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Mulan’ Star a No-Show at D23, but New Footage Shows Phoenix That Replaced Mushu

Director Niki Caro presents sneak peak at D23 Expo

The film’s star was a no show a week after wading into contentious political waters, but on Saturday at D23 Expo, Disney treated fans to an extended new look at the live-action remake of “Mulan” that showcased plenty of action — the new phoenix.

The new footage was presented by “Mulan” director Niki Caro, who appeared onstage as the film’s sole ambassador at the Anaheim, California, convention. The film’s cast was absent, including star Liu Yifei, who last week came out on the side of Hong Kong police and against the massive protests that shut down Hong Kong’s airport. In response, protesters and their supporters called for a boycott of the film.

But there was no sign of worry about the long-term impact the comments might have on the box office fortunes of “Mulan.” Instead, Disney showed off approximately 5 minutes of footage, mainly from the beginning of the film, that was very well-received by the D23 crowd.

First was the live-action film’s take on the “You’ll Bring Honor to Us All” scene from the animated original, though there was no singing, just an instrumental version of the song that plays. At one point we see someone say, “When a wife serves her husband, she must be silent. She must be invisible.”

Next was a scene where a spider freaks out village women, who knock teacups off tables and shelves, only for Mulan (Liu) to use Wuxia skills to catch them with her hands and feet. Until, of course, she loses her balance and everything breaks. Then comes a scene in which the army shows up with draft orders, and Mulan’s dad (Tzi Ma from “The Farewell”) answers the call.

Finally, there was a montage of action scenes, ending with a shot of the phoenix that replaces the dragon Mushu in the film.

Directed by “Whale Rider” filmmaker Niki Caro, the live-action remake stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei as Hua Mulan in a project inspired by China’s Wuxia martial arts films like “Shadow” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

The film also stars Donnie Yen as Mulan’s commander and Jet Li as the Emperor. Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An and Gong Li also star.

This wasn’t the only “Mulan” moment at D23. On Friday, newly-inducted Disney legend Christina Aguilera surprised screaming fans at the expo by performing the song “Reflections” from the original animated film.

Along with remakes for “The Lion King” and “Mulan,” Disney is also planning a remake of “The Little Mermaid,” which just cast Halle Bailey as Ariel.

“Mulan” hits theaters March 27, 2020.