Disney’s live-action remake of 1998’s Mulan, directed by Niki Caro and starring Liu Yifei in the lead role, comes out this month, and I am genuinely interested. That’s change from most of Disney’s live-action remakes, which in general have seemed too similar to the source material to be worth making. Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin…they’re all well-made and everything, but why bother with them when they’re basically carbon copies of the original films, just less expressive because they’re no longer animated?
Or at least, that’s how I’ve been thinking about them. But Mulan, which tells the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to join the Imperial Chinese Army in place of her aging father, looks different. Gone is the wise-cracking dragon, gone are the musical numbers. The character of Li Shang is now broken up into two people: Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) and fellow soldier Chen Honghui (Yoson An). I get why some viewers may be upset with these changes, but I like that this new version of the movie, which draws more explicitly from the legend of Hua Mulan, is forging its own path.
Are my hopes borne out? Well, the movie had its grand premiere the other night, and first reactions are coming in. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Okay, good start. In fact, most of the reaction seems to be pretty effusive:
Obviously, the story of a young woman taking charge and empowering herself resonated with a lot of people in the audience:
I like what Michael Lee says below about the film modernizing some the the themes of the story for today’s audiences. I wish more of the Disney remakes went that extra mile:
The new Mulan also tries to be more respectful of the story’s Chinese roots:
Other commenters went further in talking about the love story:
All of this is great! Although in the spirit of fairness, we should highlight at least one negative reaction:
The villain, by the way, is Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee), who’s invading China with his Hun army. He was pretty weak in the animated version, too.
Mostly, people seem be digging the film! It opens on March 27.