Mulan (1998) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

The Disney princesses are among the most famous heroines in cinema. In spite of such fame, they have all faced backlash from critics as being “damsels in distress.” In order to counteract such criticism, Disney created one of their most independent Disney princesses (even though she technically not a real princess since she is not from a royal family). That heroine is none other than Mulan, and her tale lives on in one of the most successful films to come out during the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s.

A Toast

This film brilliantly captures the beauty and splendor of Chinese culture that includes calligraphy, beautiful cherry blossoms, and an Oscar-nominated score that sounds like classical Chinese music. As previously mentioned, Mulan is one of the greatest Disney heroines ever made because she is an example of how she does not need a man to rescue her. Her strength and independence are prevalent throughout the film (and it even has some awesome action sequences)! Some of the other characters have criticized her for “not bringing honor to her family,” but she really does honor the fact that women can just be as strong as their male counterparts. The film Mulan is essentially one of the most feminist Disney films ever produced!

Beer Two

Even with such feminism, this film contains a surprising amount of innuendo. There are a lot of jokes and awkward moments involving the human anatomy (but that does not need to be discussed here). Parents should just be careful about showing this film to their children given the fact that this film contains (somewhat) mature content. It is also a bit surprising that this film earned a “G” rating from the MPAA given the amount of violence and crude humor that only adults would understand. Nevertheless, this film still celebrates and advocates feminism in a way that has never been seen before in a Disney film (or since!)

Verdict

As the Disney studio began its renaissance in the 1990s after the success of The Little Mermaid in 1989, the filmmakers did their best to push the boundaries of what was possible for Disney animation. Such audacity led to some of the greatest Disney films ever produced, including the “Best Picture” nominee Beauty and the Beast (1991) and the Oscar-winning Pocahontas (1995). Interestingly, Pocahontas exhibited a lot of strength in her own film, which might have been a stepping stone for Disney animation towards the notion of a strong Disney heroine. Each Disney character is unique in his or her own right, of course, but Mulan is very special given the fact that she is nothing like Snow White nor Cinderella. Instead, she is her own woman, and that is why many people adore this modern Disney classic that basically blends Western filmmaking with Eastern culture.

Mulan (1998) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every musical number

Take a Drink: for every comedic moment (especially the ones involving Mushu)

Take a Drink: for every action sequence

Take a Drink: every time references to gender come up (like “being a man”)

Drink a shot: every time the characters discuss “honor”

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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