Mulan: Disney+ Film Review

Mulan

I was outraged when Disney decided to put their live-action remake of Mulan on Disney+ and now I have seen the film I’m even more outraged that this stunning and cinematic epic is going to a streaming service rather than a movie theatre.

If you’re a fan of the 1998 animation, you’ll be familiar with the story. Liu Yifei plays Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honoured warrior. When Northern invaders launch an attack on settlements on The Silk Road, the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country. Mulan defies both tradition and the law by disguising herself as a man called Hua Jun in order to enlist herself in the Imperial Army in place of her ailing father.

Most of Disney’s recent live-action remakes have been essentially a shot-for-shot retelling of the original animation so it is really refreshing that Mulan is so different from the 1998 version. The overarching storyline is the same but the whole vibe is new – it is a serious yet family-friendly war movie. The musical numbers have been dispensed with, Mulan’s funny sidekick Mushu is gone, and the love interest subplot is almost non-existent. And I completely support Niki Caro for making those decisions.

Mulan is absolutely stunning to look at, with beautifully shot sweeping landscapes and amazing sets and costumes. The visuals are its biggest strength, swiftly followed by the stunt choreography. The battle scenes are epic, the one-on-one fights using swords or poles are clean and expertly crafted, and there are some extraordinary wirework stunts towards the end when Mulan really commands her chi.

Yifei was perfectly cast as Mulan. I couldn’t imagine anyone being more perfect. I’m sure there are a lot of stunts she didn’t do herself but you can visibly see her doing the complicated combat stuff so I was impressed by her physical abilities. She has a pretty, expressive face so you can’t help but support her. Casting Li as the Emperor was an excellent move, and I also liked Donnie Yen as Commander Tung and Tzi Ma as Mulan’s father.

While I liked the changes Caro has made to make her Mulan different, I think adults will appreciate the film more than children now. It is suitable for the kids, as the action scenes are family-friendly, but the script is a bit dull and uninspiring, with minimal and ineffective attempts at humour, so it feels pretty dry and serious outside of the action.

As I watched it, I thought it was a real shame I was seeing it on a laptop, not a big screen – this really deserves the cinema experience. I really hope audiences still get behind Caro and see the movie, despite its premium rental price tag. It’s probably the best Disney remake so far!

Mulan will be exclusively available to Disney+ subscribers with Premier Access (costing £19.99) from Friday 4th September. Once you have Premier Access to Mulan, you can watch as many times as you want on any platform where Disney+ is available. Mulan will become free to Disney+ users in December. 

Rating: 4/5

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] I was outraged when it was announced that the live-action remake of Disney’s 1998 animation Mulan was going to Disney+ instead of in cinemas and I was even more annoyed after I witnessed its beauty recently. It’s basically a PG-friendly war movie and I dug it. Available on Disney+ for a premium (and I mean premium) rental fee from 4th September. Check out my review. […]

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