YMMV / Mulan

Disney's Mulan

  • Acceptable Targets: The Huns. They have sickly gray skin, and black eyes with yellow irises.
  • Adaptation Displacement: A lot of people in the West have no idea that the legend of Mulan has been around in various forms since the 6th century AD, and think she's an original Disney character.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Applicability: Though Fa Mulan doesn't adapt a male persona as a result of gender dysphoria, "Reflection" has been heavily embraced by the transgender community, and LGBTQ+ persons in general.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Despite famous voice actors such as Jackie Chan and using a local folk tale, the movie didn't do much at the Chinese box office. Some blame piracy, some worry that the native audience took issue with the extensive reworking of the original myth, and some point to the fact that the Chinese government was in the middle of a bitter and spiteful dispute with the Walt Disney corporation thanks to Disney's Touchstone Pictures label releasing Kundun, which prompted the Chinese to ban its helmer Martin Scorsese from getting back into China and force Mulan to languish for a year before letting it out with an unfavorable release date just after the Chinese New Year's celebration stuffed the box office with other films (on top of that, Kundun was a Box Office Bomb). Ten years later, Dreamworks Animation's Kung Fu Panda would prove much more to Chinese tastes.
  • Angst? What Angst?: There are no psychological repercussions to Mulan killing thousands of men with the avalanche. Then again, it's a Disney film. In one of the next few scenes, they popped up from under the snow. Mushu even likens them to daisies. However, there is a great deal of angst to discovering a village that had burned to the ground.
  • Anvilicious: Sexism is bad.
  • Awesome Music: "I'll Make a Man out of You", easily the most iconic song from the movie (and one of the more iconic songs from the Disney Renaissance period in general), this song is widely and rightly considered awesome.
  • Complete Monster: Shan Yu views the Emperor of China having built the Great Wall as both an insult and a challenge. As a violent Blood Knight, Shan Yu leads his horde of Huns to invade, relishing when China knows he's there. After capturing two Imperial spies, Shan Yu releases them with a message for the Emperor- but has one of his archers kill one anyways as you only need one man to deliver a message. Shan Yu later ambushes the armies of General Li at a village, resulting in a mass slaughter, not only of the soldiers, but every civilian as well, with no children spared either. Even after his army's downfall, Shan Yu attacks the Imperial Palace with his remaining men and takes the Emperor hostage, furiously trying to kill him when he refuses to kneel to Shan Yu.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Shan-Yu has a sizeable fanbase, mostly due having the deep gravelly husky voice of Miguel Ferrer.
  • Ear Worm: "I'll Make a Man Out of You" and "A Girl Worth Fighting For" are merciless in this regard.
  • Evil is Cool: Shan-Yu and his mini boss bunch of Huns for the general badassery throughout the movie. Ironically, and probably on purpose, their defeats are all extremely comedic.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Grandmother Fa has more fans than her small screentime would suggest. Also, The Emperor.
  • First Installment Wins: The sequel failed to do as well as the first film (it scored a zero on RT and signaled the beginning of the end for the Disney animated sequel blitz), though in that particular film Mulan and Shang actually got married as well as Yao, Chien Po, and Ling.
  • Foe Yay: While it drifts into Crack Ship territory, Mulan and Shan Yu has a strange fan following.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Mulan's male persona is "Ping", and given that she still claims to be from the Fa family, "his" full name takes on a different meaning among modern Internet culture, doubling as an accidental Stealth Pun.
    • Jerkass councilor Chi-Fu squeals like a girl when a panda eats his slipper. A decade later, James Hong would star, in Kung Fu Panda where he plays Mr. Ping, a goose who is the adoptive father of titular protagonist panda!
    • Shan-Yu gets his cape stuck on a roof at one point, resulting in him being hit by an incoming rocket. Edna Mode's famous insistence on "NO CAPES!" has been a proven concept for years.
    • Eddie Murphy plays a dragon in this movie. Around three years later in Shrek, he plays a donkey that gets married to a dragon.
    • Soon-Tek Oh and James Hong both appearing in this animated film, which is interesting considering that both said actors had played North Vietnamese military Big Bads in the Missing in Action films (Hong played the so-called main villain in the first film, while Oh played the villain in the second).
  • Ho Yay: The interactions between Shang and Mulan when she was disguised as "Ping". Plus, Mushu encourages it as a normal part of male-to-male interaction.
    Mushu: Good, now slap 'im on the behind. They like that!
  • Inferred Holocaust: Shortly before Shan Yu and his army find the Imperial scouts, you can see a village burning behind them. Implying they had just destroyed it, and probably killed everyone in it. Averted with the little girl's village and the Imperial Army, which skips over the "implied" part.
  • Iron Woobie: Mulan goes through a lot of frustration just to prove her worth to her family, to her country and to herself. Despite this she never backs down.
  • Memetic Badass: Ping, the manliest badass ever to grace cinema. Unshaved Mouse turned Mulan herself into one while reviewing each film in the Disney Animated Canon. The Emperor also has this reputation.
  • Memetic Mutation: Go into any room (or bar, or internet chatroom...) full of people who grew up with this movie (teenagers and twentysomethings at this point) and sing "Let's get down to business" (the opening lyrics from "Make a Man Out of You"). The effect is similar to that of saying "You remind me of the babe" in an older group - they will not only finish the line for you, but also sing the entire song.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Mulan has got a reputation among some fans as a You Go, Girl! girliness-hating Tomboy. This same fanbase reacts with disgust at her wearing the pink dress in most of the Disney Princess merchandise, claiming it undermines her character. This is ignoring the fact that Mulan's discomfort at the beginning of the movie was over not wanting to let her family down - and that she wanted to be a good wife. On a more superficial level she does actually like how she looks in the pink dress. She seems to wear pink because so many of the other princess characters are colour-coded with blue outfits (Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine and Snow White) and Sleeping Beauty likewise is shown in a pink dress for this reason.
