After waiting 9 additional months (thanks COVID), I have finally seen Disney’s reimagined Mulan while visiting home for Christmas and I’m pleased to report I liked it just as much as I thought I would.
It’s no secret that I have extremely mixed emotions where the live-action Disney remakes are concerned (the fact that most of them are inferior to the original doesn’t help). But from the moment I saw the first teaser, Mulan felt different. It felt to me like Disney had finally hit the right balance of new and old, such as I hadn’t seen since Maleficent in 2014 (despite the title that is very much a remake of Sleeping Beauty and you all know it). My curiosity was definitely piqued by the film appearing to draw on traditional Chinese martial arts films (wuxia is awesome), so I was super excited to finally check the film out with my mom like we’d always planned.
In case you didn’t know, this new Mulan is really, really good. As with any other Disney remake, there are story beats that come directly from the animated original, but they’re switched up just enough in this film that they’re actually an improvement. One of my favorite details is that the songs of Mulan (one of my favorite sets of songs in the Disney renaissance), make a subdued comeback in the form of spoken dialogue. I absolutely loved this, it was great to hear mentions of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and “A Girl Worth Fighting For.” Hopefully the many Disney fans upset (like me) about Mulan not being a musical were appeased by this, I know I was.
But my favorite part of this film has to be the witch. This is not something I thought I would say a year ago. When it was announced that a witch was being added to the story, I thought it was a stupid idea, but that was before I realized that this wasn’t your stereotypical witch. The witch in Mulan is cool! In fact, she’s so interesting, I would almost demand that Disney make a prequel about how the witch got to be who she is, I can tell there’s a huge story there. Of course she’s designed to be a foil to Mulan, showing what our heroine might become if pushed down the wrong path, and I really liked the obvious similarities between the pair.
Another thing I liked? Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan. He is a huge improvement over the animated villain Shan Yu, as we now have a much more defined reason for why Bori Khan wants to kill the Emperor. Also, I wanted to mention him because Jason Scott Lee also played Mowgli in Disney’s FIRST live action remake of The Jungle Book in 1994, and I thought it was really cool to see him in a Disney movie again.
Also, while I’m still upset that Li Shang is absent from this film, I AM okay with how Disney kept in a potential love interest for Mulan anyway. I say potential because nothing has officially happened by the time the credits roll, but it’s more than obvious that a sequel is being set up, and I would be more than happy to watch one.
One final note: the scene were Mulan finally embraces the truth of her identity as a female warrior is so powerful, it made me cry. Those are the kind of moments I live for in movies, and Disney hit the nail on the head with this one.
Mulan is definitely one of the best Disney live-action remakes the studio has made to date and I would be more than happy to see Mulan’s story continue in a future film.
Let me know what you think about Mulan in the comments below and have a great day!
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We loved it too! It was a great film to watch with my daughters (ages 16 and 8) because it showed a strong female role model who went against society to be true to her gifts. Way to go Disney!
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