Distinguishing itself from just about every other remake that Disney has produced in the last few years, Mulan’s live-action film makes a satisfying case for its existence. It does so by hitting the same emotional beats as its 1998 predecessor, resulting in a film that, like its hero seems comfortable in its own skin rather than relying on audience nostalgia to carry it. Let us analyze if Mulan live-action remake is worth your time on netflix.
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If you are a fan of the original Disney film, the basics are still the same. The headstrong Mulan in real life impersonates a man to enlist in the Imperial Army and stop her ailing father from being sent to a war he won’t return from. But the update makes some creative deviations from the original to keep Disney fans guessing, focusing more on the action and fight choreography while also dispensing with the comedic sidekicks.
In this tale, Chi is an energy that permeates the universe and all living things and can be harnessed by the truest ones. It is a force that grants the wielder heightened reflexes and almost superhuman abilities. But it is a force that can traditionally be only used by men. This change gives Mulan a juicy source of conflict since she has spent her life trying to hide the power, so she doesn’t dishonor her family.
Only until her deception allows her to embrace who she really is, this mythical force also undermines Mulan’s position as a hero who succeeds based on courage, determination, and natural ability as she did in the original. Unfortunately, that turns an inspiring underdog story into a superhero origin tale that is not a deal-breaker but a story we have seen plenty of times before.
The film certainly doesn’t suffer from any of the animated film’s comedic elements. There is plenty of humor in Mulan’s attempt to hide her identity from her fellow soldiers. And the banter between our hero and other recruits is just as charming as it was in the animated form, especially when it comes to her chemistry with the unwitting Honghui.
Putting Mulan on equal grounds with her potential love interest is a much smarter story choice than her flirting with the commander officer Li Shang in the animated version. It created a competitive rivalry that keeps the two in each other’s orbit.
The only part of 1998 original that is conspicuously absent is the music. Caro uses an instrumental version of Reflection in key scenes to evoke Mulan’s growth. The script calls back to lines from “I’ll make a man out of you” and “a girl worth fighting for” as dialogue.
Still, it would have been awesome to get a few more musical cues from the original even if Caro wisely decided not to undermine the drama of what is basically a war film with characters bursting into songs at odd moments. However, the original animated movie is still going to stay with us.
It just feels highly impressive for this remake of Mulan is original Movie to make some big strikes and differentiate itself from the 1998 classic than to rehash a story that we already know and love. For this bold step, Mulan deserves to be praised.
Still, the upside of Chi used as a superpower is that it paves the way for much more dynamic action sequences filmed with confidence and flair by Niki Caro. The script attempts to flesh out the villains far more than the original. The results are somewhat mixed. Bori Khan is no more interesting than Shan Yu was, but actress Gong Li is effortlessly compelling every time she is on the screen as Xian Lang, providing a fickleness that pushes the stakes in the last act.
With sweeping scales, spectacular action, and a dynamic lead performance from Liu Yiefei, Where did Mulan Come outMulan updates the original in surprising, most effective ways while still maintaining its predecessor’s spirit. This makes it the best Disney remake yet.