A live action version of a childhood favorite “Mulan” challenges the status quo and highlights the heroism and courageousness of one woman. Portrayed by Yifei Liu, Mulan defends the empire and protects her family while fully embodying loyalty, bravery and truth.
Speaking to the admiration he had for his daughter, Zhou, played by Tzi Ma, narrates this version of the film. Opening with a tribute to her chi, he details the unique power and abilities of Mulan, explaining how one’s chi is strengthened through honesty.
Marked as being honorable for a man to wield, having chi and its subsequent abilities were honorable in men, where “a daughter would risk shame, dishonor, exile.”
Foreshadowing the significance of the phoenix, Mulan and Zhou return to the broken statue when she is a young girl. “Some say the phoenix is consumed by flame, then emerges again. I think she can survive a broken wing. Your chi is strong Mulan, but chi is for warriors, not girls,” said Zhou, burying the fire within his daughter with the fall of every word.
Only partly stifling her chi, Mulan expressed her power in small doses to maintain the appearance of what a woman should be and how she should act. Fearful of her father not returning home from war, Mulan acted on instinct and joined the ranks of the army by disguising herself as a man. Reconnecting with her chi while training, the truth of Mulan began to move closer to the surface, seeping out slowly and then all at once, guiding her to fulfill her destiny.
I could not be more proud of the message the film it sends to women everywhere. Heroism does not distinctly and exclusively belong to men. Women can wield power, intelligence and expertise.
Challenging the status quo, Mulan breaks barriers for the mere belief that women can be more than just “quiet, composed, graceful, elegant, poised, polite,” that women can be champions, warriors and winners.
Surveying the film in its entirety, there is only one aspect that I would like to have seen that was left out of the most
recent version. The melodies of the iconic songs such as “Honor to Us All,” “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” are present, yet the actual songs fail to make an appearance.
However, with a purely objective stance, both films can stand strongly on their own.
Additionally, the choices of the director to not explore the romantic relationship of Mulan and her possible love interest allows the strength of her womanhood to stand in its entire glory, giving absolute truth to the words of Zhou at the end of the film in regards to Mulan, “The girl became a soldier. The soldier became a leader, and the leader became a legend.”