LET’S! Get down… to busi-ness! To defeat…… THE HUNNNNNNSSS!! If the song isn’t already playing in your head like an inspirational anthem to your Friday workout, do yourself a favour and rewatch the 1998 animated Mulan film right now! Whip up some Pisces, dodge flaming arrows, and blow up your general’s tent with grace while you’re at it. Disney’s live-action Mulan is set to be released at the end of the month and we are certainly expecting epic sequences from Liu Yifei’s reincarnation of the legendary character. After all, the film depicts China during a period of war and chaos. But what inspired the craft behind these scenes?
During an interview with Collider on the set of Mulan, producer Jason Reed had high praise for the Mulan actress, citing her extraordinary athletic talent as one of the key factors to the action scenes working well.
Yifei is just… she is unbelievable. She’s been training with us since April . She’s obviously done a lot of martial arts before and is in very good shape but she’s been working with the stunt crew. We have a very high-end athletic trainer that works with us and so she’s been working with the both of them, working every day for months and months now… One of the great things is – a lot of times the stuntees come out and they do the bit and the actors come in and you go ‘well that’s nice’ and we’ll work really hard so you look as good as the stunt people. [Yifei] is as graceful as any sort of professional athlete or any stuntee. She’s just really skilled and works really hard at it.
The producer was also asked about the varying martial arts forms that were peppered into the film and how they were utilised from performer to performer. Here’s what he said:
Well there’s a lot of different techniques because we draw from different styles, but there’s only two major sorts of distinctions. The Rouran army, the Northern invaders has one style of movement, which is a little rougher, a little less refined in terms of how they move. They’re also horse-based as it was traditional with the Northern Nomadic tribes. And then the Chinese Army within it sort of has two styles – one is this sort of traditional ancient military style which is about formation building and moving in coordination and all of those elements of soldiering that were typical of large armies of that time. And then inside of that we have Yifei and Donnie who have a little extra, who can go out and do more sort of wushu influenced arts.
It’s excellent that they incorporated distinct martial arts styles into the film as it adds flavour to the action. Chinese martial arts are all so rich and diverse that it would be a mistake to only use one form in such a high profile film. Imagine if everyone was a student of Wing Chun, then we’ll just see Donnie Yen beat their butts down at the climax because that’s what he does in every Ip Man movie.
Jokes aside, Mulan is setting out for a really great start despite the coronavirus concerns. The live-action remake is projected to collect some $85 million (USD) on its opening weekend despite the lack of the China factor in play as of now.
Indeed, having a cast with a martial arts resume could only benefit the film. I mean, they’ve got Jet Li, Gong Li, and friggin Ip Man himself, Donnie Yen. So, I really look forward to seeing Liu Yifei and co. kick some a** and bring in the cash.
Catch Disney’s Mulan in theatres this 26th March.