The Reel Review
Disney’s long-awaited, live action remake of the popular 1998 animated classic is the story of a brave, wise beyond her years, and athletically gifted teenage girl who runs away from home and pretends to be a young man to join the Chinese Imperial Army in their battle against a group of invading marauders aided by a magical sorceress.
After a couple of missteps with recent live action remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin, Disney gets this one right, thanks to the vision of director Niki Caro (McFarland USA). Mulan has a solid, heartfelt story, fantastic, 4K-friendly visuals and costuming, and a rousing score. Its ace in the hole, however, is Yifei Liu (The Forbidden Kingdom), whose impressive stunt work, horseback and battle choreography and martial arts skills – along with a solid acting performance – makes for one convincing lead character. She even sings the Mandarin version of the popular Christina Aguilera song “Reflections” in the closing credits. Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha) as the sorceress, Tzi Ma (The Farewell, Arrival) as Mulan’s father and Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) as Mulan’s rival/love interest are standouts among the supporting cast.
The only flaw is some clunky looking CGI and a script that could have benefited from a bit of tightening up. Mulan is a winner.
• Ming-Na Wen, who voiced Mulan in the 1998 animated film, has a cameo near the end of the film as the guest who introduces Mulan to the Emperor.
• Shot mostly in New Zealand, with a few scenes in China, Mulan‘s $200 million budget makes it the most expensive film ever directed by a woman (Niki Caro).
• Yifei Liu performs a stunning 90% of her stunts – horseback riding, sword fighting, martial arts and battle scenes.