By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
The wonderful world of Disney continues to remake several of its beloved animated classics into live action feature movies from “Aladdin,” “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” to Cinderella,” and “Maleficent” among others.
The latest live-action adaptation is “Mulan”
and it’s quite impressive.
Directed by Niki Caro
(“McFarland” and “Whale Rider”), “Mulan” is a bold and exciting drama.
It's filled with jaw-dropping cinematography, terrific martial-arts fighting and at its core; a heart-warming and inspirational story about a young Chinese girl named Mulan (Yifei Liu, “Once Upon a Time”) who risks her life to become a fighting warrior with hopes it will bring honor to her family.
The film pays homage to the 1998 animated “Mulan” movie, but also brings some new flavor to this updated version. There are no talking dragons here and the only songs are “Loyal Brave True” and an updated version of “Reflection” from Christina Aguilera.
Disney has had plenty of success with many of these live-action movies and it appears as if they’ll strike box office gold again with “Mulan.”
“Mulan” was set to open in March and jumpstart the summer movie season until COVID-19 got in the way and delayed its opening four times.
Now, audiences can catch “Mulan” starting Sept. 4 on Disney+ for $29.99. It’s also opening in very select theaters. For Disney+ subscribers who don’t want to pay for “Mulan,” Disney is offering the movie for free on Dec 4 to all its customers.
Still, that’s a long time to wait to see a movie as good as “Mulan” and one that most everyone will be talking about in September.
We first meet Mulan played as a child by Crystal Rao and then as an adult by Chinese star Yifei Liu who is sensational.
Mulan is navigating her way through life under the strict guidance of her mother Li (Rosalind Chao, TV’s “Better Things”) and father Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma, “The Farewell”).
Her parents are at odds with each other over Mulan. Li (Chao) believes Mulan should be preparing to find a suitable husband and get married. Instead, Mulan spends much of her time riding her horse and learning to fight which her father likes. These are things her mother believes are a waste of time and will do little to help her become a good wife.
When the family discovers that the Emperor (a terrific Jet Li, “The Expendables 3”) needs to quickly mobilize troops to stave off an attack from a group of Northern invaders led by the ruthless, Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee, “Beyond the Game”), everyone scrambles to get their sons “battle ready.” But since Zhou and Li only have daughters, Zhou must step forward even though the former decorated war veteran is ill and has a bum leg.
Mulan, who is the oldest daughter, sees that her father is in no position to do battle. So, she disguises herself and poses as his son, steals his sword and horse, and joins the army prepared to defend her family’s honor.
It’s a struggle for Mulan to keep her secret identity from the rest of the young soldiers especially when one of them Chen Honghui (Yoson An, “Mortal Engines”) takes a liking to her. They also start to wonder why she won’t shower with them.
However, when the young men see Mulan during a practice fighting session, they’re awed by her skills. So is her commander (Donnie Yen, “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”) who proudly touts her as the best fighter he’s seen among the ranks. He tells Mulan that she has all the makings of a true warrior: loyalty, bravery, and truth.
It’s the latter tenet that begins to haunt Mulan. If she tells her unit the truth, it will shame her family name.
In the end, it takes a battle with the shapeshifting villainous witch Xian Lang (Gong Li, “Coming Home”) for Mulan to truly discover her inner warrior, change the mindset of longstanding cultural traditions and earn respect and honor as a fierce and heroic young woman.
Check Out This Trailer For "MULAN"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.