In Depth

Disney’s live-action Mulan: what we know so far

Latest details on the cast, release date, trailer and more

Disney is breathing new life into Mulan with a live-action remake of the 1998 animated classic - but what should we expect?

Who’s in the new movie?

The remake will star 31-year-old Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, best known to Western audiences for 2014 thriller Outcast. She will be joined by Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Commander Tung, Jet Li (The Expendables) as the Emperor, and Jason Scott Lee (Back to the Future Part II, Lilo & Stitch) as Hun warrior leader Bori Khan. 

Mulan’s three army friends, Ling, Chen Honghui and Po, will be played by Jimmy Wong, Yoson An and Doua Moua respectively.

In a change that may disappoint some fans, the new film will not feature Mulan’s original love interest, Captain Li Shang. “Instead, he will be replaced by a rival to Mulan - Chen Honghui - played by Yoson An, who takes a romantic interest in Mulan as her true identity is revealed,” reports the BBC Newsround.

And according to Disney news site The Disinsider, a phoenix replaces Mulan’s dragon sidekick Mushu. Her cricket will still be in the remake, though, and will be voiced by Jun Yu. 

New characters being introduced include powerful witch Xian Lang (Gong Li); Mulan’s sister Hua Xiu (Xana Tang); and two con artists named Skatch and Ramtish (Utkarsh Ambudkar and Chum Ehelepola).

When is it out? 

Mulan is due to hit UK cinemas on 27 March 2020.

The film had been due to launch in November 2018 but the release was pushed back after Disney reportedly took longer than expected to find an actor for the starring role.

How will it differ from the original?

The official description of the movie appears to be almost identical to that of the original. But the movie trailer, released three days ago, reveals a plotline that diverges from the famous, centuries-old poem on which the first film was based, Ballad of Mulan, as Yahoo! News notes.

The teaser shows Mulan’s parents excitedly announcing that they’ve found her a partner, and depicts a matchmaker dressing up Mulan and extolling the qualities of a good wife: quiet, composed, graceful, and disciplined. The scenes are juxtaposed with others showing Mulan as a soldier - suggesting that her arranged marriage contributed to her decision to disguise herself as a man and join the army. 

That interpretation has not gone done well with some Chinese viewers, who point out that the original poem, composed in the fourth century, makes no mention of marriage.

“It’s not about her quitting her female identity or fighting against patriarchy,” wrote one disgruntled fan on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

“The trailer makes it look like a marriage journal,” said another Weibo user. 

In another controversial shift, director Niki Caro told US-based film news site Moviefone that unlike the animated version, the live-action remake will not feature music, “much to the horror of my children”. 

However, Caro then changed her statement and said the team is “still exploring the role that music’s going to play in it, but for sure there will be music”. The movie is expected to feature instrumental versions of songs from the original.

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