For those wondering, this film, besides the title of Mulan, has no similarities with the Disney film. China 450AD and the Kingdom is under constant threats from the ruthless Rouran tribes of the north. With resources at a low the empire calls on all able bodied soldiers to stand up and fight against the Rouran. The battles are nothing spectacular, but they are entertaining. The film is billed as an epic, and an epic is certianly is not. Gone are the goofy antics of a sidekick dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy, yet the plot could have been a little more dense.
Of course the main aspect of Mulan, as we all know is a young girl defends her father by sneaking away from home and dressing up as a man to join an all-male army where she eventually assumes a historically critical role in defending the nation in a time of war. However, while Vicki Zhao may win over enough feminist sympathizers with this performance, the movie does her no justice by opting for the easy way out. The film walks on a very thin line between a Chinese action-packed movie and a Kung fu film not giving enough time to develop the characters properly. This is a show of Mulan, woman among men, unique among conformist so although each guy gets his brief moment, the buzz never leaves her sight.
Her luck gets even worse when she falls in love with fellow general and is devastated when she is led to believe that he died in battle. Their love is tested on battlefields, where Mulan had to give her love up to the enemy’s soon-to-be-throned Queen. This created some powerful scenes that can’t be ignored. Vicki Zhao alone makes the film worth seeing given her performance, both the energy factor and releasing emotions. The only real complaint is why wasn’t she more tomboyish? She didn’t disguise her voice or anything making it almost unbelievable.
Another part of the narrative’s difficulty comes from the fact that there two non-competing men who invite Mulan’s loyalty and affection. That aside, all in all, Mulan was worth the wait but I was slightly dissappointed when the credits rolled. I just expected more, and it took a long time to get off the ground, but once there I found myself caught up in the drama. It gets really emotional at the end resulting in myself wishing the ending could be happier like Disney’s version. But all in all, Mulan is ultimately an interesting look at the life of a folktale heroin.