Sensitive take on war heroine

08:38, December 07, 2009      

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Mulan, a household name in China, is the heroine of an ancient Chinese folktale, who takes her father's place on the battlefield.

The story was adapted into a popular Disney animation almost a decade ago and now Hong Kong director Jingle Ma Chou-sing presents it with real actors. The movie opened last weekend and has already grossed more than 300 million yuan.

The live action version of Mulan avoids glorifying the young woman. Instead, it portrays and focuses on her vulnerabilities and love affairs. Many viewers shed tears as a terrified Mulan confronts the death of her comrades.

"In both the animation and the folktale, Mulan is shown as a hero who is brave and cheerful in the face of a cruel and bloody war. But [here] she is shown experiencing deep emotions when facing death and love," said a fan.

The director, who is known for his romantic movies, has been quoted as saying: "Traditionally, Mulan [has been regarded] as a great heroine but I think she is a woman."

Mainland actress Zhao Wei, who has starred in Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer and John Woo's Red Cliff, plays Mulan. Known for her good looks and boyish demeanor, Zhao dons heavy helmet and armor for the movie, with dirt and blood on her face. To play the role, the 30-year-old actress underwent horse and combat training.

The relationship between Mulan and general Wentai, played by mainland actor Chen Kun, is an important part of the movie and her devastation on hearing that Wentai had died in battle, is moving. Chen's role ably supports and propels the development.

The barbarian, played by the mainland's Hu Jun (Red Cliff), however, disappoints. Mulan's puppy-like sidekick Tiger, played by Jaycee Chan (son of Jackie Chan), provides the movie's comic relief.

Russian pop singer Vitas lends his voice for a guest role in the movie by playing a singer from a distant land held hostage by the nomadic and militant tribe.

Hong Kong actor-director Stephen Fung Tak-lun's third movie, Jump, opens this weekend. It tells the story of a country girl who hopes to make it big in showbiz with hip-hop. Endowed with neither good looks nor money, the girl relies on hard work and faith to eventually realize her dream.

The story idea came from veteran Hong Kong comedian and director Stephen Chow. The movie was completed two years ago but following the lead actor Edison Chan's sexual scandal. Jump was not released until the team found another actor to replace Chan and reshot the scenes.

The 35-year-old director says this unexpected development could have killed the project but with the help of Chow, he finally made it.

Other films showing at cinemas citywide include: Twilight, District 9, G-Force, Panda Express, The Robbers and 2012

Source: China Daily
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