Disney’s Mulan remake ground-breaking for female filmmakers, director says

By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Disney’s Mulan remake is ground-breaking for female filmmakers, its director has said.

The entertainment giant’s latest live-action reimagining of one of its classic movies stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei as the eponymous warrior who defies authority to take her father’s place in the emperor’s army.

Mulan features an all-Asian cast and strikes a more mature tone than the 1998 animated original.

Its budget reportedly runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, putting it among the most expensive films directed by a woman, with New Zealand-born filmmaker Niki Caro at the helm.

Speaking at the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles, Caro said: “This is the first movie of its size and scale that has been made by women in the top roles.

“This is a really good example of what it looks like when you let women tell stories at this scale.”

Caro added having an all-Asian cast was “critically important” to the film.

The film’s premiere took place in Hollywood, despite the global spread of the coronavirus sparking reticence over large public gatherings.

The Chinese release of Mulan, which is based on an historic ballad, was thrown into doubt by Covid-19, with cinemas across the country closed.

Barrie Osborne, who served as an executive producer on Mulan, admitted to being nervous Disney would postpone its wider release.

“Hopefully, no matter what happens, we’ll still be carrying the interest of the public,” he said.

“And if they’re closed (theatres), temporarily, when they open they’ll want to see this film.”

Xana Tang stars in Mulan as the warrior’s younger sister, Hua Xiu. The actress compared the impact the film’s all-Asian cast could have to 2018 comedy Crazy Rich Asians, which was widely seen as unprecedented for its diversity.

“It’s a step in the right direction and when people watch it, it’s going to make sense and it’s not going to be something like, ‘Oh, that’s odd, that they’re all Asian’,” she said.

Mulan will be released in the UK on March 27.