Galloping horses, sword-wielding hoards, epic battles and daring individual feats of bravery and action. If heart-stopping action thrills you, you’ll find it in Disney’s new live-action film, Mulan, in theaters March 27th. Cardmembers, remember to use your Disney Rewards Redemption Card to redeem Disney Rewards Dollars toward Disney movie tickets at AMCTheatres.com or on the AMC Theatres Mobile App.1 To learn more, visit DisneyRewards.com/AMCTheatres.
Mulan, the story of the fearless young woman who risks everything out of love for her family and country, follows her path to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known. Along the way, she must harness her inner strength and embrace her true potential. She also has to learn how to fight—which means that Liu Yifei, who plays the title role, and hundreds of actors needed to learn as well. “It was an amazing undertaking that required careful planning and intense training,” says stunt coordinator, Ben Cooke.
Cooke continues, “Director Niki Caro and I broke each battle sequence into bite-sized pieces and built them, adding choreography and action. Once we were happy with the sequence, we rehearsed every day until an entire sequence was camera ready. It was intense.”
“Many of the actors did their own stunts, which meant training for two hours daily with stunt experts,” Cooke says. “They started with basic foundation movements of classical Chinese martial arts to keep everything authentic. Liu Yifei trained constantly for her role as Mulan. The volume of fights she needed to learn was extraordinary. She is uber-talented with the sword, staff, open hand, tai chi, fast-paced wushu and also wires and horses. You name it, she did it! One time while galloping on a horse, she had to draw her sword and aim her bow while chasing a team of 10 horses… oh, and she had to act while doing all that!”
One of the biggest challenges the filmmakers faced was shooting battles in three different locations. “In New Zealand, we used both the North and South islands, which are very remote,” Cooke says. “We also shot in China. All locations had large action sequences, so moving our resources was demanding.” In addition, the weather was not always cooperative. “It was very hot in China,” Cooke recalls. “Then, while we were shooting on the South Island of New Zealand, it was quite cold. In fact, we were snowed in one day. We had dozens of horses, hundreds of performers and a whole shooting crew huddled under whatever shelter they could find.”
“But this film is about more than battles,” Cooke emphasizes. “At the start of the film, Mulan is a young girl running around her village chasing a chicken. By the end of the film, she has become a strong, confident woman. Her growth is what excites me most about this story. I hope it will inspire others as well.”