    • There's strong irony in the fact that a movie about a woman trying to break gender roles in the name of protecting her father produced a song (I'll Make A Man Out of You) that ended up becoming the most popular and remembered song of the movie.
    • The "Mulan is transgender" idea comes more from Westerners trying to shoehorn gender roles in the story, than the story itself. More than one Chinese-American and Chinese fan has reacted rather angrily at this.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Mulan's placement in the Disney Princess franchise already counted but it reached a new low when the DVD joined the "Royal Wedding Collection". Not royalty, and not getting married to royalty.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Shan-Yu crosses it when he and his soldiers burn down the village at the Tung Shao Pass. There's an Empathy Doll Shot to indicate that even children were not spared. Plus, there's also the helmet and sword of Shang's father, indicating that he too died in the attack. In fact, the Huns butchered everyone - no one is left to tell the tale. The scene abruptly interrupts the "A Girl Worth Fighting For" song, giving it Gut Punch impact.
    • At first, Chi Fu is simply an arrogant bully and, considering he's a loyal servant of the Emperor himself, can only be considered a villain because of his misogyny. But boy, does he ever make the best (worst?) of that, and when Mulan's gender is outed, he crosses the MEH by ordering Shang to kill her as though she were a traitor (never mind that she had proven herself a valuable asset to China's army up to that point). He only drives the point home that he's thoroughly unrepentant about his misogyny later on when, after Mulan helps defeat the Huns and save the Emperor, the bully still demands the death penalty in a gesture of blatant ingratitude.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    First Ancestor: (speaking to Mushu) You had your chance to protect the Fa family!
    Female Ancestor: Your misguidance led Fa Deng to disaster!
    Fa Deng: (carrying his head under his arm) Yeah. Thanks a lot.
    • The ordinary Red Shirt who lit the signal tower while Shan Yu was staring him down.
    • Shang's father, General Li, could be seen as such before riding off to join the rest of the Imperial Army at the Tung Shao Pass.
      • It helps that he's voiced by James Shigeta.
  • Painful Rhyme: Mostly because of the glaringly incorrect grammar necessary to accomplish it: "Ancestors, hear my plea / Help me not to make a fool of me..."
  • Periphery Demographic: The song "Reflection" seems to have struck a small chord in the LGBT community, at least in the Philippines.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: There's a lot of combat in the movie, but for the most part it's kept offscreen, or consists of ranged combat at a distance that keeps casualties from being seen. After the outstanding success of the Dreamworks Animation Kung Fu Panda franchise established that ferociously wild, if stylized, Wuxia action with innumerable connecting kicks and punches are now acceptable family entertainment, Mulan comes off as rather timid.
  • Sequelitis: The sequel dealt with an arranged marriage idea to prevent an invasion, and then threw it out the window. Said sequel was widely panned and was one of the final straws for Disney's sequel machine; less than two years after its release, that machine was unplugged by John Lasseter.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Mulan singing "Reflection".
    • The "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" training montage song.
    • The burned Tung Shao Pass village that the Imperial Army failed to protect.
    • The avalanche sequence was a solid contender (especially from an animator's point of view).
    • Shan Yu being blown to bits with fireworks.
    • The end where everyone bows to Mulan.
  • Signature Song:
    • "I'll Make a Man Out of You" is by far the film's most popular song.
    • With that said, "Reflection" is a very close second and the first single of Christina Aguilera's career, and also, as mentioned above, has struck a small chord in the LGBT community.
  • Strawman Has a Point: While Shang not believing Mulan about the Huns having infiltrated the capital city is clearly intended to be a sign that he's just not ready to accept her contributions because of her gender, there is another possible explanation — by lying about being male, Mulan has already proven she's capable of being dishonest. It's more reasonable to believe someone if you've never known them to lie.
  • Values Dissonance: "I'll Make a Man Out of You" has the rather sexist line "Did they send me daughters/When I asked for sons?". Considering what story this is, that's probably the point.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Mulan is constantly touted by fans as "THE BESTEST AND MOST FEMINIST DISNEY PRINCESS EVERRRR" and used to bash all the other "weak, sparkly, slutty" Disney Princesses for "not being strong women". It's ironic considering she begins the movie wanting nothing more than to be a good wife and ends the movie turning down a post as the Emperor's consul, and saves China while wearing a dress. It's also pretty impressive as she was never canonically a Princess to begin with.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After their last attempt to do this got strong reviews but a relatively poor box office take, they decided to go back to being a bit more adult. Surprisingly, this worked better than with Pocahontas or The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Woolseyism: The Chinese dub calls the Huns the Xiongnu, which is more historically accurate as the Huns are best known for invading Europe under Attila. It is theorized that the two groups were related.
  • The Woobie: Shang. He loses his father to Shan Yu and his army. Mulan also starts off as one after the disaster with the matchmaker, shown through "Reflection".

The 2009 Chinese film

  • Complete Monster: Mengdu is The Evil Prince of the Rouran tribes. He is first seen ordering some prisoners slaughtered For the Evulz. After being forced to stop by his father, Mengdu suggests that they use their recently-united army to conquer China, kicking off a war that's so severe that China must conscript one man from every military family. After twelve years of fighting, and the men tired of war, Mengdu kills one general who tried to convince the others to go home, kills his father to take over the army, declares that the war will continue and forces his sister to marry him. After Mengdu finds Hua Mulan's army weakened by a sandstorm, he decides to stop them by torturing his POWs to draw the soldiers out and killing them as they do. Soon, Mengdu gets impatient and orders the prisoners slaughtered, only stopping when a prince who happened to be in the army offers himself as a hostage.