Unlike the original 1998 Mulan, there will be no comedic relief from a wise-cracking dragon named Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy); this time, Mulan is a serious adaptation of a story about female empowerment.
“My intention is for it to stand alongside these amazing reboots of classic animations like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella,” the live action’s director Niki Caro told Yahoo!. “The princess movies have a new relevance, and of all the princesses, Mulan is the best one. She’s kick-ass, and I love her.”
New Zealand-born filmmaker Caro has a track record for telling stories of strong women who defy conventions, through her previous films like Whale Rider, North Country, and The Zookeeper’s Wife.
Mulan is based on the Chinese legend ‘The Ballad of Hua Mulan’, and tells the tale of Hua Mulan (played by Liu Yifei), a young woman in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-536 CE) who poses as a man to take her father Hua Zhou’s (Tzi Ma) place to serve in the emperor's army to fight against Northern invaders led by Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee).
Gong Li plays a shape-shifting witch Xian Lang who fights by Khan’s side.
Yoson An, Donnie Yen, Rosalind Chao, Jimmy Wong, Doua Moua, Ron Yuan, and Jet Li also star in the film.
Besides the underlying story, there is little resemblance between the original animation and the new live-action film.
"It's the timeless story we love, but in live action, it's real," Caro said at D23. "That's the thing I'm most excited about. For people to experience her story in a very real, very visceral and a very emotional way."
Caro also originally said there would be no songs in the live-action Mulan. Fans were outraged and Caro later confirmed that music will play a role in the movie, but didn’t divulge how much, or if memorable songs such as 'Reflection' and 'I'll Make a Man Out of You' will feature. “We're still exploring the role that music's going to play in it, but for sure there will be music,” she revealed back in 2017 when the film was first announced.
Mulan will be released on March 27, 2020.