The empowering story of Mulan is powerfully brought to life in this action packed retelling.
With every new live action remake of its classic animated films, Disney manages to breath new life into the stories being told – shown particularly well in this new adaptation based on the story from the 6th century.
While fans of the originally cartoon interpretation will no doubt miss the songs and certain characters that played a strong part in making Mulan a popular favourite, this new interpretation feels more authentic and filled with plenty of dynamic action sequences.
Directed by Niki Caro, Mulan follows the story of a daughter who takes her father’s place on the battlefield by impersonating a man and entering the army, where her bravery and determination eventually wins the respect of those she fights alongside. Caro’s film is filled with empowering moments of discovery – with the moments between Mulan (Liu Yifei) and Xianniang (Gong Li) highlighting just how much power is in the hands of men – unless women take decisive action for themselves.
It is a film that is filled with drama and action, despite some of the action sequences becoming slightly ludicrous such as having warrior Böri Khan and his outlaw band climbing up and down walls with ridiculous ease. Throughout it still maintains a enjoyable level of excitement and adventure from the start where a young Mulan shows off her skills and individuality by chasing after a chicken which had escaped, showing just how she doesn’t fit in with society all the way through to the climax.
Yet, of course being a family film there are still moments of humour – including Mulan’s disastrous trip to the Matchmaker or when she first heads into a tent to be confronted by many men getting changed, it breaks up the tension nicely without overdoing it. Moments like these are nice reminders of the 1998 film that fans will appreciate.
This being Disney, there is still a sense of grandeur and lavishness thanks to Bina Daigeler’s stunning costume designs which are beautifully vibrant, while Mandy Walker’s cinematography captures the locations perfectly. Meanwhile, for those who do miss the songs from the animated film, Harry Gregson-Williams manages to capture elements of the original soundtrack in his lavish score, but still keeps it feeling fresh and new.
Liu Yifei as Mulan offers a nicely balanced performance that captures the character’s bold spirit but also her insecurities and fears – highlighted perfectly at the camp as she tries to rally her comrades as they are about to go into battle. Elsewhere, Gong Li as Xianniang a character with supernatural powers offers a brilliantly insightful performance that is filled with contrasts that the audience is never sure what to think of her. Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan is suitably chilling – but feels as though could have been used a lot more.
This is certainly a dynamic and adventurous take on Mulan and would be even more spectacular seeing it on a cinema screen.
By Emma Clarendon
Mulan is available to watch through Disney + now.