmakers were sometimes insensitive but at least interested in China. In the live-action Mulan, almost every aspect of the film seems to send the same message: China is the world’s second-biggest box office and we will use the minimum efforts it takes to give them what we think they want.

Disney’s Mulan is not a bad film, but it is a disappointing film. The basic story of Mulan is compelling, the scenery is beautiful if often obviously New Zealand, and its lead Liu Yifei is charming enough and did what she could with the role. Yet it’s very hard to watch the live-action Mulan and not judge it for what it could’ve been or see the lack of effort behind it. One expects a live-action to have the same humor and heart as the original, and it doesn’t. There isn’t a single change I can name that improved the story.

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Drama Review: A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower

“Now when you’re falling down, I’ll take you high. Come back around, just you and I.” – Theme song by Aila Gato & Philip Halloun

Helmed by three masterful directors, A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower is one of only a handful of dramas in recent years that is truly female-centric and brave enough to tackle sensitive subject matter such as gender discrimination, domestic violence, rape, PUA and victim blaming.

The story begins with the death of coffee barista Zhong Meibao (Angelababy) in her apartment, and the brilliant opening sequence below introduces pretty much all the suspects.

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Promos round-up: Chinese Valentine’s Day 2020

Ancient Love Poetry – Zhou Dongyu, Xu Kai

Here’s a round-up of posters and stills for upcoming dramas, plus one currently airing drama. Which shows are you looking forward to most?

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Drama Review: The Romance of Tiger and Rose

The Romance of Tiger and Rose 传闻中的陈芊芊 is an absolutely hilarious rom-com starring the cute and bubbly Zhao Lusi (Love of Thousand Years) as screenwriter Chen Xiaoqian who gets stuck in her own script. Up-and-coming actor Ding Yuxi (Intense Love) plays Han Shuo, the hero of her story.

Hilarious moment #1: Han Shuo is no match for Pei Heng’s calculating subordinate.
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Review: Intense Love

Zhang Yuxi is really perfect for slightly-spoiled-but-kind-at-heart princess roles.

Zhang Yuxi has been a bias of mine since My Dear Princess, and Intense Love 韫色过浓 is definitely her best project since then. While it falls into the age-old trap of losing its spark after the leads confirm their relationship, it’s cute while it lasts. Based on the book of the same name, the 35-episode series stars Zhang Yuxi as an actress trying to get out of her arranged marriage with an equally unwilling doctor played by Ding Yuxi. The marriage was set-up by their grandparents since they were young. However, for some reason their families never had them meet each other until the engagement party at the beginning of the series.

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A Visual Guide to What I Hate About Mulan’s Aesthetics

I’ll still watch the movie for the nostalgia and Liu Yifei/Gong Li, but I just don’t understand why some of the visual choices are so hideous in Disney’s Mulan.

You would think the biggest film company in the world with such a big budget would be able to build on years of development in the Chinese entertainment industry, yet it’s uglier than TV series made decades ago. How do they get a German costume designer, a New Zealand production designer and make-up artist, an Australian cinematographer, a British stunt coordinator, but not a single person who’s worked on a few Chinese movies or dramas in the past decade to be in the production crew?

Here’s a scene-by-scene comparison of one of the most expensive films ever by the biggest film company in the world versus Chinese TV series.

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