Mulan is a fantasy adventure drama produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Niki Caro, with a screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin. It is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated film of the same name, which was based on the Chinese folklore story, “The Ballad of Mulan”. Mulan is about a female who has to disguise herself as a male warrior to stand in for her ailing father. I anticipated this movie with hopes it would be a spectacular story of Avatar-like quality with brilliant special effects. I guess “One out of two ain’t bad”.
In Imperial China, Hua Mulan (Yifei Liu) is an adventurous and active girl, to the disappointment of her parents Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma) and Hua Li (Rosalind Chao), who hope that one day she will be wed to a good husband. As a young woman, Mulan is scheduled to meet with a matchmaker (Cheng Pei-pei) to demonstrate her fitness as a future wife. Mulan is flustered as she attempts to pour tea in front of the matchmaker. Just then, a spider scares her younger sister Hua Xiu (Xana Tang), who suffers from arachnophobia, and accidentally causes Mulan to drop and destroy the teapot. The matchmaker in turn calls Mulan a disgrace in front of her family.
Meanwhile to the north, an imperial outpost is invaded by Rouran warriors, under the leadership of Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee). They are assisted by the witch Xian Lang (Gong Li), who uses her magic to pose as a surviving soldier. She then reports the attack to the Emperor of China (Jet Li), who issues a conscription decree ordering every family to contribute one man to the Imperial Army to help fight Khan’s forces. Shortly thereafter, Imperial soldiers arrive in Mulan’s village to enlist recruits. Zhou is forced to pledge his service as he has no sons but immediately falls over in front of the soldiers, due to his bad leg. Realizing that her father has no chance of survival, Mulan flees with his armor, horse, and sword to join the army in her father’s place. She arrives at the training camp, which is run by Commander Tung (Donnie Yen), an old comrade of Zhou. Alongside dozens of other inexperienced recruits and under Commander Tung’s tutelage, Mulan ultimately becomes a trained soldier while posing as a man to keep from exposing her true identity and to save her father’s life.
Despite a lot of bad publicity about a White director vs. an Asian director, I thought Mulan was a decent movie. The special effects were especially good while the plot lacked content. I didn’t think Disney showed enough interaction between Mulan and her family or friends. A definite loner, Mulan seemed to be somewhat disconnected from reality. I don’t think having to take on a male figure was a far stretch for her. The story is interesting as we watch Mulan hide her identity from the rest of the Army. Being that Mulan is a classic, most of us know the story, which doesn’t change. Between the special effects and the mystery behind her secret identity, Mulan is interesting and entertaining. It’s been reported that a Mulan sequel is in development with Chris Bender, Jason T. Reed, and Jake Weiner returning as producers. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 73% of 305 critic reviews were positive, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site’s critical consensus read, “It could have told its classic story with greater depth, but the live-action Mulan is a visual marvel that serves as a stirring update to its animated predecessor.” Mulan is currently streaming on Disney + — Check It Out!
[MULAN is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best: Visual Effects as well as Costume Design — Totaling 2 Nominations]
The following list better defines the Characters:
Yifei Liu as Mulan, the eldest daughter of Hua Zhou, who defies both tradition and the law by disguising herself as a man by the name of “Hua Jun”, in order to enlist herself in the Imperial Army in place of her ailing father.
Crystal Rao – young Mulan.
Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, the high-ranking leader of the Imperial Army and mentor to Mulan. Both Tung and Chen are based on Li Shang from the animated film.
Gong Li as Xian Lang, a powerful witch with shapeshifting abilities and an ally of Böri Khan.
Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, a Rouran warrior-leader intent on avenging his father’s death. Khan is based on Shan Yu from the animated film.
Yoson An as Chen Honghui, a confident and ambitious recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit, and becomes Mulan’s ally and love interest. Both Chen and Tung are based on Li Shang from the animated film.
Jet Li as The Emperor of China, a wise benevolent ruler, who orders the mobilization of troops via the conscription of one man from each household, to fight the invading Rouran army.
Tzi Ma as Hua Zhou, Mulan’s father and a famed war veteran, who is now recalled to the Imperial Army despite his bad leg.
Rosalind Chao as Hua Li, Mulan’s mother, and Zhou’s wife.
Xana Tang as Hua Xiu, Mulan’s younger sister, who suffers from arachnophobia. The character was created for the film’s plot because the filmmakers felt that “this added a broader emotional context and added more motivation for [Mulan’s] character.”
Elena Askin as young Xiu.
Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang, the fiercely loyal second in command of the Imperial Regiment.
Jun Yu as Cricket, a hapless recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit. Cricket is based on Cri-Kee, a cricket from the animated film.
Jimmy Wong as Ling, a recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit.
Chen Tang as Yao, a gruff recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit.
Doua Moua as Chien-Po, a chubby recruit who joins Commander Tung’s unit.
Nelson Lee as The Chancellor, a member of the Emperor’s council in charge of conscripting new recruits to join the Imperial army. The Chancellor is based on Chi-Fu from the animated film.
Cheng Pei-pei as the Matchmaker
Arka Das as Red Fez, who is possessed by Xianniang to enter a palace which she and Böri Khan conquer