Mulan (1998 / 2020)


D: Barry Cook & Tony Bancroft

Disney (Pam Coats)

US 🇺🇸 1998

87 mins


W: Rita Hsiao, Philip LaZebnik, Chris Sanders, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer & Raymond Singer [based on the folk tale “Ballad Of Mulan” by Guo Maoquin]

Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Ming-Na Wen (Mulan), Lea Salonga (Mulan - singing voice), Eddie Murphy (Mushu), B.D. Wong (Captain Li Shang), Donny Osmond (Captain Li Shang - singing voice), June Foray (Grandmother Fa), Miguel Ferrer (Shan Yu)

When a war breaks out in China following a Hun invasion, a young girl adopts the disguise of a warrior to take her father’s place in battle.

Based on an ancient Chinese folk tale, the plot has very much been “Disney-fied” here to portray Mulan as more of a California Valley Girl rather than a dutiful young girl who defies tradition to protect her family.

Like all Disney films, there is a target audience for this, and I’m not it, so it’s easy to be cynical about some of the way the themes are addressed, even though it was a film I rather enjoyed.

It isn’t up there with the studio’s finest, and much of the first half of the movie owes more of a debt of gratitude to the classic Pinocchio rather than its original source material. 




D: Niki Caro

Disney/Good Fear (Chris Bender, Jake Weiner & Jason T. Reed)

US 🇺🇸 2020

115 mins


W: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin [based on the 1998 screenplay by Barry Cook & Tom Bancroft and the folk tale “Ballad of Mulan” by Guo Maoqian]

DP: Mandy Walker

Ed: David Coulson

Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Yifei Liu (Mulan), Donnie Yen (Commander Tung), Gong Li (Xianniang), Jason Scott Lee (Bori Khan), Yoson An (Chen Honghui), Jet Li (The Emperor)

Disney’s infatuation with remaking their back catalogue of animated movies continues with this 2020 live action version of 1998’s Mulan, complete with an authentic looking cast for realism.

Unfortunately, the production here goes a little too over the top with the realism aspect of the story and does away with the fantasy elements that made the original film more engaging and child-friendly. This is a far more grounded approach and you’d be forgiven if you were to think that it were directed by Ang Lee.

The basic story is the same. In the face of an invasion, a young Chinese girl feigns being a man in order to go into battle and save her family, unfortunately for lead actress Yifei Lei, the script doesn’t call for her to do much and all there aren’t even any musical interludes for her to even warble into song.

Overall, it’s a very boring film and it just makes me wonder why Disney are trying to con people into watching the same movie when another version already exists and is overall far more entertaining than this.


Yifei Liu in Mulan
Yifei Liu in Mulan