3 1/2 out of 4 stars
The live-action “Mulan” is every bit as much of a spectacle as its 1998 animated predecessor.
Helmed by Niki Carol (“Whale Rider,”) the film deserves at the very least an Oscar nod for its gorgeous production.
When the armies of Rouran (Jason Scott Lee plays their leader) attacks the warriors of The Emperor (Jet Li,) a powerful witch (Gong Li) is on hand to assist.
The Emperor asks every village in China to send at least one man to help. Mulan’s father bravely prepares for battle.
In the meantime, we watch Mulan (Liu Yifei as the adult Mulan) grow up. Although she is supposed to be matched for marriage, this is not part of her dream.
She disappears, along with her father’s cherished sword, and passes herself off as a young man.
Not far away flies the phoenix, guardian of Mulan’s village, which gives Mulan strength to continue her facade as a warrior.
She trains under the watchful eye of Commander Tung (Donnie Yen), who is so impressed with the “young man” that he considers introducing her as a match for his own daughter.
Mulan’s lie becomes more and more difficult to continue, especially after she forms a friendship with another soldier.
Yes, this is a story of female empowerment, but with the added challenges of dishonesty and secrecy tearing apart Mulan.
Parents should take note: The film is rated “PG-13” instead of “PG” for its fight scenes. There is nothing exploitative about them, but they’re more intense than what we normally see in a Disney movie.
This is a far cry from a princess movie, but it contains similar themes about young women coming into their own. It will appeal to any age of viewer because of its moving story line, action and all-around good looks.
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the price of this movie streaming only on Disney+. It’s $30 for those who have the streaming service.
For a family, it’s a great deal. And it’s even worth it for solo Disney-philes.