Baroque SF/Western hybrid. Similar in that way to Outlaw Star (1998), which also posits Chinese dominance in human space exploitation.
Two veterans who lost a war of independence assemble a crew and make a living as adventurer thieves and cargo haulers in the frontier regions of interstellar civilization. There are no aliens, and people like to swear in bad Mandarin. Outside the wealthy corporate core, a horse is almost as good as a car, and a rusty old spaceship can be an excellent home.
Depressing mistreatment by the network brought the advantage that the (weak) concept and (strong) characters are never over-extended, at least not in the original series.
A darker feature film, with a little more archaic speech.
River is being hunted because of a secret that leaked into her mind when she was demonstrated to some MPs. Mal resolves to reveal that secret.
Joss Whedon's usual half-assed progressiveness: Two of the crew die, but only one realistically, and plenty of people who suffer more than enough damage to motivate death survive. As in Monster (2004), the thematic problem is whether or not you accept human nature when you have a shot at changing it, which is nice.
Done the Impossible: The Fans' Tale of 'Firefly' and 'Serenity' (2006 IMDb)
Mostly talking heads.
Core elements of American Firefly fandom congratulate themselves at length on spending so much work and money on their hobby that the suits who shat all over it noticed.
So it's now possible for a company to treat its own product like that and still make a profit because fans are willing to do guerilla marketing for free in order to keep the franchise afloat. Is that cultural democracy, capitalist horror or both?