Review of 'Mulan'

mulan.jpg Mulan (Liu Yifei) is an adventurous girl trapped in a life of marriage and domesticity in Imperial China. When imperial outposts are invaded by Rouran warriors led by Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee) who is aided by the witch Xianniang (Gong Li) the emperor (Jet Li) is forced to issue a decree that every family must contribute one man to fight for the country. Mulan's frail father Hua Zho (Tzi Ma)u, the only man in their family, volunteers Mulan takes the armour from his former military life and joins in his stead. Her training camp is run by Commander Tung (Donnie Yen), a former comrade of her father, and her strong character and talents become apparent as she is forced to hide her sex. Despite not having finished their training the emperor is forced to send the trainees into battle when Böri Khan's attacks increase…

This is a live action version of Disney's 1998 animated film (which is itself based on the Chinese folklore of “The Ballad of Mulan”) but as I have not seen this earlier version I cannot say whether it is a true adaptation or not. What I can say is that there is no singing, and there are no talking animals but there is a whole lot of violence, perhaps more than you might expect in a Disney film, and great looking action sequences. Some of the action wire effects are noticeably ropey but otherwise they are very impressive with the focus on huge set pieces and beautiful scenery.

“Mulan” is a typical “coming of age” story without a huge number of complications with the tension very much focused on whether Mulan will develop her true potential, be true to herself and return honour to her family. Oh, and save the kingdom from the evil invading hordes. There are some deep issues here and coupled with the lack of a whole lot of “fun” I had to continually remind myself that this was a Disney film.

A sweeping and largely serious, though often violent (only a bit of blood), action film (with only a touch of the fantastic) about a young woman finding herself. Most definitely not a light watch but looks great with some amazing fight sequences.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-08-26

Directed by: Niki Caro

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Year: 2020

Length: 115 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure