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The animated Disney movies you watched on VHS as a kid (and had to rewind again and again) are getting live-action upgrades. The Lion King is pouncing into theaters this Thursday, and Mulan is riding in next — but is this Mushu-free version going to ruin everything awesome from the '90s version?
SYFY WIRE doesn't think so. If the trailer is any indication, this version, starring Donnie Yen, Yifei Liu, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, and Li Gong, is a martial arts spectacle that stays true to Disney's original take on the legend while bringing it into reality. There's a reason why talking dragons and crickets don't exactly fit into that.
You may already be familiar with Wuxia and not even know it. Movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers both incorporate this Chinese style of filming, which literally translates to "martial heroes." The genre is based in ancient China, characterized by sweeping cinematic shots that follow the adventures of martial artists. Yifei Liu (Mulan) has been working in this style for her entire career, so don't mess with her.
Mulan is not just a live-action translation of the 1998 animated feature but a Wuxia war movie, forging its own identity while staying true to the story about the heroine who disguised herself as a man to take her father's place in battle.
This is why Mushu really doesn't fit in here. You know those uncanny-valley-type CGI characters that you see in The Lion King? The ones that make you wonder whether they're actually real or not real even though your brain tells you there is no way lions can hold a conversation in English? It would be kind of weird to have a trickster dragon (as entertaining as he might be) setting off fireworks in the middle of an epic adventure.
Mushu still on your mind? Keep watching, because you will be convinced.
This article was contributed to by Elizabeth Rayne.