Fans of the 1998 animated Mulan, fear not. This lavish Disney Live-Action film has everything you remember and more.
Well Well, there is no singing there. Forget about the songs with which you grew up: they did not suit the vision of New Zealand director Niki Caro (Whale Rider), who has now helmed a woman’s most expensive movie ever made.
And there is simply no romance. Mulan does not fall for her commanding officer: in the age of # MeToo that would not happen. Modern Disney heroines need no guy! And do not look for Mushu, the annoying little dragon spirit that Eddie Murphy voiced in the original as he was not popular in China at all.
Unfortunately, in this relentless effort to court the huge Chinese market there is hardly any humour either. But this is much like the original apart from the lack of music, romance, humour and a mouthful dragon.
What is left maybe you wonder. Well, $200 million is buying a lot of scenery and sets, and a couple of stars. This new version is looking at spectacle. There are many large-scale battles between the invading Huns, with Jason Scott Lee being their leader Bori Khan in the leather-clads. And there is Gong Li at his side, shifting form from bird to beautiful witch.
Jet Li is sitting on the throne in the Forbidden City and Donnie Yen is stepping into the role of Commander Tung, General Mulan. Venerable Tzi Ma plays father Zhou of Mulan, a warrior now walking with a cane. When the emperor calls on each family to send a man to fight the Huns, Mulan steals the armour of her father and joins the recruits, her hair in a bun and her chest tightly tied.
Chinese-born American actress and singer Liu Yifei is doing a reasonable job as a teen warrior and she handles the component of martial arts with ease.
This remake has been followed by controversy since it was announced in 2010. Chinese fans have not liked the idea of a Western director, even if she is a woman; fans in Hong Kong have not liked to hear Liu Yifei say in the recent unrest she is supported the police against the demonstrators. LGBTQI+ fans did not like hearing that the first film had written out the subtle queer undercurrents.
Disney was always hiding against the turbulent currents of social media, but we might wonder why they chose to renew a film that was so successful in the first round and so well-loved by the 1990 ‘s children.
Of course the answer is money. Success is Hollywood’s self-replicating organism and the mainland audience is the new studio prize. COVID, not without a bit of irony, shorn its big screen aspirations. Now the spectacle will depend on your telly ‘s size.