$30 for Disney’s live-action ‘Mulan starting Friday on streaming service; should you watch?

Disney’s 1998 animated film “Mulan” follows the story of a Chinese girl who was always told her one job in life was to get matched, then married and bring honor to her family. However, when China is attacked, her ailing father (being the only man in their family) must join the fight. In order to protect him, Mulan decides to pose as a man and join the army in his place. “Mulan” is a beloved film about finding your inner strength and doing what you think is right, even when others may not agree.

Fast forward 22 years. Disney decided to remake “Mulan” as a live action movie. With a whopping budget of $200 million, it is the most expensive film ever made by a female director (Niki Caro).

How different are the two versions? Quite a bit, actually.  For example, the 2020 “Mulan” has no Mushu (Mulan’s dragon sidekick), who was originally played by the fantastic Eddie Murphy. Without the comedian in the live action version, the movie has no real humor, which is disappointing. The musical aspect of “Mulan” was also cut, replaced by a few instrumental songs. Other characters that are missing in the remake include Mulan’s grandmother and Shang, Mulan’s general and love interest in the 1998 film.

The differences are not all negative, however. The live action version gives Mulan a younger sister, named Hua Xiu. Her character creates a contrast and brings honor to the family by getting matched. There is also a phoenix which acts as a guardian for Mulan and is spotted flying through the air multiple times in the film. Another addition to the movie is a word for Mulan’s gift in battle called “chi.” One more change is the addition of a shape-shifting witch, Xian Lang, who fights against Mulan. They are alike because they both have chi.

Filming for the movie began in 2018 in New Zealand and China. It was supposed to be distributed to theaters in March, but due to Covid-19, Disney had to take a different route and decided to release it on its streaming platform, Disney+. Starting Friday through Nov. 2, you can purchase “premier access” for $30 and watch the movie however many times you want after that, or wait until Dec. 4 to watch for free (with a Disney+ membership).

Although the live action version of “Mulan” lacked some of the Disney magic, the costumes, sets and overall message of the movie were enthralling. So pull out your (digital) wallets; this one is worth it.