It probably won’t make as much money as Disney’s biggest legacy titles, but this new take on Mulan promises to be more fresh and exciting, with its own reason for being beyond that of a vehicle to print cash.
From Whale Rider director Niki Caro, the live-action Mulan — which stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei in the title role of a young woman in medieval China who disguises herself as a solider at a time of war — actually de-Disney-fies itself. It ditches things like the comic relief sidekick dragon Mushu as well as the songs, making it a straight action drama in very epic fashion, complete with gravity-defying wire stunts that are an artistic signature of Asian action cinema.
No, this won’t be a musical like the 1998 animated original on which it is based (although the memorable “Reflections” ballad remains in the orchestral score, heard in this trailer) but the main story beats are still intact. While those musical numbers will be missed, it’s a reasonable price to pay for allowing one of these Disney remakes (of which there are now a glut) to become its own thing rather than a by-the-numbers carbon copy.
Co-starring Rosalind Chao, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Jet Li, Mulan opens this spring on March 27, 2020.
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