Streaming on a premium platform is the latest Disney live-action remake which isn’t as joyful as the 1998 animated original. In being derived from a 6th Century Chinese poem and folklore.
Nicki Caro directs a new Mulan which jettisons humor and kitsch in favor of a resolve that underscores the #MeToo movement.
So, no crickets or wisecracking Mushu in what may recall sweeping features like The Lord of Rings and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at least on a visual level. Also Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai in those gloriously rendered battle sequences that brought more prominently to the fore when having to deal with Rouran northern forces.
There is in that instance much grandeur to behold in the conflict when it comes to hold to culture and tradition and unlock a ‘qi’ or mysterious force from within. Even when the Western world can only view it from the comfort of their home.
It’s up to Liu Yifei (The Forbidden Kingdom) to show what the titular figure is made of in Caro’s deviation from what retains Reflections in instrumental form. Guilt, discomfort, proneness is percolating as well as a courage in a preternatural warrior type first played by Crystal Dao.
The New Zealand auteur has demonstrated strong distaff protagonists in films like North Country and Whale Rider and Liu has ample opportunity to take advantage of costume and set design. As well as her physical aplomb in a demanding role.
The emotional core of the movie which is facing backlash because of Liu’s support of police against Hong Kong protesters involves her father Fa Zhou (a solid, if underserved Tzi Ma of The Farewell). The weakened man is conscripted by the Imperial Army at behest of the Emperor, an unrecognizable Jet Li. But, Mulan will step in surreptitIously for him.