Disney releases first trailer of 'Mulan' remake

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 8, 2019
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Walt Disney Studios on Sunday released the first trailer of its much-anticipated live-action remake of the 1998 classic animation feature "Mulan", as well as the first official poster.

The preview was released during the FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands held in France. Walt Disney Studios captioned the video on social media with a spoken line from Mulan, played by Chinese actress Liu Yifei: "It is my duty to fight."

The first poster of the live-action "Mulan" [Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

The teaser post from Walt Disney Studios' official account attracted more than 300,000 retweets, 20,000 comments and 17 million views on China's Sina Weibo microblogging site within the space of a few hours.

Disney's official synopsis of the film declares: "When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father."

It continues: "Masquerading as a man, using the name Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength to display her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation … and a proud father."

"Mulan" will feature Liu Yifei as the title character Mulan; Jason Scott Lee has been cast as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, an ambitious recruit who becomes Mulan's important ally and eventual love interest; with Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor (not appearing in the trailer, however).

The film is directed by Niki Caro, director of "The Zookeeper's Wife", from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on Guo Maoqian's narrative poem "The Ballad of Mulan", included in an 11th- or 12th-Century anthology known as the Music Bureau Collection compiled by Guo.

The ballad tells the story of Hua Mulan, a legendary woman warrior from the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420–589) of Chinese history. In the legend, she pretends to be male in order to take the place of her aging father in the army, as women were not allowed to enlist at that time. 

She fought for 12 years and received the highest honors, but refused any reward and instead retired to her hometown. The story is still part of the curriculum in Chinese student textbooks.

A still from the live-action "Mulan" [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

There are many Chinese film and TV adaptations of the story at home and abroad. One of the most famous was Disney's own 1998 animation, with Ming-Na Wen, Miguel Ferrer and Eddie Murphy voicing the main characters, although it was a wildly imaginary Hollywood-style adaption. 

The animation grossed US$304 million worldwide and earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations in addition to winning several Annie Awards, including Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature.

Disney's live action remakes often try to reenact original animations to produce nostalgia among audience. However, the teaser of "Mulan" released on Sunday seems to indicate a different approach in that the remake differs greatly from the 1998 original.

The obvious differences include it being better grounded, and missing several favorite characters and songs including the comic dragon Mushu and Mulan's original love interest, Li Shang, while adding some new ones.

As previously reported, to closely collaborate with Chinese cultural consultants and its own China-based team to ensure the film was authentic and accurate in detail, Disney hired legendary Hong Kong producer Bill Kong as executive producer. 

Kong is the man behind some of China's biggest domestic smashes such as "Hero", "House of Flying Daggers", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Monster Hunt" and "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons."

The live-action "Mulan" is set for release in America and other markets on March 27, 2020.

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