There has been a lot of hype (and drama) around Disney’s live-action Mulan. Due to the pandemic, the film’s release date has been pushed multiple times until Disney made the decision not to release it in theaters in 2021, but instead release the film on their Disney+ platform with the price tag of $30. ::GASP::
Disney’s LIVE Action Mulan doesn’t officially come to Disney+ until Friday, September 4th, and the biggest question is, is the film worth your hard-earned money? Well, we were able to check out the film early and have an answer for you!
The Background Of Mulan
Mulan tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young Chinese girl who has chosen to take the place of her ailing father in the Imperial Army. By disguising herself as a man and his son, Hua Jun, Mulan is able to help defend her homeland against an invading army.
Disney has released a few other live-action versions of their popular cartoon films – Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Dumbo, and The Lion King to name a few – most of which have been trash. Then, going into Mulan, knowing that the film will not be a musical, there’s no Li-Shan, no Mushu, no Cricky – the odds don’t seem in its favor.
Can It Succeed Without The Animated Characters?
HOWEVER, sorry Mushu, there is no dishonor here! I cannot completely put into words how INCREDIBLE this film is, but I’m gonna try. There are quite a few more major changes from the original 1998 cartoon and each and every single one is a fantastic choice. There are also quite a few nods to the original film as well.
In Mulan (2020), Mulan’s father (Tzi Ma) teaches a young Mulan how to harness and wield her Ch’i before being forced to squash it down to assume the gender role that has been forced upon her. Qi or Ch’i is a huge part of Traditional Chinese Culture and is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living identity. FUN FACT: it’s what George Lucas based the Force on in Star Wars.
The Positive Changes
One of my favorite changes is how much time we spend in training camp. The original cartoon gave us a training montage to a great musical number with I’ll Make a Man Out of You, and then we pretty much move on. The live-action Mulan spends more time showing us the soldiers training, how much Mulan has to go through in order to hide her true identity – from binding her chest to avoiding showers – as well as the strength of the Ch’i she wields.
One thing Mulan fans were sad about is that we do not have Li-Shang, but we do meet Honghui (Yoson An) and, don’t worry kids, we get just as much palpable sexual tension between him and Hua-Jun as we did with Shang and Ping.
Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) is the film’s villain and leader of the Rouran Army smashing their way through China. His right-hand woman, Xianniang (Li Gong) is a shape-shifting witch who changes into a Hawk and fights like one as well.
The Fights Are Absolutely Beautiful
The fight scenes in this film are INCREDIBLE. I haven’t seen fighting this impressive in a really long time. What a feat! Snaps and all the claps to Niki Caro and her stunt team for going above and beyond to bring us the coolest fight sequences since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. We’re getting sword fights, archery, stunts on horses, off horses, back onto horses! Remember when I said Xianniang fights like a Hawk? Her hands turn into talons and she uses her clothing as weapons like she Madusa or something! I was screaming “YAAAAS” at the screen during every fight scene the entire time.
And let’s talk about the Costumes and makeup! These teams paid so much attention to detail making sure to get the authenticity correct. Starting with Mulan’s makeup when meeting the match-maker and the gilded silks, to Xianniang’s gold, bird-like outfit, the weapons the soldiers’ yield, and the armor they wear.
If you’ve read this far and still don’t know if spending the $30 for Mulan on Disney+ is worth it, let me just say live-action MULAN IS WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY THEY ARE ASKING! I absolutely loved this film! I will still pay $30 on Friday. If Mulan comes to theaters I’ll pay to see it, and I will buy it when it hits other purchasable streaming platforms.
Run, don’t walk to your couch, grab your snacks, and enjoy!