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Disney's new live-action Mulan arrived on Disney+ this weekend, for a premium price, and while it's too early to know how successful the debut has been financially, the social media traffic alone has certainly indicated that a lot of people dropped the cash to see the new film. Overall, the movie is getting solid reviews, with especially high marks for lead actress Yifei Liu. I suppose that means we can all thank Jet Li for saving her from potentially serious injury or death several years ago.
Recently, Yifei Liu revealed that while making another movie in China a number of years ago, Jet Li may have actually saved the actress's life when she was unable to get a horse to stop on set. It seems neither one of them has forgotten that experience, as the Mulan actress told E! that Li made reference to it while filming Mulan when it was Liu's turn to save him...
Me and Jet, there’s a scene I actually have to save him. He joked around because we worked on a movie 12 years ago right? That time he’s teaching me how to ride a horse. I have a lot of questions for him. He’s like [with Mulan] ‘This time you are saving me.’
Hopefully, it's not too much of a spoiler to know that Mulan ends up having to save the emperor in the new film. The same thing happens in the animated Disney version from over 20 years ago, so it shouldn't be too shocking. Although, the way that rescue happens this time around is quite different. It seems that Yifei Liu's career has come full circle. 12 years ago she needed rescuing, but now she's the one doing the rescuing, even if this time it's fictional.
Who knows what could have happened to Yifei Liu had Jet Li not been there to help her 12 years ago, she might not have been around 12 years later to play Mulan rescuing him. And based on most reviews, that would be unfortunate. While Mulan's reviews aren't necessarily glowing, they are generally positive, and the performance of the cast as a whole, not simply the led actress, is a big part of that success.
Having said that, while the movie may be good, and be a Disney produced tentpole, those things combined don't necessarily add up to the obvious success that they once did. While the movie is being released in theaters in many international markets, it's only available in the U.S. on Disney+ for $29.99 plus a Disney+ subscription, and as this is the first movie that we've seen go that route, there's really no telling who that will work out. Disney has called this decision a "one-off" but the studio will surely be watching the results to see how well the idea is embraced.