Over the weekend, Walt Disney Pictures dropped the first trailer for its 2020 live action film Mulan during the Finals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — which the USA won for the fourth time. (USA! USA! USA!) As you might suspect, it’s a live action remake of the 1998 animated film.
Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider), Mulan is the latest in a long run of Disney adapting its beloved animated classics into live action epics with Kenneth Branagh‘s Cinderella; the Bill Condon-directed Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson; and most recently, Guy Ritchie‘s Aladdin, starring Will Smith, which has made over $300 million in North America alone. All those movies are likely to get blown away by Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King when it opens in less than two weeks.
The point is that these movies mostly make bank, and Disney is going to keep making live action adaptations of their animated classics as long as people go to see them. (Not sure exactly what happened with Tim Burton‘s Dumbo, but it’s one of Disney’s lesser-effective efforts.)
The remake stars relative newcomer Yifei Liu in the title role as Hua Mulan, but it also features some of China’s legendary actors in key roles with Donnie Yen playing Commander Tung, Jet Li playing the Emperor, Gong Li playing Xianniang, as well as Jason Scott Lee (Böri Khan) and Yoson An (Cheng Honghui). (She starred in the 2004 action film The Forbidden Kingdom, which was directed by original Lion King co-director Rob Minkoff!)
Directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, the original Mulan animated feature was a musical — one that received an Oscar nomination for its score — although there have been rumors for a while that the new version will replace the singing with martial arts, as seen in the teaser. (A little bit of trivia for you: Mulan was Disney’s first EVER DVD release back in 1999.)
I’ll be perfectly honest that I never have seen the original animated movie — I just have a big gap in my ’90s Disney-watching that someday I’ll need to catch up on — but I love what I see in this teaser trailer, as it looks like something between Hero (starring Jet Li AND Donnie Yen in an amazing fight), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Joy Luck Club, three of my favorite films… plus I’ve long been a fan of Niki Caro’s work empowering women in film, whether it’s Charlize Theron in North Country or Jessica Chastain in The Zookeeper’s Wife. Mulan is likely to be the biggest and most expensive film in the New Zealand filmmaker’s illustrious career.
The official tagline for Mulan reveals… that it’s basically the same as the original animated film:
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.
Mulan is scheduled for release on March 27, 2020, so this is a fairly early first look, which I’m sure will be attached to The Lion King in a couple weeks as well.
You can watch the trailer below and let us know if it lives up to your expectations if you’re a fan