We’ve seen Disney go back to the well as the norm lately, with a host of live-action remakes of animated movies from the “vaults.” Ticking off the list so far have been Aladdin, Cinderella, The Jungle Book (twice), and Pete’s Dragon, with Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, the second take on The Jungle Book, and The Lion King remakes really more CGI than live-action, with a few centered on classic villains, including two Maleficents and one Cruella. What other animated Disney films will audiences see adapted to the real world in the future? So far news of pre-production has been mentioned for The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, The Sword and the Stone, yet another take on The Jungle Book, and spin-offs including Tink, Rose Red, and Prince Charming. With more than a dozen live-action remakes of animated Disney movies in production, it’s a surprise to see a preview for one that looks like it could have been a standalone live-action film from the get-go. Utilizing the production designer of The Lord of the Rings movies, Disney has upped the ante for Mulan.
Based on the 1998 animated Oscar-nominated film, which was based on a Chinese folk legend of a young heroine who posed as a boy to fight for her people (The Ballad of Mulan), with a lot of influence from Jin Yong’s heroine Huang Rong in Legends of the Condor Heroes, next year’s Mulan replaces roles voiced in the animated film that included Eddie Murphy, Harvey Fierstein, Donny Osmond, and Miguel Ferrer, instead showcasing a legion of Chinese and Chinese-American actors and a film steeped more in traditional Chinese folklore. In the title role is Yifei Liu (also known as Crystal Liu) an actress who has grown up with roles in wuxia stories, starring in Return of the Condor Heroes, and appearing with Jackie Chan and Jet Li in John Fusco’s Forbidden Kingdom. In the first trailer for Mulan (below) we meet her father, played by Wu Assassins and The Man in the High Castle’s Tzi Ma. Other key cast members include Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) as Bori Khan, Gong Li as the Cyclone Mei-inspired witch Xian Lang, Rogue One’s Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, M*A*S*H and Star Trek’s Rosalind Chao as Hua Li, and Chinese mega-action star Jet Li as The Emperor.
Mulan is directed by Niki Caro, who you may know as the director of the fantastic and inspiring McFarland USA, among other award-winning films. Clearly this is not going to be a shot-for-shot remake as we’ve seen with past Disney efforts. Costumes were designed by Bina Daigeler (Volver, Grimm), and the music was created by the prolific film composer Harry Gregson-Williams. The rich production look is courtesy of Grant Major (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Meg, X-Men: Apocalypse, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny).
Take a look at this fantastic, exciting new trailer for Mulan:
See how a great trailer can help showcase a film? Compare it to this ho-hum teaser from this summer:
Look for Mulan in theaters March 27, 2020.