- Corona is still making life difficult for the cinema industry.
- Disney’s real-life version of “Mulan” has made it to the Disney + streaming service instead of the cinema (streamable from September 4th).
- The film with Liu Yufei needs the largest possible screen in order to distract from some weaknesses.
Once upon a time there was a girl in ancient China who was not like any other. That chased chickens across the yard with a stick, danced on the tiled roofs, was wilder than 1000 boys put together. “What kind of man will such a woman marry?” The mother worried about the daughter’s “honor”.
Indeed, Mulan refused to resign himself to contributing to the family’s welfare in the much anticipated feminine way. To play a supporting role at the side of a man when there is a life of its own to live? Etiquette and breeding, when you can let your hair fly in the wind with the mane of a horse? Not with Mulan.
The animated film “Mulan” was Disney’s 1998 attempt to score points on the Asian market with a Chinese cartoon heroine. “Mulan” was Disney’s first ever DVD release in 1999. And “Mulan” brought Otto Waalkes a comeback in Germany who dubbed the cheeky, clownish dragon sidekick Mushu. With “Mulan” a Disney film began with the din of war for the first time. And there were a lot of deaths in this 38th animated film from the otherwise quite life-affirming studios.
Now “Mulan” is back. 22 years later, the story of the Chinese girl from Disney is told again – this time with actors. In the fifth century AD, Mulan took the place of her old father and followed the order of the emperor that every family should provide a representative for the army in order to save the country from conquerors.
Because girls are a no-go in the imperial military, Mulan disguises himself as a man. She fights harder than 1000 men. And save the empire. It was only a matter of time before this cartoon original also got a so-called “live-action remake”. Disney discovered this business idea in the mid-1990s (“Jungle Book”, “101 Dalmatians”), and the new films were recently pounding on the cinema in almost rapid succession.
The House of the charges a proud surcharge
And it’s a shame that the House of the Mouse – driven by corona – decided to hide “Mulan” in its streaming service. For an entry fee of 21.99 euros (in addition to the subscription price), after which the film then belongs to Disney + customers like a DVD (unfortunately without the haptic possession experience), you can be one of the first to see “Mulan”.
Of course, for the high price you only got a head start over normal Disney + users, who will see the film for free after the usual theatrical release period (apart from the subscription fee). For the bright colors of the uniforms and traditional costumes, even more for the breathtaking battle ballets and fighting dances of this film, especially for Liu Yifei’s whirling, no screen would have been big enough. According to cinematographer Mandy Walker, the 33-year-old, who was born in Wuhan, did 90 percent of her stunts herself.
There has already been a real-life Chinese film. And as in “Mulan – Legende einer Kriegerin” (2009), the roar of the soldier sometimes obstructs the view of the drama, the look of the armor in both films is plastic. Vicky Zhao Wei played the heroine’s conflict as solidly then as Liu Yifei does today. Otherwise the figures are purely function-driven and kept simple this time.
The father (Tzi Ma) is kind, the emperor (Jet Li) wise, the commander (Jason Scott Lee) a creaking police head, the chief of the Rouran people (Jason Scott Lee), a one-dimensional supervillain, who often walk in slow motion. A little more depth of character would have been good, but only Yoson An as the distinctive Chen Honghui, Mulan’s comrade with a romantic touch, and Gong Li as the imposing witch Xian.
Mushu is missing – the sidekick for the Disney-like. The quartet of writers around the New Zealand director Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”) did not want to confuse Chinese culture with a faxing dragon. Legendary creatures are still brought up:
A phoenix rushes through the picture like a colorful paper kite whenever Mulan needs Schneid – in China the resurrection bird is a symbol of prosperity and peace. And what’s more, the witch with her shapeshifting tricks creates visual sensations. But without Mushu, “Mulan” is simply too serious, and there is a lack of sophistication for serious drama.
The ending leaves everything open for a sequel
“Mulan 2” was released on DVD in the noughties, the not-so-bombastic sequel. In it, the heroine was supposed to escort three princesses to their (involuntary) wedding, which raises their sense of justice and changes the history of China. The current end of the film also leaves the possibility of a sequel open.
Let’s see whether the Disney treasury will give it after the winnings have been distributed, or whether the “Boycot Mulan” appeal catches on after leading actress Liu Yifei stood against the demonstrators there with her “I support Hong Kong Police” last year.
In addition to “I don’t know about anything”, this is not an unusual attitude among Chinese artists who want to continue their profession at home. With this, however, Lui Yifei had opposed her film character’s ideals of freedom. “There is no courage without fear” is the central message of the film.
“Mulan”, director: Niki Caro, with Liu Yifei, Yoson An, Gong Li, Jet Li, 116 minutes (can be streamed for an additional charge from September 4th)