Mulan (12A)Cast: Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Yifei Liu, Gong Li
Author(s): Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Director: Niki Caro
Release Date: 04/09/2020
Running Time: 115mins
Country: US/Can/Hong Kong
A bloodthirsty army led by Bori Khan attacks garrisons along the Silk Road in north-west China, aided by the dark magic of shape-shifting witch Xianniang. The Emperor issues a decree that one man from every family must enrol in the Imperial Army to quash this treacherous uprising. War hero Hua Zhou, who requires a walking stick to support a heavily braced knee, prepares to serve. Under the cloak of darkness, eldest child Mulan dons her father's armour to serve as fictitious son Hua Jun.
LondonNet Film Review
New Zealand director Niki Caro’s live-action rendition of the Ballad Of Mulan – reportedly the most expensive picture overseen by a female director – originally bypassed the big screen to debut on the Disney+ streaming channel. From its humorous opening image of a spirited girl chasing a runaway chicken over rooftops, Mulan challenges suffocating, traditional gender roles (“A daughter brings honour through marriage”) and encourages self-expression within the comforting embrace of a family unit…
Scriptwriters appropriate structural elements from the 1998 Disney animation, including a centrepiece avalanche, but Eddie Murphy’s wisecracking dragon Mushu has been excised to strike a self-reflective tone, echoed in understated yet deeply moving performances. Yifei Liu is radiant as the eponymous heroine and Gong Li slinks elegantly through handsomely mounted scenes as a conniving sorceress, whose heart has been blackened by repression. Balletic fight sequences are breathlessly choreographed, enhanced with acrobatic camerawork that tumbles perfectly in sync with the actors.
A bloodthirsty army led by Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) attacks garrisons along the Silk Road in north-west China, aided by the dark magic of shape-shifting witch Xianniang (Gong Li). The Emperor (Jet Li) issues a decree that one man from every family must enrol in the Imperial Army to quash this treacherous uprising. War hero Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma), who requires a walking stick to support a heavily braced knee, prepares to serve, resigned to never seeing his wife Li (Rosalind Chao) and daughters Mulan (Yifei Liu) and Xiu (Xana Tang) again. Headstrong eldest child Mulan openly questions the Emperor’s edict. “I am the father. It is my place to bring honour to the family on the battlefield. You are the daughter. Learn your place!” barks Zhou.
Under the cloak of darkness, Mulan dons her father’s armour and steals the family sword to enrol in the 5th Battalion as fictitious son Hua Jun. Before training begins, Sergeant Qiang (Ron Yuan) demands unwavering dedication from recruits: “Bringing women into camp or consulting with women in any way. Penalty: death.” Unbowed by this terrible threat, Mulan learns to harness her spiritual chi energy from formidable Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) and forges close bonds to campmates Honghui (Yoson An), Cricket (Jun Yu), Yao (Chen Tang), Po (Doua Moua) and Ling (Jimmy Wong).
Mulan is a visually stunning odyssey of self-discovery, threaded with the same heart-tugging emotion as Caro’s 2002 film Whale Rider. Composer Harry Gregson-Williams incorporates melodies from the 1998 film into a sweeping score that gifts Christina Aguilera a chance to reprise signature ballad Reflection over the end credits. Grant Major’s jaw-dropping production design with impeccable set decoration courtesy of Anne Kuljian, enriched by Bina Daigeler’s ravishing costumes and captured as breath-taking panoramic vistas by cinematographer Mandy Walker, deserve to be savoured on a big screen.
– Kim Hu
London Cinemas Showing Mulan
From: Friday 7th May
To: Thursday 13th May
From: Friday 14th May
To: Thursday 20th May
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