It is not to premiere yet until next year, but already Disney’s live-action adaptation of its 1998 animated classic “Mulan” has been put through a lot. At first it was minor in-universe issues such as the replacement of the animated version’s protecting dragon spirit by a phoenix. Then there was the controversy when the remake’s lead star Liu Yifei expressed support for the Hong Kong police during the ongoing pro-democracy protests, souring the local residents on supporting the film on cinemas. But Disney has persevered in promoting the movie regardless of setbacks. After presenting an initial teaser in July, a longer trailer has been revealed.
Variety tells us that a full trailer was released by Disney this Thursday, December 5, to showcase more of the live-action remake for “Mulan,” their animated classic movie from 1998. After the fleeting scenes from the teaser almost half a year ago, getting more information out of how the movie adapts the original was refreshing.
The trailer starts with Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei) discussing the figure of the phoenix with her father Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma). Zhou explains the phoenix’s role as guardian to the Emperor of China, while Mulan’s role is simply to honor the family by getting a good marriage. This idyllic situation is interrupted when word comes of northern barbarians launching an invasion of China, led by warmongering Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and his mysterious witch advisor Xian Lang (Gong Li). When the aged and lame Zhou tries to answer the Imperial call for a man from each family to serve in the army of the Emperor (Jet Li), Mulan secretly takes his place, just like in the 1998 animated version.
Already the new scenes showcased in this trailer provide some answers to the changes made from animated to live-action “Mulan.” The talk about the phoenix sets up how Mulan’s spirit guardian is now that (since her actions will protect the Emperor) instead of a dragon, though fans of Eddie Murphy’s Mushu from the original version might not be mollified, more so that the film has no musical numbers in it. It also features the witch Xiang Lang shape-shifting into a falcon, recalling the right-hand bird of the animated film’s big bad, called Shan Yu. She also serves as a more prominent antagonist to Mulan, intimating to her that once her fellow soldiers and superiors learn that she is disguised as a man, they will execute her for breaking the law.
Niki Caro directs this upcoming Disney live-action adaptation which also stars Donnie Yen, Yoson An and Nelson Lee. “Mulan” premieres next year on March 2020.
Image courtesy of ABC7 News