A feisty-talking dragon called Mushu helped the heroine slay enemies – and box-office opposition – in Disney’s 1998 animated movie Mulan.
But its upcoming live-action reboot seems to have given the boot to Mushu, going by its absence in a trailer that debuted on Sunday at half-time during the final of the women’s World Cup between the United States and the Netherlands.
Still, the trailer of the movie, which stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei as the titular Mulan who trains as a warrior to defend her country, has drawn mainly raves, with trade publication Variety extolling the fighting scenes.
Lifestyle portal TheWrap described the action as being inspired by wuxia films such as Shadow (2018) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
The New York Times noted the film-makers’ nod to female empowerment, with the trailer playing down the idea that Mulan must dress as a man to join the Imperial Army and fight attackers invading China. Others also welcome the new direction, even if it ditches songs that made the 1998 film memorable.
But the absence of Mushu has gone down less well, with complaints surfacing that Disney has trampled on fans’ memories of the original movie.
In Singapore, some netizens, noting the appearance of tulou – Hakka earthen buildings found in China’s Fujian province – in the trailer, are looking askance at Disney’s conferment of a Hakka ancestry on Mulan. They call it a misguided attempt to place her culturally.
Other stars in the film, slated to screen next year, include Jet Li as the emperor of China, Gong Li as a powerful witch and Donnie Yen who plays Mulan’s mentor.