'Mulan' star Liu Yifei did 90% of her own stunts in the Disney movie, according to the cinematographer

"Mulan" is available to watch on Disney Plus.Walt Disney Pictures
  • "Mulan" cinematographer Mandy Walker spoke to Insider about her work on Disney's live-action remake, which is now available to watch on Disney Plus.
  • Walker said that the battle sequences were all done in front of the camera and that star Liu Yifei did 90% of her own stunts.
  • Walker said: "We always had a stunt person there, but she trained as well and we would try it with her and, nine times out of 10, she did it."
  • Walker also said that this was one of the first films she has worked on where the three people in charge of running the set were all women: "We all loved it."
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Mandy Walker, the cinematographer of Disney's live-action remake of "Mulan," is very confident that the film will be a huge success.

"I am super confident," Walker told Insider. "Every time I watch the film, I get very emotional. For me, that's a really good sign. I know the material so well but it still affects me."

Walker, who is also the cinematographer on Baz Luhrman's Elvis Presley biopic, told Insider that she believes the film will be such a success because it is "real." She, along with director Niki Caro, shot everything in front of the camera, meaning that those huge battle sequences in the movie were all meticulously choreographed in real life and weren't just magically created via CGI.
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"We had 60 horses and 100 people for each side of the battle — so we had it for real, which I think you can really tell in the movie that it's not just extensions or CGI," Walker said.

Walker also told Insider that Liu Yifei, the actress who plays Mulan, participated in all of these sequences and actually did 90% of her own stunts.

Liu Yifei did 90% of her own stunts, Walker told Insider.Disney
"Liu Yifei is incredible. Apart from being a lovely person, she's very professional. She did pretty much most of the stunt work herself — the horse riding, the sword fighting, the martial arts, the battle sequences, the stunts.
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"We always had a stunt person there, but she trained as well and we would try it with her and, nine times out of 10, she did it," Walker said.

"And she did it really well. And you feel that in our coverage because you see her face very clearly in the scenes when she's doing the movements." The sequences, which Walker said are inspired by martial arts films such as "Hero," were choreographed and shot with "a rhythm."
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"The battle sequences have more of an elegance to them rather than a violence. It wasn't just people grunting and bashing swords together."

"And one of the first things Niki Caro had said to me is that Mulan is the center of the movie, and the movie should be centered around her," Walker continued.

"So no matter what is going on in the battle or a shot where they are in the training ground where there's hundreds of soldiers, the audience has to look at her," she added.
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"Niki is very clear in her vision. The collaboration of all of the departments was a single visual language so we were all complimenting each other. We spent a lot of time making sure we were all coherent. It was all part of the collaboration," Walker said. "For instance, we picked a location for the battlefield that was very mono-tonal, so that the red of her costume would be what your eye goes to straight away."

The battle sequences were all filmed in front of camera, Walker told Insider.Disney

Walker also touched on Mulan's power, her Qi (or ch'i). Qi is a force that forms a part of any living entity, and can also be translated as "air" or "energy flow," and is also tied to martial arts.

"It's her special power, which means she is actually an elite warrior. She realizes she has this power during her training, and then she becomes one of the elite warriors."
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Walker finished the interview with Insider by discussing how much she loved the set of "Mulan," which was run by a female director, a female director of photography (Walker herself), and a female first assistant director — something that isn't that common.

"The three heads of running the set were women. For a lot of people, that was a new thing, especially on a big film," Walker said. "We were super organized, we did 10 hour days, we didn't go over, we came in on schedule. And our working days, because we were so switched on and Niki knew exactly what she wanted, were great. We all loved it."

"Mulan" is now available to watch on Disney Plus for $29.99. It will be made free in December.
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The live-action 'Mulan' has an unexpected cameo you may overlook the first time around. Here's how it came together. 'Mulan' is Disney's best live-action remake to date and well worth the wait
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