Mulan is considered to be one of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ crown jewels and given Disney’s success with their live-action adaptations of their animated classics, it only makes sense that they look towards turning 1998’s Mulan into a live-action film. However, instead of following in the footsteps of other films that merely retell the original story, like Cinderella and Beauty and The Beast, Mulan will be depicted as a large-scale epic that sees the titular character (played by Liu Yifei) do anything to protect the family that she loves, even if it means disguising herself as a man so that her ailing father does not have to go to war.
Check out our coverage of the film from this weekend’s D23 Expo here below.
The new film feels like a large-scale Hong Kong-style fantasy epic, with a touch of Disney in it. This is clear from the clips that were presented to us at the D23 Expo, which sees Mulan preparing for the matchmaking ceremony. She and her sister get their hair and makeup done to look presentable to the matchmaker.
Mulan jokes how there is too much makeup on her and that not even the harshest winter winds could take it off and jokes with her sister that she cannot express any sort of emotion, unable to tell what is her sad face and what is her happy face.
When they meet the matchmaker, she tells the two that a good wife must be quiet and have a graceful quality, and that these are the qualities that she sees in Mulan. Also, a dutiful wife must be subservient to her husband. Of course, these sorts of ideas do not sit well with Mulan, who is also very protective of her sister. We see that when a spider crawls down a web, and Mulan slightly moves a teapot to cover the spider. This angers the matchmaker who says the teapot must be in the center, and demands that it be moved back to its proper place.
Mulan complies, which not only reveals the spider but scares her sister, who then kicks the table up and everything that was on it. Mulan manages to save the tea set from breaking, but is forced to let go when her hair falls on her face. This is considered to be a dishonorable act and the matchmaker shames the family. As they walk out, the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders. So, Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored but ailing warrior, masquerades as a man, transforming into a heroic warrior to ultimately earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.
The battle sequences look epic, a proper homage to the great Hong Kong fantasy films of the past. There is even a slight touch of that when we see someone turn themselves into a falcon. It’s unclear who this person is aligned with though.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father. “Mulan” features a celebrated international cast that includes: Yifei Liu as Mulan; Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”
Mulan also stars Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor.
Mulan opens in theaters on March 27, 2020.
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