We are less than two months away from the release of Disney’s highly anticipated live-action adaptation of Mulan. Now, thanks to Insider (not related to us lol), we now have more details regarding Liu Yifei and her performance.
Insider sat down with the films Cinematographer Mandy Walker. Walker first expressed her confidence in the film.
“I am super confident, every time I watch the film, I get very emotional. For me, that’s a really good sign. I know the material so well but it still affects me.”
Walker went into detail in regards to how she and director Niki Caro shut those scenes in realtime in front of the camera (including a recently reshot battle scene) without the need of CGI.
“We had 60 horses and 100 people for each side of the battle — so we had it for real, which I think you can really tell in the movie that it’s not just extensions or CGI.”
Walker expressed her love of working with Yefei and shared that the star did 90% of her stunts seen in the film.
“Liu Yifei is incredible. Apart from being a lovely person, she’s very professional. She did pretty much most of the stunt work herself — the horse riding, the sword fighting, the martial arts, the battle sequences, the stunts. We always had a stunt person there, but she trained as well and we would try it with her and, nine times out of 10, she did it, And she did it really well. And you feel that in our coverage because you see her face very clearly in the scenes when she’s doing the movements.”
The films action sequences took inspiration from martial arts epics like Hero and were shot with what Walker called “a rhythm.”
“The battle sequences have more of an elegance to them rather than a violence. It wasn’t just people grunting and bashing swords together. And one of the first things Niki Caro had said to me is that Mulan is the center of the movie, and the movie should be centered around her, so no matter what is going on in the battle or a shot where they are in the training ground where there’s hundreds of soldiers, the audience has to look at her, Niki is very clear in her vision. The collaboration of all of the departments was a single visual language so we were all complimenting each other. We spent a lot of time making sure we were all coherent. It was all part of the collaboration, for instance, we picked a location for the battlefield that was very mono-tonal, so that the red of her costume would be what your eye goes to straight away.”
While Mulan is a live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated film, the film does take a lot from the original poem and myth. We exclusively shared with you that Disney had replaced Mushu (played by Eddie Murphy) with a Phoenix, and that this would not contain any musical numbers. Also a change would be the villains, One of the central villains is a witch, Xian Lang (played by Gong Li), Walker told Insider that Mulan has her own special ability, too.
“Mulan has this power, we call it Qi [or ch’i], Qi is a force that forms a part of any living entity, and can also be translated as “air” or “energy flow,” and is also tied to martial arts. It’s her special power, which means she is actually an elite warrior. She realizes she has this power during her training, and then she becomes one of the elite warriors.”
Lastly, Walker shared her experience working as a female cinematographer with a female director in Caro, and a first assistant director who is also a female, this is something very uncommon in today’s Hollywood.
“The three heads of running the set were women. For a lot of people, that was a new thing, especially on a big film, we were super organized, we did 10 hour days, we didn’t go over, we came in on schedule. And our working days, because we were so switched on and Niki knew exactly what she wanted, were great. We all loved it.”
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.
Mulan features a celebrated international cast that includes, Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”
Disney’s Mulan will hit theaters on March 27, 2020.