A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.Written by Disney
If you were a fan of the 1998 animated film version of Mulan, this 2020 live-action feature is the perfect adaptation without being a carbon copy. I was curious to know if it would still hold up without the joyful musical selection and charismatic character Mushu played by Eddie Murphy, and it did by going far beyond some fun-filled adventure for children. If you’re also into martial arts there’s a surplus of hand-to-hand action to satisfy you as well. While the fights aren’t the best choreographed that we’ve seen on any screen, they’re still high enough in standard to get the juices flowing especially with popular actors from Asian cinema behind all the punches and blows.
The titular character for Mulan played by Yifei Liu (The Forbidden Kingdom) was perfect in all forms. She had the look, the physicality, and all the necessary acting skills to sell herself as a noble warrior. While her character was a handful early on, her role was a great example of how some people find it difficult to confine themselves to the everyday standards of a given culture. It was clear that Mulan is someone whose sole purpose in life was to shine. The additions of Donnie Yen as Commander Tung and Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan also delivered the goods as well. Both are clashing on opposing sides than the other for good versus evil, and the film created a great balance showcasing this conflict. With me being a bigger fan of Donnie Yen, one disappointment for the film was the lack of use for the character. He had his fair share of screen time, but I just wanted more. I mean, it’s Donnie Yen for crying out loud!
As far as the action is concerned it by far reached my expectations (which were admittedly very low for reasons unknown). As stated before, I have seen better martial arts films, but this one still holds weight, and I can see myself going back for multiple viewings for not just a great film, but to get a high from a few fight scenes that made me feel good inside. I thought the battle tactics were well thought out, strategic, and planned, and the use of fantastical abilities was sewn in with great accuracy without appearing too unbelievable for someone not familiar with this form of entertainment. Such as characters running up walls, transforming into animals, or possessing unusual levels of strength. It was an easy transition for me, but maybe somewhat jarring for others.
I respect dearly the overall story of Mulan. A young woman wanting to represent and protect her family based on her own personal beliefs and culture. What this film teaches may be simplistic to some, but at its core, the foundation is to fight for what you believe in no matter the cost. This sums up the character Mulan in a nutshell, and I can get behind any character with that much passion and motivation.
I’m not an expert on Chinese culture, but from the little I know I thought the production team did a fantastic job. The costumes appeared accurate (from what I know), and the set designs were filled with detail which made you feel as if you were there. It Is very clear that a lot of time was spent to get everything just right, and from these lenses, they nearly knocked it all out of the park.
I enjoyed Mulan as much as I enjoyed the original 1998 animated film. While there were a few nitpicks here and there, it’s still a film I would recommend to others, and would happily see in theaters given the option. This film doesn’t fall into the best category, but more of a personal favorite of mine given the context of action and hand-to-hand fighting. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, but I can’t honestly say there were large or even small portions that turned me off entirely to give a lower score.