Disney’s Mulan Synopsis
Disney’s Mulan (1998) is a water-downed, not very accurate retelling of a Chinese story. In true Disney fashion, they took a traditional Chinese tale, branded it, and made it suitable for kids.
Sort of anyway. Mulan has a higher body count than any other Disney Princess movie. And Mulan is literally the only Princess with a body count.
In any case, the basic plot is simple. The Huns attack China to prove their strength. The Chinese Emperor issues a draft to meet the challenge. Despite his age, Mulan’s father accepts the honor of joining the army.
In an attempt to save her father, Mulan defies tradition, family honor, and cultural laws to dress as a man to enter the Chinese army in his place. Of course, disguising as a man is an “ultimate dishonor” and could mean her death.
Despite the violence, Mulan is not nearly as dark as the beginning of Bambi, Brother Bear, Up… should I continue? In other words, it won’t scar your child for life. If you want to do that, show them Bambi.
Things to consider when watching Disney’s Mulan (1998)
- How much does Shang question his sexuality at the end of the movie? The only way it can really work out is if he is bisexual. Imagine the disappointment if he was gay or the utter confusion he’d have if he is actually straight.
- How does Mulan’s horse swim through through the avalanche? Seriously, how? I can suspend disbelief the men in the army never did anything without their shirts, thus keeping Mulan’s identity a secret. But an avalanche would have pretty much killed them all.
- Also, can we discuss and marvel at the fact that Mulan is the only Disney Princess with a body count? Based on 2000 drawn Huns and their 2000 horses, Mulan’s body count is 1,994 Huns (6 got out of the snow) and 2000 horses. This gives her a combined count of 3,994 bodies.
- Could they have made the Emperor’s Adviser any more stereotypical? The only thing this guy lacks are glasses and a calculator.
Can watch distraction free
Disney’s Mulan is an overall good quality movie. It features the comedic value of Eddie Murphy, girl empowerment, and a story that is engaging (at least the first few times through it). Mulan along with Pocahontas helped set the stage for future “girl power” movies featuring strong “princesses” who don’t wait to be rescued. In fact, Mulan ends up saving the Emperor in the end and bestowing her family with honor.
In the end, Mulan may end up with Shang. He is seen visiting Mulan after it is all said and done, but there is no talk of marriage at the time. It’s possible even Disney’s writers recognized how odd it would be if they showed them together at the end. I mean, Shang spent most of the movie believing Mulan was a guy. That would be quite the reveal and disappointing to Shang if he was actually into guys and confusing as hell if he is into girls. The scene they don’t show is Shang questioning his sexuality following his experience with Mulan and coming to terms with whether or not he can reasonably date her.
Mulan represents Disney’s early attempts at diversifying their flagship movie collection. The Disney team took some time researching the Mulan legend and Chinese culture in general. They did this so they could put their Disney spin on it, water it down, and present it to the masses. But in all seriousness, if your kid is into looking up historical facts, Mulan may inspire them to do so.
Mulan has a solid musical score, but it lacks that one icon song that Disney films typically have. Probably the best song is “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” which is the Disney take on the Rocky montage where it shows Mulan start to transform into a warrior. The rest of the songs are alright but not super memorable. But this has its benefits. Having now watched Mulan more times now with my daughter than I can count, I can say the songs don’t get super annoying and my daughter did not sing any of them on loud repeat. Nor do we own (or request to own) the Mulan soundtrack (thank God).
If you are looking for a change of pace, Mulan may be a good break from whatever crap your kid is currently binging on. I doubt they will come away with any songs they set themselves on repeat for and they may get a glimpse of Disney’s interpretation of Chinese culture, which almost makes them an expert on China if you ask me.
- Songs are decent but not likely to cause your child to sing them repeatedly
- Story is engaging enough the first few times through the movie
- Mulan is a strong, independent woman who is a good role model for girls (and boys)
- You don’t feel yourself getting dumber because you are watching it
- Story gets old after seeing it multiple times
- It’s success inspired the creation of Mulan II
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