Mulan (花木蘭) (2020) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Putting politics aside, the latest live action Disney’s “Mulan” is a good film. From the beautiful cinematography to the epic scenery and traditional virtues, the film succeeds in dealing with bigger issues of Asian representation, #metoo movements and simply a film that resonance and connects with the audience. There are many good things about this adaptation while not staying entirely true to the Disney classic. We get an all star veteran cast to support the main role Mulan played by the often controversial, but talented Crystal Liu Yifei. The reality is that the performances are great, the direction is epic and by the end of the film, the audience like Mulan, feels empowered and inspired to the values of brave, loyal and true.
As Mulan, Crystal Liu gives the best performance in her career as she grew from a girl to a woman to a warrior and a leader and eventually someone true to herself. It’s a transformation that will not be easily pulled off with a lesser actress in the role. Liu possesses that unique quality that balance screen presence and physical elegance required of the demanding role. The much missed Jason Scott Lee makes a good account of himself in a multidimensional villain role that he made it his own with menacing effect. Likewise, Gong Li impresses as the witch and produces a matured performance that provides extra layers to the film. Donnie Yen is stoic, yet honourable as the famed general and the long awaited return to big screen Jet Li appears as the emperor with good presence. Perhaps the most notably supporting roles goes to Hollywood’s go to dad, veteran Tzi Ma providing the film with some of the more touching father and daughter moments. Shaw Brother fans should also rejoice in seeing Cheng Pei-pei as the village matchmaker. Yoson An also gets to get on the action and acting chops with decent love interest chemistry with Mulan.
All in all, “Mulan” is an epic revisit of Disney’s all time favourite animation and the wuxia elements allows the film to go full blown on action display. Director Niki Cao managed to craft a film that balance characters with over the top action as well as the usual well meaning Disney messages for its princesses. It’s a film that should be celebrated for its Asian Representation in Hollywood, #metoo movement as such with all the efforts from the entire cast and crew to make this film an entertaining and lavishly beautiful Disney affair.
I rated it 8/10