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Mulan

Based on the Chinese folklore tale ‘The Ballad of Mulan’ and the 1998 Disney animated movie, ‘Mulan’ truly embraces the word ‘epic’. That shouldn’t be any surprise as Disney hasn’t shied away from producing films on a huge scale. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series comes to mind with ‘Mulan’ looking equally spectacular. The first major movie to be released on streaming this year, ‘Mulan’ is a gorgeous looking movie befitting Disney’s previously colourful back catalogue.

Mulan (Yifei Liu) is an adventurous girl living with her family in Imperial China. When the Chinese Emperor (Jet Li) comes under attack from the dark forces of vengeful warlord Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee), he calls upon his citizens to fight. Disguising herself as a boy to join the Emperor’s army, Mulan’s skills are needed as she fights for honour until the very end.

‘Mulan’ is a simple story well told. Whilst it has thematic layers highlighting loyalty, bravery and family, its uncomplicated narrative makes viewing more enjoyable. Led by Liu’s fearlessly energetic performance, the cast do an excellent job in conveying the army’s code of conduct and determination. The script remembers to have fun as well with the lighter moments evolving naturally from fantastical situations.

There’s no doubt ‘Mulan’s brightest star is the scenery. Using a mix of New Zealand and Chinese vistas, ‘Mulan’ truly looks stunning as the camera swoops across the plains. Niki Caro’s direction is first rate as she handles the action sequences and the pacing very well. The CGI seamlessly adds to the story without overwhelming it, making for a diverting spectacle.

Much was made of ‘Mulan’ going straight to streaming. Whilst it would look incredible in a cinema, those with big-screen TVs should be equally dazzled. Genuine effort has gone into making ‘Mulan’ a big budget production which, like Mulan’s fighting abilities, captures the attention easily.

Rating out of 10: 8

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON DISNEY+

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