Yes, I know, I’m a little late to the party for Disney’s latest live-action remake, but with so many movies released over the festive period on Netflix, it took longer than expected to get round to those Disney+ exclusives.
Mulan quickly sets about distancing itself from its animated counterpart, using some not particularly child-friendly action scenes and a voice over detailing Mulan’s powerful chi, which is used throughout the movie as a stand-in term for magical abilities.
The first few scenes did little to inspire any excitement for what was to come, although once we’re introduced to Yifei Liu as now-adult Mulan, the movie almost instantly shifted into what it needed to be.
Mulan is a beautifully presented movie throughout in its visuals, its action sequences, and its epic score, all of which serve to immerse the viewer in the experience, and as the plot develops, you’ll quickly find yourself enjoying far more than you expected to.
Mulan boasts an entirely Asian cast, which shouldn’t really ever have been up for debate, but with major cinematic releases there’s always concerns of whitewashing and westernizing, something which is thankfully absent.
That isn’t to say that Mulan is culturally sound. It has faced some backlash from Chinese audiences for its inaccurate depiction of Chinese history and cultural elements, but as long as you take the movie’s “history” with a liberal pinch of salt, you’ll undoubtedly find Mulan to be one of the most enjoyable live-action remakes in a long while.
What Mulan gets right is the blending of genres. Lifting much of the story from the 1998 movie and mixing in a few more elements of Chinese folk tale the Ballad of Mulan make for a movie that’s at once family-friendly, action-packed and emotionally weighted.
Mulan walked a difficult line. Trying to balance an entire nation’s culture and history against telling a story that can be relatable to a worldwide audience, all while keeping it relatively PG and staying true to the story’s roots was never going to be an easy task, but this latest live-action Disney movie just about checks all the boxes.
It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s one that you’ll come away from entertained, and – unless you’re actively seeking to criticize it – satisfied.
Summary: Less a remake and more a re-imagining, Mulan does away with the more childish elements of its animated predecessor, trading them for impressive production values, solid acting, and exciting action sequences.