Close to a year ago, Disney began their filming for the live-action remake of their 1998 animated classic “Mulan,” after a development phase that started as far back as 2015. Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei (“The Forbidden Kingdom” in 2008) would be cast as the titular Hua Mulan in 2017, to be accompanied by an all-star Asian and Asian-American cast. Following a brief look at the film set last August, there has not been much word on the development of the “Mulan” adaptation, barring occasional cast announcements. But finally, some eight months before its expected premiere, the movie was previewed by Disney in its first trailer.
Vanity Fair reports that the initial teaser for the live-action “Mulan” remake was shown at the start of this week. The trailer aired during halftime for the Finals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup this July 7. On its first few scenes, fans of the original 1998 might feel a tad short-changed, because the remake so far comes across as another conventional Chinese wuxia film, without the musical and the fantastical elements that are easily remembered from over two decades ago. What it does show however is the acting chops of star Liu Yifei.
The trailer shows Hua Mulan (Liu) living in a rural Chinese village of indeterminate time period, freely riding the plains and living a peaceful life with a certain liberty, until her father Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma) announces that she is being set up by the village matchmaker for a marriage prospect. A voiceover of the matchmaker lists the qualities of a good wife, in alternating shots of Mulan being dressed up for her marriage meeting, and her training alone in martial arts, then as a soldier in the Emperor’s army, and finally fighting a Hun raiding party. The gist is that, womanly wife or action-oriented fighter, Mulan actually fits for all the qualities just mentioned.
Starring alongside Liu Yifei are her “Forbidden Kingdom” costar Jet Li as the Emperor of China, Donnie Yen (“Rogue One”) as Mulan’s army superior Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as the Hun leader Böri Khan, Gong Li as the Khan’s witch ally Xianniang, and Yosong An as Cheng Honghui, Mulan’s rival recruit and possible love interest. Despite the absence in the trailer of animated Mulan’s dragon guardian Mushu, he is assured by Disney to still be part of the story.
The original release date for the “Mulan” remake had been for November 2, 2018 but was delayed over a year to make way for “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” It is now expected to premiere on March 27, 2020.
Image from New York Times