Disney (Wednes)Day: Mulan

You guys, I’m actually pretty excited about watching Mulan for the first time. Not sure why but I’ve read some bits and pieces about it here and there so it’ll be interesting to see how things relate to that. Anyway, Mulan was released in 1998 which is also the time I left primary school.

We open at the Great Wall of China where a single guard gets overpowered by the Huns. This is not fair game, the Huns looks wild and are GIGANTIC in comparison. At least poor Guard Guy manages to light the fires of Gondor on fire to alarm the rest of the country of the arrival of the Huns.

Next, the Emperor, sitting in his great hall (seriously, I get all the Lord of the Rings flashbacks in these early minutes), gets informed of the bad news.

Cut to a girl writing Chinese letters on her arm while sitting on her bed. We get a shot of a man praying in what looks like a private mausoleum. He hopes for Mulan to finally impress the Matchmaker and I give my first eye roll of the film. Mulan, being a little late, gets send to the city to actually meet up with the Matchmaker.

In the city two women talk to each other. I’m assuming one is Mulans’ mother, the other the grandmother. They’re taking about lucky charms and Grandma Mulan shows off her lucky cricket, proving her luck by walking through traffic with her eyes closed. Matchmaking and superstition, wheeeee! When Mulan finally arrives at the scene. She gets scolded by her mother. Then we get a montage of her getting ready while she sings a song.

After being called into the Matchmaker’s office, Mulan gets looked up and down. Sadly though, she is very clumsy and doesn’t charm the Matchmaker. Adding insult to injury, the Matchmaker tells her she will never bring honour to her family. I don’t think this is the right way to talk to a young person or anyone for that matter but okay. Different times, different customs. It still saddens me deeply that young people have to /had to be subjected to this sort of thing.

Mulan looks so sad when she gets home where she sings a sad song about being herself and how she can’t actually be herself because it would break her family’s heart. Naturally I take that to mean she is gay because I want to see it that way.

Mulan and her father have a heart to heart and my own poor heart. Then we hear drums, a man on a horse appears and we learn that a man from each family is selected to go into war against the Huns. Seeing as how Mulan is a girl, her father gets drafted only he is old and frail. He already went to war before and limps now. Mulan tries to peak up for her father but she gets shushed because women are not to have opinions or something. I hate this. Also, the reason why she messed up so badly is that stupid cricket her grandmother put on her so can we please blame those instead of the poor girl?!

 

The Father goes into his weapon/armour room where he tries to fight the shadows lurking in the dark with his sword but he can’t stay up very long. This is so unfair, well, war is never fair. Sometimes it hits me that I’m living in a country that has been war-free for the longest time of its existence. Europe has been peaceful for almost 70 years now which is unique in history. Anyway.

 

After crying her poor little heart out, Mulan makes an executive decision while some very 90s sounding music is played in the background. She cuts off her hair, puts on her father’s armour and leaves home. Her grandma wakes up and knows immediately that Mulan is gone. Of course the family doesn’t approve of this decision but there is nothing they can do about it.

Grandma calls for the ancestry so we cut to a gravestone?! I’m not entirely sure what this is supposed to be. A room full of spirits, stone statues and a very alive small dragon. The Great Stone Dragon is supposed to be awakened to safe Mulan or something. Like I said, I don’t really understand what is going on half the time of this scene. The small red dragon is going about this task only he manages to let the statue crumble to pieces so he sets off himself to go make Mulan the finest hero he can. By his side is the lucky cricket because every girl needs great sidekicks.

War times! Some Chinese warriors fight Crazy Eyes and his Hun gang. His personal sidekick is an eagle btw.

Mulan practices being a man and it’s adorable. Small red Dragon appears to impart some of his wisdom on her.

At the camp for warriors who go into war, a young lad appears in scene and I’m pretty sure he is supposed to be Mulan’s love interest because obviously. The guy gets to be Captain of the platoon that Mulan is going to be in. It’s almost as if I’m psychic (or maybe it’s just having seen so many of these Disney movies).

Not surprisingly, Mulan has made a mess out of her introduction to the other guys, their first day at training. Well, lets just say there is room for improvement and again Small Red Dragon was offering advice that turned out to be utter crap. With time, Mulan gets better at training.

Crazy Hun Eyes time. The Huns deduce the shit out of a little doll the found lying around. I swear, CSI has nothing on them! So now they know where the Imperial Army is waiting for them.

Mulan is taking a bath in a lake minding her own business when suddenly the other guys from her platoon come running into the water. This could end really bad but with the help of Small Red Dragon, who pretends to be a snake, she escapes this potential devastating moment. She says she “never wants to see a naked man again” Lol, I hear you, sister!

44 minutes into this movie, it is first acknowledged that Mulan likes the Captain. Okay. I was so much faster with that deduction.

SRD makes up an urgent call from the General, the Captain’s father, so off they all go into battle. While marching, the guys sing a song about the girls they are fighting for because they’re hoping to get back home to them. Mulan is very uncomfortable with this whole thing. No worries, we’ve all been there, trying not to let everyone see the gay. For me it was dancing with other girls in clubs, I was so afraid it would look too gay so I stayed extra far away.

The fun ends when they come across a completely destroyed village. Mulan finds the doll Crazy Hun Eyes used before. The Captain wonders where the General and his platoon was so we get a shot across the abyss and there they are. All slaughtered to death. Captain mourns his father shortly and off the go again only way more somber than before.

