In case you haven’t received the memo: there is no Mushu in Mulan, Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of its 1998 animated film based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. Instead of a dragon, we have a phoenix, which we get a closer look in the just-dropped official trailer.
Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei stars as Mulan, a maiden who disguises herself a male warrior to save her ailing father (The Farewell’s Tzi Ma) from being conscripted to defend the country from Norther invaders (led by Jason Scott Lee).
In the trailer, we get to see the other cast members of this epic shot-in-New Zealand production. (Yes, the Middle Kingdom is played by Middle Earth). There’s Jet Li as the Emperor, Donnie Yen as Mulan’s martial arts mentor Commander Tung, and Gong Li as an evil witch who can turn into an eagle (cue to 1:52).
When the teaser debuted back in July, it logged 175.1 million online views in the first 24 hours, of which 52 million came from China. The Chinese seemed to love the trailer even though they weren’t pleased with the liberties the filmmakers had taken with historical and geographical facts.
In August, the movie faced boycott calls after Liu Yifei backed the Hongkong police, who have been accused of using excessive force against anti-government protestors and even journalists covering the demonstrations.
And just two months ago, reports surfaced that the movie — directed by New Zealander Niki Caro (Whale Rider) — might be delayed because of extensive reshoots. But those reports turned out be rumours.
After watching the trailer, I have this weird feeling that Mulan is going to be like a cross between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (the not-as-good sequel to Ang Lee’s wuxia classic) and Netflix’s Game of Thrones-wannabe Marco Polo. But the emotional and sweeping score won me over. For now.
Mulan opens in cinemas March 26, 2020.