Rise of a Warrior is
the latest attempt at adapting
the classic Chinese legend of Mulan into a feature length effort. The
focuses upon Mulan (Wei Zhao) who substitutes herself into battlefield
father becomes ill. She pretends to be a male, and risks her life to be
supportive of her father, who could die with his illness. It's a story
genuine heartfelt emotion that brings the story to its core.
father is unaware of this move when the bold, brave,
and true-of-heart Mulan rises to the challenge before her during trying
of war and enlists under the guise of being his son. She puts herself
for her father and with great strength and determination she will
legend to her country.
good news about a new modern telling of the Mulan tale
is that it's one of the most moving, inspirational, and heartfelt
could possibly be rendered in film. What's not so lucky is that the
film both works
and doesn't work on a number of levels; i.e. it's a bit of a mixed bag
which won't please everyone, mainly because it's an inconsistent effort
film's story seems perfect for a Chinese epic with great
production values, superb direction, and all around top class
that simply isn't the case with the actual adaptation that was made
around. The film lacks any finesse which would bring the story to those
levels. It's unfortunate because the story of Mulan is a great one and
certainly thus benefit from being translated into
a epic masterpiece. It just isn't
something that you will find with this film; the filmmakers involved
seemingly unable to bring it to that quality level.
most positive aspect of the film; the aspect that stood
out as being most successful within
the entire production was that the performance from Wei Zhao was
impressive one that carried everything forward story-wise. Mulan is a
fascinating character and in moments where the script is trying to
expand upon the
dramatization of the performance, Zhao thus manages to bring forward
the better emotional moments. Her skill is something that grounds it
impressive aspect found in the film performance-wise,
was the effort made by Kun Chen as Wentai, the gifted warrior who
in love with Mulan, whom he learns is not a boy, and while the two are
together and eventually fighting alongside one another in battle the
relationship elements expand between them and Chen and Zhao both rise
in challenge. They made the characters believable and also emotionally
to the audience through their fine performances.
performances felt synchronized as the flow of these
character performances could excel further than expected initially. The
and companion-based moments were compelling and it made the film more
enjoyable, and successful in terms of being compelling.
least the character moments worked better when it came to
the screenwriting of the film actually attempting to be up to par in
some good moments from the performers. Unfortunately, the script was
one of the
more lacking areas, as some moments did work splendidly but just as
many if not
more moments felt forced in writing that was generic, unrefined, and
simplistic with melodramatic dialogue that didn't work.
downside of the film is that the direction was never
far from being only slightly above average. 'Average' direction is not
suited level of quality suited for this story to be told best, but the
is neither disastrous nor overwhelmingly successful.
directors, Wei Dong and Jingle Ma, brought
story forward with some good aspects: the performances were the main
some respect and the framing and visual aspect was a moderately decent
the film's many scene-changes. It just wasn't ever on par, creatively,
world created from the story. I wanted to see an epic film with a
impressive scope in design and execution of filmmaking but it's merely
lot of the time the directorial framing with shots was still a sub-par,
and uninspired effort. At times, the film felt 'cinematic' and
other times it felt like a made-for-TV production simply because the
was not quite as impressive as one might have hoped. The dramatic
the best, though, which is a trait that ultimately benefited the film.
downside is that action-sequences (of which plenty
exist) and other stylistically "abundant" sequences are merely
in filmmaking quality if not even downright bad at times.
particular feels lazy, boring, and redundant with too-frequently
shots of warriors clashing against each other without any properly
setup or characterization, both in-script and directorially. This is an
oversight of the filmmakers. It brings the film down a few notches.
brilliant, not even remotely, but there are still quality aspects of
this film. Ultimately, most audiences will likely find it moderately
entertaining, inspiring, and successful (which is more than many films
say). It's worth checking out for fans of Mulan and for any Asian
looking for a decent two hour effort with some pizzazz.
presentation is a decent one.
The transfer certainly isn't a slouch, but it isn't groundbreaking or
remotely near reference grade either. The cinematography is decently
reproduced; the gray, murky, and
sometimes solemn design of the photography is well represented with
on this High Definition transfer encoded with MPEG-4 AVC. It's not a
great, consistently high bit-rates for mbps, but it does a decent job
remains sharp and genuinely faithful to the film's look in design. The film is preserved in the 2.35:1 theatrical
5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is mostly
impressive. The dialogue is always clean and intelligible, while sound
and bass are well handled for most of the film's running time. A few of
action sequences actually seem to have less well designed acoustical
but the bass is quite strong, making it a wash overall. The music
adds an extra element.
is a 'Making Of' featurette
(15 min.) which includes interviews and some behind-the-scenes moments
showcase the filmmaking and actors/producers/directors taking about
and their thoughts on the film and characters, especially Mulan.
with Cast and Staff (1
Hr. 11 min.) is an extended collection of footage with the majority of
interview footage conducted with the cast and crew. There are clearly
number of minor edits, but this is a lengthy and in-depth inclusion
of the film may enjoy considering the amount of time spent interviewing
involved with the production.
the disc includes the
original theatrical trailer for Mulan:
Rise of a Warrior and some trailers promoting other FUNimation
Entertainment Asian-cinema releases.
Rise of a Warrior is a
worthwhile movie with decent
direction, writing, and a couple of worthwhile performances that help
the entire filmmaking effort. It's not quite as grand, epic, and
satisfying as the storytelling might demand, but the end result is a
is at least decent and which is mostly enjoyable.
It's unlikely you'll love Mulan: Rise of
a Warrior. However, this is an OK cinematic excursion worth renting
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.