SRD sets off a rocket by accident, thus revealing their location to the Huns. They are immediately showered in arrows and rocks thrown at them. Then Crazy Hun Eye and his gang appear, they are SO MANY! The Chinese have no chance in hell and I again have LotR flashbacks. Again Mulan makes a decision not to aim their last remaining rocket at Crazy Eyes but the snow on a mountain over them so it will set off a landslide covering them all.

She saves them all including the Captain while defeating the Huns. Only Mulan got wounded in the process so she gets treated by a doctor who naturally sees that she is a woman posing as a man. He informs the Captain who spares her life only because she just saved his. She gets left behind only with SRD, the cricket an her horse.

She is so sad and internally defeated I just want to hug her!! “Maybe I didn’t go for my Father. Maybe what I really wanted was to prove I could do things right. So when I looked in the mirror, I’d see someone worth while.” MY HEART! The thing is, I can understand this so well, oh boy.

The eagle is still flying over the buried ins now Huns when a hand reaches out. SURPRISE! The Huns were only temporarily defeated because there is still so much movie and a whole redemption arc waiting to happen.

Mulan decides against going home when she sees the capital being close by.

In the city, festivities are held for the Captain and his merry men since they saved the country from the Huns. Well, Mulan did but that’s not an acceptable fact in this time. Mulan rides up to the Captain to inform him that the Huns are still around and the Emperor is in danger but he just shrugs it off. Regardless of her merits, she is only a girl after all and nobody dares to even listen to her.

The eagle steals the sword from the Emperor that he just wanted to give the Captain. The Huns capture the Emperor and lock themselves in the Great Hall with him. Mulan, again, saves the day because she has an idea of how to get inside without rousing suspicion. She gets the guys to dress as women so they’ll just appear to be concubines. The Emperor gets saved but Mulan and Captain don’t manage to escape in time so they have to fight Crazy Eyes.

Of course Mulan defeats the Huns with her mind and superior skills. AND FINALLY the Emperor recognises her efforts. He gives her a medal and the sword originally intend for the Captain. He even offers her a position in his council but she refuses in order to get back home to her family.

Back at home, Mulan and her father have a sweet moment where they bond again and he tells her what a gift she is.

Obviously we still have the romance arc to play out so Captain comes over and they are all happy and lovey and blergh.

The end.

I understand you can have issues with the way female power and whatnot is displayed in this movie but I loved it. Yes, Mulan has to dress up as a man to become a hero but that’s a product of her time. How else was she supposed to end up in the army? I love the way she uses her head and is smarter and a better fighter than all the men. I seriously love that! I could have done without the end where she falls for the Capatain but okay. I still think she plays for my team and all you say can’t make me change my opinion.

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  • EmilyHornburg

    There is also the thought that the Captain is gay/bi cause you can totally tell he’s all conflicted about his feelings for Mulan when he thinks she’s a he. So there’s that and it’s awesome. And I love how women are portrayed because it’s showing how even in a society which looks down on women, you can still be awesome and prove them wrong. It’s empowering! I love Mushu and the sidekicks, they’re awesome. But I also love the other guys in the military because they’re ridiculous and crazy. Also, this movie was the birth of one of the best songs ever.

    BE A MAN. You must be swift as a coursing river. BE A MAN. With all the force of a great typhoon. BE A MAN. With all the strength of a raging fire. Mysterious as the dark side of THE MOOOOOOOOOON.

    (The acapella part where it’s just the guys singing… swoon.)

    Which… I guess is emphasizing more about men than women. BUT Mulan proves them all wrong by being better at it than all of them even though she’s a woman by the end of the movie even though they think she’s a dude. So… it’s empowering for men AND women! Right?

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Interesting, I was so focused on Mulan, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the Captain but it does make sense. I was just annoyed that they had to pair the two together.

      This is clearly one of my favourite Disney movies because it has a great message like you said. I can’t believe how many great movies Disney released once the 90s hit and I am so excited about getting even further down the line because there are some great ones, I presume, waiting for me.

  • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

    I loved this movie. Eddie Murphy was so funny as Mushu. I have the biggest crush on Lea Salonga, who does the singing voice for Mulan. This is such a great story too. I love watching the underdog overcoming obstacles.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I have more of a crush on Ming-Na Wen, who does the voice for Mulan, since I saw her on Agents of SHIELD. God, I love a badass woman and Mulan clearly is badass.

      • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

        I love her too! She is so great in Agents of SHIELD. I almost gave up on that show, but they turned it around just in time. May is my favorite character on that show.

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          Yep, me too. I was nearly done with the show but May is great as is Simmons. I’m still not entirely decided upon the show because well, there is still stuff I don’t enjoy that much but I definitely want to know how it continues.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I don’t watch OUAT either but I remember tumblr and the gay-webs going all crazy over this. Understandably of course.

  • Vanessa

    Yay Mulan! This is such a great movie, and the early beginnings of Disney’s slow progress towards ‘disney princesses and female characters can fight for themselves.’
    Reflection is such a great song, and being sung by Lea Salonga makes it a million times better. That and I’ll Make a Man Out of You are my favourites.
    And ‘Crazy Hun Eyes’? Haha!

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      That’s what it feels like and partly the reason why I enjoyed Mulan so much. She can get shit done and way better than all the guys in her platoon.