Disney‘s new live-action adaptation of Mulan may be PG-13, but it’s still a Disney Princess movie. While the main storyline involves a young woman going off to fight in a war, this is a family film, which means things aren’t going to get particularly violent, even when Hua Mulan is facing off against invading armies. While that PG-13 rating broadens the potential audience for the film, it also limits the potential narrative scope of the story. For those looking for a bloodier war film about Chinese legend Mulan, there is another recent, live-action option for you. (There’s actually a few that came out in China this year, but this ones seems to be the best.) It’s called Matchless Mulan, and it is a 2020 Chinese film directed by Chen Cheng and starring Hu Xue Er in the title role. Very different from Disney’s Mulan, Matchless Mulan is a gritty sequel story to the beloved tale that leans into the horror and violence inherent in the original legend.
What is Matchless Mulan About?
Mulan is a Chinese legend first transcribed in the sixth century that has been adapted many times into many different formats. Usually, the rough plot of the adaptations remains the same: Mulan is a young woman who dresses as a man so she can take her aging father’s place in mandatory military service. Matchless Mulan utilizes this classic plot, but as an origin story that takes place before the action of the film. Matchless Mulan takes place ten years after Mulan first joined the army and returned with honor. In the film, we meet Mulan after she is back home, a celebrated war hero who her neighbors fear and respect. When Rouran forces once again break through the border, Mulan is forced to leave the quiet life she has reclaimed in order to return to the battlefield and defend her people for a second time.
Matchless Mulan obviously has a much smaller budget than Disney’s Mulan, but that is most movies honestly, and the film looks pretty great. In the clip below, you’ll see that, while the visual effects might not be Hollywood blockbuster-level, Matchless Mulan still has some serious scope and ambition. Not to mention that (unlike Mulan), it is a Chinese story told by a Chinese director. Check out this fan-edited trailer for the film…
Where To Watch Matchless Mulan
Bad news, guys. Matchless Mulan is not what you might call “extremely accessible” to American audiences. At the moment, this Mandarin-language film isn’t available in any of the mainstream commercial spaces that cater to American audiences. We’ll let you know if that changes. In the meantime, you might have to get, um, creative about watching this Chinese film.