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‘Mulan’ Official Trailer: Niki Caro’s Grand Feminist Vision of the Disney Classic

The "Whale Rider" director brings honor to the tale of the crossdressing Chinese warrior.

Disney has released the first official trailer for its upcoming live action remake of “Mulan,” the 1998 animated classic about a young woman who goes undercover as a man in order to take her father’s place in the Imperial Army. The original was a surprise box office success for Disney in the late ’90s, following the relatively disappointing box-office of “Hercules” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Following in the footsteps of recent live-action remakes like Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book,” “Mulan” was directed by New Zealand-based filmmaker Niki Caro, who will bring her fresh vision of the feminist tale to the big screen. The newly released first official trailer promises plenty of epic battles, gorgeous cinematography, and a contemporary bent on the crossdressing tale.

Set in China during the Han dynasty, “Mulan” has recently been reclaimed as a transgender narrative. The titular character is the daughter of the famous warrior Fa Zhou, whom she impersonates in order to become a warrior and defend her people against an invasion. The current Wikipedia description bills the film as a “historical war drama,” perhaps signaling Disney’s intention to delve deeper into the political implications of the story.

Caro is best known for her breakout film “Whale Rider,” which told the story of a young Maori girl (Keisha Castle-Hughes) in New Zealand who is chosen to be the next leader of her tribe. Much like Mulan, she must fight against her family’s expectations for women in order to fulfill her destiny. The trailer offers a first glimpse at Caro’s eye for sweeping cinematography, as well as epic battle scenes that are sure to honor the medium.

The film stars Jet Li as the Emperor of China, Donnie Yen as Mulan’s mentor and army Commander, Cheng Pei-pei as The Matchmaker, and comedian Utkarsh Ambudkar as a con artist. Mulan is played by Chinese actress Liu Yifei, who has already stirred up controversy surrounding the film with her vocal support of the Chinese government during the Hong Kong protests.

Disney will release “Mulan” on March 27, 2020. Check out the stunning first official trailer below.

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