MULAN Spoiler-Free Review; "A Stunning And Authentic New Take On This Iconic Character"

Mulan arrives on Disney+ tomorrow, but with a price tag of $29.99 on the streaming service's new "Premier Access" service, is it worth the money...and has it been worth the wait? Find our verdict here...

Mulan was originally set to receive a theatrical release back in March, but for obvious reasons, that didn't happen. Now, Disney has decided to have the live-action adaptation of their 1998 animated classic debut on Disney+'s "Premier Access" service for $29.99, a game-changing move which could signal a major shift in how movies are distributed during, and following, the COVID-19 era. Of course, the biggest question many film fans have asked is whether it's worth paying that to be able to watch Mulan from the comfort of their own home, and the simple answer is "yes." 

While the removal of those iconic songs, a lot of the original movie's humour, and Mushu (the Phoenix looks cool, but is no substitution) is initially hard to come to terms with, director Niki Caro realistic, yet still fantastical, retelling of this story is one that most definitely does this female warrior justice. Following the same premise as the animated retelling of Chinese folklore "The Ballad of Mulan," this movie follows the titular character as she steps up to protect the honour of her family and home (and save her father's life) by pretending to be a man and joining the Imperial Army. However, this version of Mulan has a lot more to say, and what unfolds is an inspiring, uplifting tale of a young girl who finds acceptance and shows those around her that a woman is every bit as mighty as a man. 

Liu Yifei is superb as Mulan, and effortlessly makes us believe in her as both a woman trying to hide who she is from those around her and the badass warrior she later becomes. Like Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine in 2019's live-action Aladdin, it's now impossible to imagine anyone else managing to do better with this role. Yifei is also surrounded by a strong supporting cast, with Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jet Li, and Yoson An (who arguably delivers a breakout performance as Mulan's fellow soldier and love interest) all delivering excellent work. Gong Li as newly created, shapeshifting villain Xian Lang proves to be one of the movie's most interesting additions, though, and her role ultimately proves to be one that adds a lot to what plays out on screen and helps drive home that powerful message of acceptance.

The weak point, unfortunately, is Jason Scott Lee's big bad, Bori Khan. He's just a bad guy, with somewhat underwhelming and basic motivations, and nothing that really makes him stand out (he certainly won't be remembered as one of the great Disney baddies). Mulan does feature a relatively simple plot, so perhaps it's no great surprise that the villain is underserved, and it is a shame the screenplay - which has four credited writers - doesn't delve a little deeper into all these characters and deliver a story that's a little less straightforward. 

Luckily, Caro more than makes up for that with heaps of impressive visuals, incredible choreography, and unforgettable fight scenes. It's a joy to watch Mulan in action, and you'll be on the edge of your seat as Yifei leaps into battle. The final act delivers some unexpected surprises, plenty of excitement, and an unmissable cameo, and this definitely ranks as one of Disney's best live-action adaptations. We can only hope this world continues to expand with a sequel. 

A stunning and authentic new take on this iconic character, Mulan's villain is a weak point, but the uplifting, action-packed live-action remake is a journey worth taking and comes cheap at the price for $29.99.
 

IF

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