First look at Disney's 'Mulan' live-action remake to mark the beginning of production

Hanna Flint
Contributor
Disney reveals first look at live-action version of ‘Mulan’

The Mulan live-action remake has got down to business and begun production.

Niki Caro, known for her Oscar-nominated Whale Rider and The Zookeeper’s Wife, is directing the reported $290 million film with Chinese actress Liu Yifei playing the warrior Disney princess.

The animated movie was released 20 years ago, in 1998, and reimagined the classic fable of Mulan, a young girl who took her father’s place in the Chinese army by pretending to be a boy during the Han dynasty.

In the animated classic, Mulan is trained up by Li Shang then foils a plot by the Hun to assassinate the Emperor and take over China, before the film ends with the pair falling in love.

Li Shang won’t appear in the live-action remake

However, the live-action movie has removed Li Shang as a character and replaced him with two separate male roles – Donnie Yen as Mulan’s mentor Commander Tung and Ysan An as her love interest Chen Honghui – to the ire of many Mulan fans.

The character has become something of a bisexual icon as some people like the idea that he fell in love with Mulan while she was pretending to be a boy. Disney has never been progressive when it comes to LGBT representation.

There has never been an explicitly LGBT character in its animated films and so far the only hint of a gay romance came rather lacklustrely in last year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast through Josh Gad’s character Maurice. Now Disney has come under even more criticism for casting Jack Whitehall, a straight actor, as its first openly gay character, a character that perpetuates effeminate stereotypes of the gay community.

Mushu will also not appear

Li Shang isn’t the only thing missing from the live-action remake; Mulan’s red dragon guide Mushu, originally voiced by Eddie Murphy, will not appear and it’s unclear if the original songs will either.

Here’s the full synopsis:

Mulan is the epic adventure of a fearless young woman who masquerades as a man in order to fight Northern Invaders attacking China. The eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Hua Mulan is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. When the Emperor issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army, she steps in to take the place of her ailing father as Hua Jun, becoming one of China’s greatest warriors ever.

Mulan is being shot in New Zealand and China and also includes in the cast Jason Scott Lee, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Rosalind Chao and Jet Li as the Emperor.

Mulan is expected in cinemas on 27 March, 2020.

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