movie review: mulan

Image result for mulan poster

Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) takes his spot — though, as a girl living under a patriarchal regime, she is technically unqualified to serve. She cleverly impersonates a man and goes off to train with fellow recruits. Accompanied by her dragon, Mushu (Eddie Murphy), she uses her smarts to help ward off a Hun invasion, falling in love with a dashing captain along the way.

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‘Mulan’ has always been one of those movies I enjoyed watching but didn’t really love.  I lumped it in with other [personal] Disney disappointments like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Pocahontas’.  But last night I watched it and, well, I kind of adored it.  And now I don’t get why it isn’t more popular!

For starters, the characters are something special.  The only complaint I have about Mulan is that sometimes her voice actress doesn’t seem to be a very good actress. 😛  But other than that, Mulan is a young woman with a fierce love for her family – something even stronger than her fierce warrior skills.  I love her compassion and bravery.  I love her.  And her dad is probably the best Disney dad ever. (All their scenes together make me tear up.  Except maybe the very first one, ’cause it’s pretty funny.)

Mulan                                                                                                                                                                                 More

I can’t get over how much I liked Sheng on this rewatch!  He’s such a well-developed character.  He wants his father’s approval, he wants to protect his troops, he wants to understand this weird guy, Ping.  You can almost see the conflict in his mind when he’s supposed to execute Mulan – loyalty to his country’s laws or loyalty to what he knows is right?

(By the way, I take issue with what that plot summary says about Mulan falling in love with Sheng ‘along the way’.  I personally don’t see that she fell in love with him, except maybe at the verrrry end.  And even then it was more of a, “I could like this guy if I had the chance”.  Not actual love.)

"You fight good." #Mulan

Mushu still irks me at times, but he can be legitimately funny.  And he’s not half as annoying as Olaf, so that’s a definite plus.

The artistry that went into ‘Mulan’ is astounding.  Every time there’s smoke or steam or what have you, it’s rendered so artistically.  And who can forget the iconic shot of the Huns spilling over the snowy clifftop? *literal chills*

And then there are the songs.  They’re a little different than the typical Disney songs because there are no villain songs, no love duet…just two funny songs, the “I want” song, and THE SINGLE MOST EPIC SONG DISNEY EVER PRODUCED. (Jerry Goldsmith’s score is also worth a listen.)

I got "I'll Make A Man Out Of You"! Which Disney Song Should Be Your Theme Song? | Quiz | Disney Playlist

The themes in ‘Mulan’ – loyalty, family, doing one’s duty – all strike a chord in me.  Now, more so than ever.  Which is probably why I like it so much.  There are moments of humor throughout ‘Mulan’ but I think it’s Disney’s most grown-up princess movie.  It’s also one of the most underrated.  If you don’t enjoy ‘Mulan’ and haven’t seen it in a while, I highly suggest you give it another try.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Have you watched ‘Mulan’?  What do you think of it?

Eva

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12 thoughts on “movie review: mulan

  1. Leonard Morrison

    I have somewhat mixed feelings about Mulan. I did find the dramatic irony with Sheng to be somewhat flat. But what made up for me was Mushu, the songs, and scenes with Mulan and her father.

    One example of the comedic part of Mulan that didn’t involve Mushu was “A Girl Worth Fighting For.” I remember whenever the song ends, I would add “uh…. for?” because of the sheer timing of the song’s ending. (When the movie cuts to the Chinese Outpost being burned down.)

    I have had plenty of memories of Mulan.

    Fun fact: “True to Your Heart” was the first song from Stevie Wonder I have heard.

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    1. The scenes with Mulan and her father are definitely the most touching in the whole film.

      Someone once commented that the transition from ‘A Girl Worth Fighting For’ to the burned village was the most severe mood whiplash in any movie. I tend to agree.

      The first Stevie Wonder song I heard was ‘Stay Gold’ from The Outsiders.

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  2. I love Mulan so much; it’s been one of my favorite Disney movies for a long time! The only parts I DON’T like are the scenes with the Ancestors…and yet I re-watched them as an adult and their dialogue *was* hilarious XD Still, definitely on the weird side. Other than that, such a wonderful yet underrated film.

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    1. Yeah, the concept of the Ancestors is weird – but they are really funny. Not something I’d want my little bros seeing though – until they’re older, anyway. I’m glad you enjoy this movie!

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  3. Awesome review, Eva!!!

    Gosh, I haven’t seen Mulan in about 4 or 5 years. It was one of the first Disney movies I watched, after Frozen. I didn’t exactly relate to Mulan, but I LIKED her a lot as a character. I loved her relationship with her father. I adored her friendship with Mushu, and I just plain adored Mushu, period. *giggles just thinking about his scenes*

    And the music in this one is FABULOUS. This is one of the few films where I actually paid attention to the instrumental score! Remember the hair-cutting scene??? Chills, people!

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    1. Mushu is hilarious. Apparently, they got a white guy to impersonate Eddie Murphy for the sequel…just another reason the sequel is blech. 😛

      Wow, you noticed the score! It’s pretty incredible.

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  4. The only thing that holds this movie back for me is Mushu. He’s mildly funny at best, and more often than not a distraction that makes the movie less effective in tone. Apart from that, Disney’s Mulan is really good. It also feels more culturally respectful than Pocahontas, even if there are a couple of song lyrics early on that are a bit iffy.

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