As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.
- The soldier in the opening sequence. He knows that he's going to die, but he fights as hard as he can to use his last few seconds of life to set off the Great Wall's torch-warning-system (which is its real purpose; no one expected it to keep a determined military opponent out), and then stands up to the terrifying Shan Yu before his death. Thanks to him, Shan Yu fails. Without his warning, the Huns' entry into China wouldn't have been noticed, and the emperor would probably be dead because Mulan and company wouldn't have been around to save him. That guy is awesome, and he doesn't even get a name, but he still sets off the alarm-torch. When was the last time a Red Shirt was so awesome?
- Which in turn is effortlessly matched by Shan Yu's response.
- Says this while burning the nation's flag.
- Fa Zhou putting aside his cane, which at all other times he uses and seems to truly need, and walking stoically up to recieve his draft papers. Whilst he limps slightly, he does it all without a single change of expression, or sign of effort or pain. His only response?
Fa Zhou: I am ready to serve the emperor.
- Also of note is the fact that, as he steps forward, the other villagers draw back out of respect. All of this, combined with the music, creates the image that Fa Zhou is a Living Legend, long before Shang and Chi Fu confirm it.
- Right before that, an elderly man of the Yi family walks up to receive his draft papers. Without a moment's hesitation, his more able-bodied son puts a hand to his shoulder and takes them, telling Chi Fu, "I will serve the emperor in my father's place!" Mulan isn't the only child with both the courage and love to save their father from the horrors of war.
- Also, much respect to the elder Yi, who steps up without qualm despite being evidently older than even Fa Zhou.
- The sequence in which Mulan cuts her hair, and the accompanying music.
- Especially the implications that she either woke the great stone dragon with her decision to go to war and took its spirit with her, or she was the guardian dragon! That could explain why Mushu couldnt awaken it!
- Even though it's the villain, you can't help but love this one sequence. Shan Yu brings his army to a halt, and after a beat, gives a silent signal. Two of his men dismount, move away, and return with two Chinese soldiers. Shan Yu dismounts, looking terrifying, before kneeling down and adjusting one of the soldiers' armor.
Shan Yu: [lightly]
Nice work, gentlemen. You've found the Hun army. [dark chuckles from the Hun soldiers] Soldier
: The emperor will stop you. Shan Yu
: Stop me? He invited me. [lifts soldier up by the neck]
By building his wall, he challenged my strength. Well, I'm here to play his game. [draws sword, then throws the soldier to the ground]
GO! Tell your emperor to send his strongest armies! I'm ready
. [soldiers run, and Shan Yu scratches his chin before seeming to realize something]
How many men does it take to deliver a message? Hun Archer
: [draws bow] One.
- "I'll Make a Man Out of You". Without a doubt, the most epic Training Montage in the history of Walt Disney Animation, ever.
- Shang has one at the very beginning of the song (so awesome that you actually hear the whole camp being in awe), and a blink-and-you-will-miss-it other: when Chien Po stops running on the poles fearing of falling down, Shang is right behind him and stops immediately. The others, however, don't. They keep coming and crashing into his back, while he just stands perfectly still, without even blinking.
- Particularly, after Shang tells Mulan to leave, she refuses to give up and passes the Hidden Purpose Test that had previously beaten everyone else in the camp.
- Everyone cheers her on, and are inspired by her example to stop sucking at being soldiers.
- Mulan really could have given up just then. In truth, the discharge was something of a godsend, because now her family's obligation had been met. It was over! Mulan had saved her father! The plot of the movie was wrapped up in one verse of song! But Mulan still didn't give up. She passed the test, and she did it not because her father would have been sent to war if she hadn't, she did it to prove that once, just once in her entire life, she didn't suck at something. And she did. She proved it to the whole camp.
- What does she do at the end? She throws the arrow at the ground in front of Shang's tent while sitting on top of the post; above and beyond to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she succeeded. Following which she runs ahead of the group during their weighted-down runs, and beats Shang during a sparring match. Shang's look of absolute approval and "Wow, good!" on his face perfectly sells it.
- There's a bit more to it as well. In this particular day and age, honour was the most important part about living, moreso than life itself to the average person. Though Mulan would've left after saving her father's life and would avoid war, she'd still be walking back home with disgrace, bringing shame on the family's name. But she stayed her ground and continued to work hard to prove herself, and in the end it all came to bringing the greatest honour to her family.
- Then there's the Comic Relief trio's improvement.
- Yao, after getting a flaming arrow in the ass at the start, unflinchingly running through a hail of them.
