“Loyal, Brave, True” (忠勇真) are the three words engraved on the Hua family sword, comprising Mulan’s central motif that in turn reflects this live action remake’s reexamination of what constitutes Chinese feminism. Mulan turns out to be a pleasant surprise—that Disney’s creative capacity for thematic and visual reimagination is being consistently expanded by its feminist projects (as in Beauty and the Beast), and also that the film is a potent antithesis to its predecessors that are unimaginative CGI clones of their originals (such as The Lion King).

Though it is a pity that Chinese female talents are absent in the writers’ room of Mulan, director Niki Caro and the film’s writing team have demonstrated their decent understanding of Chinese feminism’s essence: our women’s loyalty, bravery and truth rising above patriarchal confinements like a phoenix—the divine symbolisation of Chinese femininity. This understanding rings true to the original ballad of Mulan, which dates back to the 6th century and has been carried on by generations ever since.

However, in its second half, Mulan’s impressive capture of such essence is eclipsed by repetitive bombardment of actions that will appear unoriginal—especially for Chinese audiences, who are way too familiar with such standardised choreography of martial arts. Despite Mandy Walker’s kinetically grandiose cinematography, the film—for the mere sake of spectacle—also mismatches several Chinese landscapes and architectures with geographical and historical inaccuracies.

Every Chinese girl will still end up having a soft spot for Mulan thanks to its brilliant final touch: the emperor gifting Mulan a new sword, on which “Devotion to Family” (孝) is added alongside “Loyal, Brave, True”. Mulan’s solemn eyes reflected on this sword mirror the core of the film’s Chinese feminism: her unwavering strength in protecting her loved ones that raise her up to become who she is: an honourable warrior.



CAST: Liu Yifei, Gong Li, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An


WRITERS: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek

SYNOPSIS: Set in ancient China, a fearless young woman, out of love for her family and country, joins the imperial army by disguising as a man. She embarks on an epic journey battling the invaders and brings great honour upon her family and herself as a true warrior.