The full trailer for Disney’s live-action Mulan is here, and … wow. We knew from the teaser released back in July that this was going to be an epic version of the classic Chinese legend, but this looks pretty darn amazing and gives us a really good idea of the movie we can expect next March.
In the beginning, Mulan (Yifei Liu) listens as her father (Tzi Ma) tells her of the power of the phoenix, a female creature who he claims protects the emperor at his side, and he admonishes Mulan that she must bring honor to the family. This sets the tone for the whole trailer: a mix of old and new, made with a bit more reverence for actual Chinese culture and history than the original … but also with more magic and flash.
From the start, we have an element from the original movie in a nod to the song “Honor to us all,” but also, a new element with a phoenix instead of a dragon—and it looks like the phoenix will actually show up at some point, rather than Mushu the dragon, who will not be in the film. That’s a change, but it’s a good one because phoenixes are female in Chinese lore, and they represent rebirth, which is more thematically appropriate to this story.
There’s an evil witch here (played by Gong Li), no Huns (which is more accurate to real history), and no Li Shang. This is not the same Mulan that we know from the 1998 animated film, but there will be many scenes and beats that are very familiar to fans of that film: Mulan being dressed up for the matchmaker, stealing her father’s armor, and training in the army. I’m glad those things are there, and I love hearing “Reflection” in the score.
Oh, and of course, there was the iconic shot of Mulan seeing said reflection in her father’s sword, but again, it wasn’t an exact copy of the original. It’s been changed, and that’s good.
I love that Disney is doing something new here instead of a faithful remake of a flawed (but beloved) movie. This is not a remake as much as it is a new version of the original Chinese story—which is based on a real woman. There won’t be songs or a talking dragon, but there will be some badass fight scenes and magic, which are changes I’m totally cool with.
This movie looks beautiful, and Yifei Liu looks like an amazing Mulan. I’m so excited to see where this goes and what director Niki Caro does on this scale. Mulan is a film so many of us love not necessarily because it’s great, but because of the powerful woman it portrays. Like Phoenix, she’s been reborn here, and so I’m so excited to see a more complex and nuanced version of her onscreen next spring.
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