Mulan - The live action movie

No cast announced, but Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are rewriting the script.

Tentatively set for November 2, 2018.

The animated version bombed in China back in 1999, but conditions were very different. Disney’s reach in China had been seriously curtailed due to the pro-Tibet film Kundun pissing off the censors, and the “westernization” of Mulan’s story didn’t sit well with the audience.

Now that China is a huge focus for Hollywood, they’re paying more attention to this stuff. One of the complaints China has had recently is that they’ve grokked to Hollywood just sticking a Chinese actor into a blockbuster to check a box. (They’re called “empty vases” by the Chinese.) I would expect Disney to be sensitive to that and place as many Chinese actors in this as possible.

Here’s the conundrum. Hua Mulan, in the poem and folktale, isn’t about a fierce girl taking charge of her life and living large. It’s about a girl doing her duty for her family, then hanging her warrior garb up and becoming a dutiful and complacent wife. (Later versions even have her commit suicide at the end of the story.) It’s a lesson about filial piety, modesty, and honor.

So, how do you turn Mulan, the cartoon we know, into a live-action version that attracts a Chinese audience without being too Chinese for the US?

Shoot 2 endings.

I can’t fault the rationality of this frank answer, but what a bad trend that could set! Us Australians would like to see a Koala in the movie, can we have a special third ending too featuring one of those? How about comedies that localise many of the jokes so that Americans can have gentle fun at the expense of the Canadians, Australians at the expense of New Zealanders, and China at the expense of Japan all with the one production? Or versions of movies that fiddle with footage to cater to specific demographics (more b00bz for the special man edition thx)?

At the end of the day Disney will (hopefully) have to accept that you can’t actually make movies that profit from every living human being, and then pick a single vision for each movie individually.

Before anyone says cultural appropriation, they should just watch the recent Chinese version of Mulan the folktale heroine first. The titular heroine is played by Zhao Wei, who is a member of the jury in this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

I reckon they should go all in like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: make it as “Chinese” as possible, and rely on real meat like great action scenes to attract the American audience.

I was sort of cynical, but studios already shoot alternative endings in some cases even making a decision based on focus groups reactions. So why not take one more step, and get all the money.

Kind of torn about this one. It looks pretty different.

See now I’m looking at that and am very down with what it shows.

I generally want less slavish devotion to the source animated movies. And going into some Hong Kong style action is always a plus for me. In fact I would love if this was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Disney

Agreed. Mulan is one of my wife’s favourite Disney movies. She is also a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fan.

She, my daughter and I enjoyed the trailer and will very likely be going to see this one (which is more than can be said of other live action remakes).

The English dialogue made my skin crawl. Just like the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequal, also in English. I reckon nowadays people are generally culturally diverse enough to want to listen to Mandarin with English subs. Or Japanese movie in Japanese with English subs etc.

I know, technically this isn’t a Chinese movie but cultural appropriation by Disney. To insist on English dialogue is more evidence of cultural appropriation.

This trailer is bad IMO on so many levels.

I don’t know that it’s a must-watch for me or anything, but this trailer makes me think the story could work way better as a live action movie than as a cartoon. Unlike all the other movie Disney is live-i-fying.

@Soma – I feel like you’re wanting this to be a totally different movie than it’s going to be. You’ve heard of Disney, right?

I know Disney is what it is. It made Aladdin and then make it again, this time live-action. Beauty and the Beast and so on. That doesn’t mean we have to like this practice.

I don’t mind them speaking english, the weird thing there is the mixture of accented and un-accented english. It makes the accented english sound like it’s being done for laughs.

They need like 10x the number of soldiers in the wide training shots.

Exactly. These live action remakes have been superfluous garbage by and large, the direct-to-video sequel of the new millenium, but this one actually makes a sort of sense in isolation. Dump the Eddie Murphy dragon and ground the whole thing a bit and you’ve potentially got something. The trailer, though, does seem to be leaning a bit on the cartoon aesthetic, which may not be a great sign.