The Lion King arrives in theatres in a couple weeks, and it’s as close to a sure-fire hit as it gets. It’s not a matter of whether Simba and the crew will own the summer box office, the only question is for how long? To keep Disney’s momentum going, the house of mouse dropped the teaser trailer for their live-action adaptation of Mulan.
Released in 1998, Mulan featured the voice talent of Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, and Pat Morita and earned over $300 million at the global box office. The film retells a Chinese folk tale about a peasant girl who disguises herself as a man and joins the emperor’s army. It’s a story that subverts fairy-tale expectations and puts the “damsel” in position to rescue the prince. Mulan’s strong female hero and POC-dominant cast make it the ideal source material for a modern-day reboot. Take a look below.
Critics make the case that these Disney reboots are blatant cash grabs that prey on older viewer’s sense of nostalgia. But a remake becomes fair game after 20-years. There’s an entire generation ready to experience the story as told through the cinematic language and social mores of the day. In the past five years, Hollywood has made giant leaps regarding inclusive casting, gender parity, and cultural sensitivity. This reboot tells a story more in line with the film we deserved in the first place.
Check out Mulan 1998’s IMDb page and look at how many voice actors aren’t of Asian descent. Notice how two men (Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook) directed the movie. Disney swapped out two dudes for Niki Caro, an accomplished filmmaker who helmed the excellent coming of age movie, Whale Rider. Bringing the film back in 2020 allows for a course correction.
Mulan 2020 features a cast of big-time international stars. Li Gong, Jason Scott Lee, Jet Li, Pei-Pei Cheng, and Tzi Ma are all actors whose casting makes any film 25% better. And of course, there’s Yifei Liu as the titular Mulan.
But aside from Mulan falling in line with today’s social standards, there’s one more reason for an update: movies look better than ever. And today’s VFX allows filmmakers to tell epic stories that weren’t possible in 1998.
It looks like Disney already one-upped the dazzling visuals in their Aladdin remake. Mulan looks phenomenal. It’s expansive sets, colourful costumes, and gorgeous cinematography paint an immersive picture I want to get lost in. But best of all, Mulan looks badass. While the film doesn’t showcase any combat, she looks like someone who kicked her share of ass. I can’t wait to see Disney’s fresh take on this beloved story.
Mulan Official Synopsis:
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honoured warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honoured warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
“Mulan” features a celebrated international cast that includes: Yifei Liu as Mulan; Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”
Disney’s Mulan arrives in theatres in spring 2020.