Disney’s Mulan – A New Live-Action Version

Image courtesy of Disney.

Opening March 27, 2020

By Britt Argo

What It’s About

In 1998, Disney released a moving animated film—Mulan—a retelling of an old Chinese tale from the Han dynasty. In this ancient time, young ladies were taught to be quiet, demure, graceful, and to impress the village matchmaker. To serve the Emperor, a girl’s only duty was to be the perfect bride and wife—to bring honor to her family. A very reluctant and tomboyish Mulan wanted so much more than this. Meanwhile outside her village, the notorious Hun army invaded the lands and threatened to bring down the Emperor and Imperial City.

With the Great Wall breached and invasion imminent, one adult male from each family was called upon to join the army in defense. Mulan’s father was injured and too frail to fight. Rather than see him serve and surely perish, Mulan snuck out, grabbed his armor and sword, and masqueraded as a male soldier to take his place with the Imperial Army. We witness her journey from a reluctant cadet to a strong warrior who overcomes all. The Emperor proclaimed, “A single grain of rice may tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.” In this tale, they learn it was one woman who brought honor to them all!

The New Twist

Now—22 years later—Disney has taken on an epic, majestic, live-action version of the tale. After some backlash for disrespecting the Chinese culture, they opted not to have a talking Mushu dragon sidekick. To focus more on the serious tone and martial artistry, they decided to do away with the singing and musical numbers. All the actors cast are Chinese, and character names were changed to traditional Chinese names. In this version we get two villains, the Hun military commander (Shan Yu, now renamed Bori Khan) and a new character, a powerful witch (Xian Lang) who brings a mix of martial arts fantasy and supernatural elements to the story.

Think more Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets G.I. Jane. There is more emphasis on the pageantry and story of a girl breaking from her traditional role to become a warrior in a man’s army. Mulan takes the “Oath of the Warrior” to be loyal, brave, and true—she finds herself. In the beginning, her motivation to serve was to save her father and avoid a forced marriage. At first, she only wanted to remain undetected and get by, but through continued training, she discovered something inside her. She didn’t train to just fight, she battled because she wanted to win. The witch, learning Mulan was secretly a girl, taunted that “she would die pretending to be something she was not,” but Mulan vowed, “Yet here I stand, proof there is a place for people like us.”

Worth Watching

Yes—highly recommend it. With sweeping landscapes, it is a stunning and visual feast. The new fresh actors Liu Yifei (Mulan) and Gong Li (Xian Lang) are the true warriors to watch, alongside veterans Jet Li and Jason Scott Lee. A new Mulan for a new generation. She will bring honor, once again, to us all.

Join the Fun

Aurora Cineplex is celebrating the opening of the movie with a Mulan Fun Zone—Saturday, March 28 from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. There will be face painting, games, activities, and raffle with prizes out front before the movie.

Britt Argo, an avid movie fan for 30 years, sees an average of 150 movies a year in movie theaters. She is the marketing coordinator at Area 51: Aurora Cineplex and The Fringe Miniature Golf5100 Commerce Parkway in Roswell. 770-518-0977.