Mulan makes ripples in the stream

Mulan (PG)

There’s obviously a market for these remakes as the box office returns for Lion King and Aladdin particularly have shown. Because I saw the originals so many times as my kids were growing up, and before lockdown had been subjected to them again on repeat with my grandkids, I wasn’t holding out much hope here.

With the global pandemic throwing five months worth of film release schedules into limbo and cinema audiences now limited by social distancing measures, Disney have taken the questionable decision of making the new live action version of their 1998 feature animation available on their streaming platform.

Which is all well and good except every penny of what was obviously a sizeable budget has been spent on making this a big screen spectacle so watching it on a smartphone or laptop is probably not how director Niki Caro envisaged her film being seen.

Mulan for post millennials is different to its predecessors in that the comedy sidekick is absent. Mushu, the dragon voiced in the animation by Eddie Murphy, has been completely written out of the story, giving this tale of a girl in ancient China disguising herself as a man to become a great warrior, delusions of adequacy as it attempts to create a hero for the gender fluid generation.

Disney is all about political correctness and the already difficult project has not been helped by their star, Yifei Liu, posting comments on social media in support of police action against protestors in Hong Kong.

But despite all this, Mulan is a visual treat with what looks like some nifty traditional Chinese cinema wire work (I almost hope it’s not CGI – it will feel like cheating) and some great action choreography, albeit homogenised for a Disney audience.

A bit of blood and guts and a Chinese soundtrack with English subtitles and The Guardian would have been wetting itself over this.

RATING: 6/10


Mick Ferris

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