- Chien Po actually does flips from pole to pole, in contrast to his performance described above.
- Ling, who broke his face on a block, breaks the block at the end.
- And all the new recruits show great strides in marksmanship, staff fighting, and more.
- Also, it is worth mentioning that the Chinese dub version of the song is performed by none other than Jackie Chan. There's even a music video.
- Awesome Music: Jerry Goldsmith, duh (scoring his only real animated feature other than The Secret Of Nimh). "Short Hair" and "The Huns Attack" are hands down the fandoms' favorites.
- For those who think that name sounds familiar? Jerry Goldsmith scored some of Star Trek's most memorable tunes, including the scores of "First Contact" and "Nemesis."
- For a brief, very small moment, you can see the comedy trio watching Mulan climb the pole. While Chien Po and Yao are looking on with awe and disbelief, Ling's face is wide with a smile, as if he's cheering Mulan on. This is especially awesome since Ling is usually the one harassing (or instigating the harassing) Mulan the most before this. He wants to see someone conquer the seemingly impossible task Shang set them.
- At the end, after Mulan proves herself, and inspired the dudesquad to be better soldiers, the chorus takes on a new tone: The music and Shang's voice cuts out, leaving only a male choir to sing the final chorus.
- While understated, the fact that Shan Yu and his generals can, just from the stolen doll of a child, obtain a reasonable estimation of what kind of defenses their next target will have, is incredibly impressive. They might be barbarian Huns, but they're not Dumb Muscle, and they know the business of war much better than their opponents do.
- A subtle one for Shang, after discovering the burned out remains of the village and the remains of the Imperial Army (one of whom was his own father, who he believed had commanded him there to aid them), Shang stops at his horse for a brief moment before mounting and turning to rally the men because "we're the only hope for the emperor now" confirms why his men respect and follow him to the end. He's still going despite the terrible losses.
- It's also terrifying, but the sight and sound of Shan Yu's entire army about to charge from the mountain is pretty damned epic-looking. THAT is how you make an entrance; it was an "Oh, Crap!" moment for all of China.
- The eponymous heroine single-handedly buries the Hun army by igniting an avalanche with a rocket.
Mushu: You missed! How could you miss?! He was THREE FEET IN FRONT OF YOU!
- Her knowing smirk as Shan-Yu looks behind him to see what's going on is the icing on the cake.
- Especially when paired with his epic Oh, Crap! expression. The sheer horror of his realisation that she just single-handedly murdered his entire army, even if it might kill her as well, with his face just screaming "What have you done, you maniac!?"
- Mulan is neither the daughter of royalty nor is her love interest royalty, so why is she a Disney Princess? Many Fans figure that Snow White realized that it was probably best not to fight a woman who has a 4-digit body count over such minutia as "legitimacy to a throne".
- Mulan: the only Disney Princess with a body count in the thousands.
- Chien Po pulling EVERYONE up, including the horse!
- To go into greater detail—there are about seven soldiers holding onto the rope that Mulan, Shang, and Khan (the horse) are dangling from, and they're all barely managing to keep them from falling. Each of them is wearing full metal armor and carrying equipment. Then, Chien Po, hands folded in prayer, silently walks over, bends down, and picks the whole group up. At the most conservative estimate, he is hoisting over a ton of dead weight in that moment (figuring 200 pounds per person given the armor they're all wearing, then at minimum 400 pounds for Khan—and that's an incredibly low number for a fully grown horse), and he doesn't break a sweat as he walks backward against gravity and saves them all. Chien Po does not have Stout Strength. Chien Po has superhuman strength.
- When Shan Yu and the Hun Generals pop right out of the snow! Like daisies! Granted, we are talking about a handful of survivors out of thousands, but the mere fact there are survivors is awesome. They were buried under it at least for minutes (since Mulan was healed, kicked out of the army and everything else), but most likely for hours. And some of them are shirtless. And, as if it wasn't enough, they don't even need to take their time to rest or anything, they set off their next goal and start walking toward it shrugging off being buried under an avalanche as if nothing happened. Made of Iron is an understatement.
- Shan Yu's falcon takes a sword from Shang's hands, flies up with it, then lets go of it so that Shan Yu, standing in a shadow on a rooftop, can catch it. When Shan Yu catches the sword, he emerges from the shadow, grinning, and you can hear shocked gasps from the crowd below.
- The emperor shows Shan Yu just how much his military prowess is really worth: "No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it." OWNED.
- As one Tumblr commentator put it: "Translation: Go fuck yourself."
