The most muscular live-action Disney remake to date, and certainly the most cinematic, Niki Caro’s junior wuxia interpretation of the tale of the girl warrior in ancient China goes all out on (somewhat sanitised) spectacle. But while not a drop of actual blood is shed, the screen is drenched in symbolic crimson – a smart subliminal acknowledgement that a film with this much extravagant swordplay should, by rights, be awash with gore.
Caro inherited a schematic plot – Mulan (Liu Yifei) risks shame for her family when she dresses as a boy and goes to fight in her father’s place. But the film-makers strip away the softer elements – there are no songs – to reveal a propulsive action adventure. The combat set pieces are terrific, the scale of the storytelling is epic. It’s a film that cries out to be seen in the cinema. Disney’s decision to bypass a theatrical release in favour of streaming does a disservice to both the film and its audience.