'Mulan' Live-Action Release Date, Plot and Cast for the Mushu-Less Movie

The Chinese hero's story is revived for a new generation.

The first trailer for Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Mulan is here and ready to get prospective audiences hyped. In 2020, Mulan will breathe new life into the centuries-old story of Hua Mulan, the legendary female Chinese warrior who posed as a man to join the Imperial Army and defend her country. With an all-Asian cast led by Chinese actress Liu Yifei, Disney’s newest version of Mulan will tell her story to a new generation and offer up something fresh for fans of the 1998 animated film, which starred Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein, and Pat Morita.

Mulan is just one of the many recent live-action remakes Disney has released recently or is gearing up to release in the coming few years. By the end of 2019 alone, Disney will have released Dumbo, The Lion King, Aladdin, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, The Lady and the Tramp. The House of Mouse has plans in the next few years to release, in addition to Mulan, remakes or reimaginings of Cruella, The Little Mermaid, Lilo & Stitch, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and many more. In short, there’s no sign of the “live-action” remake train stopping anytime soon.

So little has been revealed about Mulan aside from some key casting news — an unusual move, even for a Disney film. As such, let’s take a look at exactly what we can expect from the release date to the cast and characters to what happened to Mushu.

Liu Yifei as Mulan in Disney's live-action 'Mulan'
Mulan (Liu Yifei) prepares to meet with The Matchmaker.

When Will Mulan Be Released?

Mulan arrives in theaters March 27, 2020.

Who Directed Mulan

In a rare move, Disney hired female director Niki Caro to helm the live-action remake of Mulan. Caro is best known for 2002’s Whale Rider. Since then, she has been at the top of the food chain on other films, including 2005’s North Country, 2015’s McFarland, USA, and 2017’s The Zookeeper’s Wife. Caro has mostly stuck to smaller dramas throughout her career, which means Mulan is a huge step forward into new territory for her.

Is There a Trailer For Mulan?

Very little in the way of behind-the-scenes footage or videos had been released months leading up to the release of the first official trailer aside from the first-look photo of Liu Yifei as Mulan back in August 2018. Aptly timed to premiere during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the trailer kept its focus firmly on its protagonist, Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei). Prospective audiences were treated to panoramic shots of the Chinese countryside, the Imperial Army training camps, and Mulan, in her armor, charging alongside her comrades into battle. You can watch the first trailer at the top of this page.

Liu Yifei as Mulan in Disney's live-action Mulan
Mulan, as male warrior Hua Jun, charges into battle with the rest of the Imperial Army

What Is The Plot of Mulan

As reported by Collider, here’s the official synopsis of Mulan:

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.

Of particular note is that the villain of live-action Mulan has changed from the animated film’s baddie. The cartoon featured Hun warrior Shan-Yu (voiced by Miguel Ferrer) as the big bad invading China with his impossibly large army. The live-action film features Li Gong’s Xian Liang, a powerful witch rising up to conquer China, as the film’s villain.

Additionally, it looks like the live-action film has done away with any musical numbers from the Disney film, as well as the anthropomorphic Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy), the ancestral dragon tasked with protecting Mulan on her journey in the animated film.

Who Is in the Mulan Cast?

Notably and happily, the cast of Mulan is an all-Asian cast. The lead cast includes:

  • Liu Yifei as “Hua Mulan”
  • Li Gong as “Xian Liang”
  • Tzi Ma as “Hua Zhou”
  • Rosalind Chao as “Hua Li”
  • Jet Li as “The Emperor”
  • Donnie Yen as “Commander Tung”
  • Jason Scott Lee as “Bori Khan”

Other cast members in Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) as “Skatch”; Yoson An (The Meg) as Chen Honghui; Doua Moua (Veep) as “Po); Jimmy Wong (John Dies at the End) as “Ling”; Chen Tang (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Yao; and Pei-Pei Cheng (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as “The Matchmaker”.

Li Yifei as Mulan on the battlefield in Disney's live-action Mulan
Mulan steps onto the battlefield as herself to face down the invading army.

Is This Adaptation of Mulan Exactly Like the Animated Film?

Not really. Instead, the live-action Mulan draws directly from the 6th-century Chinese poem “The Ballad of Hua Mulan”, while banking on the nostalgia of the animated film. So don’t expect a shot-for-shot remake of the ‘90s cartoon.

Drawing from an original text likely unknown to many of us means the viewing experience will be richer and allow for a more truthful and enlightening viewing experience. You won’t be required to re-watch the Disney film or read the poem in order to appreciate Mulan, either, but it could be nice to go into the film with these sources materials swirling around so you have a better baseline for your viewing experience.


Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan arrives in theaters March 27, 2020.

Media via Walt Disney Pictures, Disney/YouTube