The story of the legendary warrior from the Northern and Southern dynasties of China is returning to the screen next year – this time she’s getting a beautiful live-action adaptation.
Disney is officially in the live-action remake business – so far Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King have gotten adaptations with various levels of box office success. I’m not a huge fan of this trend, but it does give the family entertainment giant the chance to correct the shortcomings of the old animated films and modernize them for a new generation of kids.
The first look at the next in the line up – Mulan – popped up on the net over the weekend. It’s directed by Niki Caro (who won a BAFTA for Whale Rider), with a story based on the narrative poem The Ballad of Mulan. Hopefully, the issues with misrepresentation and overt Westernization from the animated feature won’t be in the live action – the way the story ends needs a lot of unwinding. This first look shows there has been more care taken with the Chinese warrior’s legend.
The cast is led by Yifei Liu as Mulan and includes Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, Gong Li as Xianniang, and Jet Li as the Emperor. It has been mentioned that Mushu (the dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy) will be in the movie, but there’s no voice casting information available right now. Jun Yu is voicing Mulan’s cricket.
We’re all likely familiar with the story, but here’s the official synopsis anyway because it does show a change in tone…
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.