Despite the political hubris, here are two films, whose attributes render the purist forms of entertainment: magically, magnificently filmed, landscapes proving a higher power, extraordinary metaphors universally resonating in this pandemic period; in spite of the controversy bubbling around the mythical “Mulan” or the veracity of the non-fictional “The Eight Hundred” directors Niki Caro’s (“Mulan”) and Guan Hu’s (“The Eight Hundred”) use of poetic license is to be applauded, not appalled.
“Mulan” played with celestial wonderment by actor Liu Yifei is a female warrior in ancient Chinese lore who courageously, clandestinely replaces her father “Hua Zhou” (venerable veteran, Tzi Ma), disguised as a man, joining the Imperial Army, defending the invasion of evil miscreants led by “Bori Khan” (devilishly delightful Jason Scott Lee) and his muse “Xian Lang” (staggering sensational Gong Li); women soar as the nucleus of the film, their male counterparts, especially “Commander Tu”, (preeminent Donnie Yen, “I.P.” franchise), eventually caving to Mulan’s “chi”, are the protons clenching and compelling the aerobically profound action to fruition. Mulan is an avatar, an archetypal heroine, capable of feats, relegated in the past to masculine might, now graspable, by any woman daring to fragment the norms.
THE EIGHT HUNDRED
Blistering, blustering, brilliant depiction of the Battle of Shanghai; the National Revolutionary Army, led by the Kuomintang Party; quarantined in a warehouse, over a four-day period in October 1937, warding off the Imperial Japanese Army. Stunningly filmed, strikingly performed, director Guan Hu endows a huge portion of his prodigious talent, countless hours and exorbitant renminbi/yuan to an epic worthy of saluting, lionizing 800 soldiers and deserters whose extinction was divined from the onset. Remarkably, scenes of vibrancy, pulsate from the Shanghai untouched by the Japanese advancement; scores from the International Settlement watch the bombardment of the warehouse, regaling, reinforcing the soldiers; the Goodyear blimp records the devastation, securing posterity and enlightening the Western Hemisphere; two disparate worlds merge in championing the underdog. Jingoism, tolerated in this emotionally pulverizing legendary tale of Homeric bravery and patriotism.