The Walt Disney Company has been remaking its animated classics, hoping to create new live action versions that stand the test of time as well as the originals did. The newest title to undergo the transformation is Disney’s Mulan.

The live action movie actually cleaves much closer to the original Chinese folk tale than the animated movie did. It’s based on a Chinese folk tale, first presented as a musical performance and written down in The Ballad of Mulan, included in the 6th Century work Musical Records of Old and New. The author of the poem itself, Guo Maoqian, explicitly mentions the Musical Records of Old and New as his source for the poem.

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The story begins in a familiar way. Mulan decides to go to war to keep her father from doing it – a committment to honor that would have meant his nearly immediate death, owing to a bad leg that would not even support him well enough to walk across a courtyard, let alone into battle.

The ancestral luck dragon Mushu is back, but Eddie Murphy won’t be voicing him. The music was originally going to be axed as well, but director Niki Caro has reversed course on this, and has said that there will be music in the film. This is fortuitous indeed, because the star of the film Yifei Liu, known all over China, is an unusually gifted singer and has provided music for many of the films she’s previously appeared in.

The original big bad, though – Shon Yu, you remember him – is being replaced with a powerful witch named Shien Lang. She’s also picked up a sister named Poi Shu. We don’t know how big a role she’s supposed to play, but it will definitely spark up the emotional emphasis in Mulan’s decision to go to war in her father’s place.

The Emperor is being played by Jet Li, one of the biggest martial arts stars in the world. Commander Tung will be played by Donnie Yen, and the witch Xian Lang will be played by Li Gong.

The whole thing comes out March 27, 2020.


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