- Shan-Yu's brief but obvious look of disbelief is the real payoff here. He just cannot grasp how this old man could still defy him, still be the Emperor of China even alone and captured and seconds away from death. All he can do is fall back on his hatred, because he simply can't understand a mind that could be so strong without any physical gifts to back it up.
- Shan-Yu then tries to kill the emperor in rage, and Shang blocks his blow just in the nick of time. Despite this all happening behind him, the emperor calmly and indifferently walks out of the way as though he knew it was going to happen the whole time. Now that's composure.
- He very well might have. Look at his eyes when he delivers his mountain line he looks off to the side, as though he's noticing something while he's speaking. True, this means he might have heard help coming and that's why he said what he did, but it also means he wasn't even paying attention to the guy holding a sword at his throat. Holy balls of steel, Batman! Well, he is the Freaking Emperor of China. He's probably had many an assassination attempt before; he's probably bored of them by now...
- Shang fighting Shan Yu head on. Sure, Shan Yu defeats him in the end, but Shang held his own against one of the most powerful villainous characters in Disney and even got the upper hand at one point.
- While Shang is obviously a great warrior, consider the difference of physical strength and size between him and Shan Yu. The fact that he could not only hold his own, but also got a pained reaction from the Hun is amazing!
- After the guys have gotten the emperor off the tower, only Mulan and Shang are left. Shang has been defeated by Shan Yu, so Mulan cuts the rope leading down to the ground. She has to know that this means they are almost certainly doomed, but it also means the emperor is safe. It's even an in-universe moment of awesome for her, as the entire crowd erupts into cheers when she does it.
- Bonus points for Shan Yu's reaction. Before he goes into his Unstoppable Rage, he looks down at the large crowd and sees that the emperor is gone, having been swallowed up by the crowd. It is this moment where he realizes that he's lost.
- The sheer, complete shock that Mulan gives Shan Yu by simply tying up her hair: "The soldier from the mountains...!"
- Compounded by the fact that he does not even show a moment's hesitation or disbelief that the soldier he fought on the mountain was a woman. He is surprised that the soldier survived and made it to the palace like him, but the fact that she is a woman is entirely incidental in his mind. Shan Yu immediately took her as a threat, unlike the soldiers who worked with her because of the gender barrier.
- Also, in the final fight, we see Shan Yu effortlessly cutting down wooden columns (in one hit) and making a hole in the roof with his bare fist.
- Mushu helps himself to some fireworks.
Guard: Who're you?
Mushu: Your worst nightmare!
- At the film's climax, we get a series of these as Mulan puts her final plan in action.
- The emperor bows to Mulan. Subsequently, all of China does the Kowtow to her, a sign of submission and deep respect.
- In terms of animation quality, it's amazing in its own right that they were able to make Mulan look male while still retaining feminine qualities. The audience can recognize her instantly while still believing that the other soldiers thought she was male. To sell the 'pretending to be a man' concept, Mulan's facial design was altered slightly when she was dressed as a soldier, adding a few slight edges to what were just curved lines. It's not all that pronounced and easy to miss, but it works beautifully.
- After everything has happened, Shang defends Mulan from Chi Fu, who's still stating she'll never be worth anything. Shang promptly grabs his collar, furiously stating "Listen, you pompous—!"
- All of Mulan's victories are coming from her high intelligence, as shown throughout the film that Mulan is someone of high intellect in her country; while it's hinted with how she does her chores, she does things in rather intelligent ways throughout the film;
- She's able to figure out a winning move for an already-in-progress Chinese Chess game by looking at it for a good few seconds before placing one side's piece in the correct spot, winning the man the game before she was pulled away.
- When it came to "Make a Man Out of You", she's the first one to discover Shang's Hidden Purpose Test by realizing what was to be done and succeeded in the task.
- Earlier mentions to the Mountain event, it took her seeing the reflection in her sword and realizing that taking out the Hun army itself could have been a better bet for the others than just letting them all fight a colossal army with their numbers. Especially given their distance, she likely thought the others could get away while the Huns were buried in snow.
- When Shan Yu had the emperor, she thought of the strategy to get everyone to dress up in concubine outfits to trick the Huns.
- And finally, her victory over Shan Yu was an improvised plan involving the fireworks across the way. While Mushu was getting it, she had to make sure everything was calculated correctly and was measuring out the calculations before Shan Yu could get to her.
- In the end, all of Mulan's victories was her intelligence working out in her favor, instead of just relying on brute force.