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Tear Jerker / Mulan

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Disney Film
Being torn between family and honor is not easy to deal with.

  • The Matchmaker publicly chewing out Mulan after their disastrous engagement courtesy of Cri-Kee getting loose during their meeting.
    Matchmaker: You are a DISGRACE! (Smashes teapot) You may look like a bride, but you will NEVER bring your family honor!
    • Mulan's forlorn expression as she takes this ruling in, with her mother and grandmother doing what little they can to comfort her.
  • "Reflection". That horrible, horrible sense of being a disappointment, of feeling false and wrong and ill-fitted to what roles your family desperately needs you to fill? Uh, yeah, it hasn't gotten less familiar over time. Made even worse by this line in the movie: "If I were truly to be myself, I would break my family's heart". For many people, they feel they wouldn't have much problem with society knowing their secrets; it's allowing their family to see them for who they truly are that terrifies them. The fact that your family are the people who you should feel most comfortable with just makes this line heartbreaking.
    • The lines, I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter... Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me? / Why is my reflection someone I don't know?
  • Just after the disaster with the matchmaker, Mulan returns home. Her father comes out to greet her, and she is so ashamed of her failures she hides her face behind Khan so he can't look at her.
  • The very real, if concealed, anguish in Fa Zhou's voice when he responds to Mulan begging for him to be spared the conscription order. Though she's doing it from a place of love, she IS basically saying to all the world "My war hero of a father is too old and decrepit to fight." To an honourable and proud man, that must sting.
    Fa Zhou: Mulan, you dishonour me.
  • The dinner scene early in the movie. When Mulan is trying to tell her father he'll be killed if he goes to war, and he, frustrated, shouts at her to learn her place, causing her to run outside and cry privately. What makes this even sadder is that, normally, Fa Zhou seems really kind and caring towards his daughter, so it was very jarring to see him shout at her. Also, when you think about it, that was the last thing he said to Mulan before she ran away, so on top of worrying whether she'd die, there's also quite a lot of guilt.
    • Whether you think he's being a good parent at this point is a bit YMMV. Mulan just embarrassed a war hero in front of someone who reports directly to the Emperor. Sometimes tough love is the way to go, especially if the family's honor or very lives are at stake.
  • Mulan watching her father practice with his sword. For a few seconds, he looks like a total badass, until he collapses to the floor as his elderly body betrays him. Right then and there, both Mulan and the audience know that honor is going to send this brave and decent man to certain death...
  • During the training montage, everyone is doing a hike carrying sandbags or something on poles across their shoulders. Mulan, unable to keep up with the pace, collapses. Shang picks up her burden and adds it to his own, with a look of contempt that screams that he isn't doing this to be nice, but to drive home how weak she is. Her look of utter humiliation and shame is hard to watch.
    • What makes this especially bad is that it drives home a fundamental problem - Mulan is weaker than her male counterparts. Not in spirit or drive or anything, but physically her raw strength and stamina just doesnt measure up to the male soldiers. It's only by embracing her own strengths that she can get around this.
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  • When Mulan's family wakes to find that Mulan has run away, her father dashes out into the rain and slips in the mud, looking up to see her dropped decorative comb lying forlornly on the ground and, a little further away, the open gate — which confirms his fear of what his daughter has done. Mulan's mother runs to him, saying they should go after her or else she could be killed. The father's reply: "If I reveal her... she will be." Their look of parental despair is heart-rending.
  • The destroyed village scene. Everybody's dead, the houses are in ruins, they find the remains of Shang's father's army, lying dead in the snow. Even Chi Fu has the sense to act appropriately horrified.
    • Special mention for the moment when Chien-Po brings Shang's father's helmet to Shang.
    • This falls into Nightmare Fuel as well. Shang's father doesn't get much screen time, but he's implied to be a badass Reasonable Authority Figure who's also the Chinese equivalent of a Four-Star Badass. And, judging from the way things look, Shan-Yu ripped through his army like he was NOTHING.
    • Also, when Mulan takes the little girl's doll, places it next to Shang's father's sword, and says a prayer. The inclusion of the doll just screams, "There were little kids in this village!"
  • The look on Shang's face when he finds out his father was killed in battle and not only him the leader, it was that every single soldier and innocent civilian in that village had been killed along with him. You realize that all of those dead men lying down there were someone's husband, someone's brother, someone's father/son/cousin/uncle/nephew, and now they're never going home, which was why Mulan stole her father's war things and took his place to begin with, so she didn't lose him like that. Mulan finding the abandoned doll amongst the burned wreckage — it only drives the point home even harder: Shan-Yu and the Huns are merciless, bloodthirsty, and evil, and must be stopped.
    • Not only has Shang just stumbled upon the remains of his father, his father's battalion, and the village they were meant to be guarding, but he's there because of Mushu's fake letter. Unless Mushu told him the truth offscreen after Mulan II, he believes that his father sent to him for help and he's arrived too late.
  • When Mulan is revealed as a woman and Shang has to make the decision to kill her, or let one of his best friends, who also saved his life, go free. Made worse when Mulan tells him she did it to save her father's life; Shang just lost his own father to the war and knows exactly how she feels.
    • The looks on Ling, Chien-Po, and Yao's faces while this is all going on. The moment Shang pulls out his sword they don't hesitate to rush to Mulan's defense.
  • The scene following Mulan's reveal. After her monologue about reflections, Mushu tries to shine her helmet in an attempt to cheer her up. He then looks into his own reflection... and admits to her that he too is a fraud. A brilliant use of the movie's Arc Symbol to highlight the similarities between Mushu and Mulan.
    Mushu: The truth is we're both frauds. Your ancestors never sent me. They don't even like me. I mean, you risked your life to help people you love. I risked your life to help myself. At least you had good intentions.
  • Mulan admitting that the real reason she did everything she did was because she wanted to prove that she could be more than a worthless woman.
  • The final scene when Mulan returns to her father. She gives him two of China's greatest treasures as an apology for disobeying him. His response? Cast them aside like trash and hold his daughter as tightly as he can, because he is a dad, and she is all he wants.
    Fa Zhou: The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter.
  • In Mulan II, there's Shang's Heroic Sacrifice and Mulan subsequently breaking down afterwards.
    • Following this, Mulan offering herself to marry the eldest prince of Qi-Gong in place of the princesses. During the marriage, Shang reveals himself to be alive, and Mushu, disguising himself as the "Golden Dragon of Unity" marries Mulan and Shang right then and there.


  • The death of Miguel Ferrer, the voice actor of Shan-Yu, on January 19, 2017.
  • Later that year on July 26, June Foray (Grandma Fa) also passed on.
  • Soon-Tek Oh, the voice of Fa Zhou, passed away on April 4, 2018.


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