Disney had a pair of billion dollar successes in the live-action remake field in 2019 thanks to Aladdin and The Lion King, and the studio must have high hopes for its next big adventure, Mulan. We'd previously seen a teaser trailer that showed just how different this version was going to be compared to the animated original, and now, a new trailer has arrived which continues to make subtle changes to the story we know.
Instead of the ruthless Shan Yu, leading the invading army, we're introduced to a pair of very different characters in Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan and Gong Li As Xian Lang, a powerful witch who certainly had no analog in the original movie. Check them out in the new trailer right now.
While Jason Scott Lee certainly looks tough as Bori Khan, it is Xian Lang who is clearly the more interesting. She's an actual witch, we see her turn into a bird, and we also see a very interesting sequence where she discovers Mulan's secret, apparently before anybody else. While it certainly looks like the core plot of the Disney version is remaining intact, the remake may have more changes to its story overall than your average Disney remake.
Xian Lang's fighting style, using her gown as a weapon, is right out of an Asian "wire-fu" style martial arts movie, certainly an element that might make the new movie look more appealing in places like China. The original story is Chinese, but the Chinese audience never fell in love with the animated version. Perhaps Disney will have more luck the second time around. Although, how popular the new movie will be in the west is another story.
While the animated Mulan certainly had its moments of action, more so than most Disney animated movies of its day, the live-action version is clearly going for a more pure action adventure story than the animated musical. While the movie had some great music that it will be sad to lose, this movie certainly doesn't need singing and dancing to work.
There are still some clear callbacks for fans of the first movie, however. We see Mulan's father praying to the ancestors, a moment that brings about the character of the dragon Mushu in the animated movie but won't, as far as we know, do the same thing here. We see a military leader tell the new recruits that they're "going to make men out of every single one" of them, a clear reference to "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" on e of the more popular songs from the previous films.
A movie that is largely its own thing, but makes a few references to its predecessor, is much more what I'd like to see out of Disney remakes, so I'm more interested in Mulan than I have been for most of these remakes.
We'll get to see how it all comes together in March 2020.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.