mulan

Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #36: Mulan

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Hello internet! Man, I don’t know about you but I’m back, feeling well rested and ready to review some goddamn Disney movies! Who’s…

…with…

…me…?

Santa Claus, Lex Luthor and Asian Nixon? But they’re mortal enemies!

Okay, is it just me or has the blog gotten…sorta…Communisty since I’ve been gone?

Comrade Mouse, how's it hangin' dawg?

Comrade Mouse, how’s it hangin’ dawg?

Gangsta Asia?! What’s been going on around here?! Why does my blog look like May Day in Red Square?

I'm now Comrade Gangsta Asia. And your blog is the people's blog now thanks to the glorious socialist revolution we had in your absence. Um...for rizzle.

I’m now Comrade Gangsta Asia. And your blog is the people’s blog now thanks to the glorious socialist revolution we had in your absence. Um…for rizzle.

Alright look, you can be a communist character or a gangsta character but not both, you’re not fleshed out enough to support two defining traits.

Yeah, this is really hard.

Yeah, this is really hard.

Second, who staged a communist uprising on my…why do I even need to finish that sentence?

Hello Mouse.

Privyet, Mouse.

Oh heeey Comrade Crow. Look, I know I haven’t been featuring you much on the blog in the last…

Ten months.

Ten months. Cinderella review.

Wow! Really? No, c’mon, you had that cameo in the Beauty and the Beast review…

Silence! As a remnant of the old regime you are considered an enemy of the blog. Take him away!

Silence! As a remnant of the old regime you are considered an enemy of the blog. Take him away!

Dammit. See, this is why you have to be careful of offending communists. They tend to hold a grudge.  Disney learned this the hard way when they financed Kundun, a biopic of the current Dalai Lama that kinda portrays China in a negative light. You know, like Ike always gets the short end of the stick in movies about the life of Tina Turner. So anyway, China heard that Disney had been talkin’ smack and didn’t think that China would hear it.

Yes, Hollaback girl is about Chinese international relations. That songs has layers, man.

Yes, Hollaback Girl is about Chinese international relations. That songs has layers, man.

Suddenly, Disney found itself frozen out of what was rapidly becoming the most lucrative movie market on the planet. China only allows a limited number of Western films to be screened there each year and if you think Disney isn’t willing to bend over so far that its lips actually touch its own anus just to get a sniff of a chance of a shot of that market…well, you haven’t really been paying attention.

"Hello, Fan Bingbing? I'm just calling to let you know that China's strength and prowess fills with joy and contentment."

“Hello, Fan Bingbing? I’m just calling to let you know that China’s strength and prowess fills me with joy and contentment.”

"But of course, Mr Stark. China is well aware of its greatness. NOW DANCE!"

“But of course, Mr Stark. China is well aware of its greatness. NOW DANCE!”

iron-man-dancing

But back in 1997, Disney decided on a slightly more dignified way of  currying favour. Mulan originally was going to be a short, straight to video animation called China Doll, about a poor Chinese girl who’s rescued by an Englishman and taken to live happily every after in the West. And that, from the offensive title to the paternalistic premise, pretty much sounds like the worst fucking thing ever. It was  Robert D. San Souci, the children’s author and sometime Disney consultant, who suggested instead making a movie version of the Ballad of Hua Mulan (not to be confused with the Ode to Fa Mulan). You can read the poem here, it’s quite short and also pretty amazing. It’s a 1500 year old poem that simply and unabashedly makes the case for gender equality, depicting a young girl who goes off to fight a twelve year military campaign in place of her aged father, wins honour and prestige and returns home at last, revealing to her astounded comrades that she was a woman the whole time.  So, we have a Disney movie that not only is going to delving into depictions of a non-European culture, but also dealing with the issue of feminism. Race and gender? Well surely this can’t go wrong?

Well…no. Actually. It didn’t.

You know, I’ve been doing this a while now and if I’ve learned one thing it’s this: Every movie has its defenders. No matter how little I, or the general consensus, rate any Disney movie, there will always be someone to fight its corner. There are Pocahontas fans, Black Cauldron fans, Aristocats fans and even Three Caballeros fans. Well, maybe “fans” is not the right word for that last one.

Cultists, that's the word.

“Almighty Rooster, hear our prayer.”

Conversely, on the other end of the scale, no matter how highly a Disney movie is ranked and rated and praised, there will always be someone who doesn’t think it’s all that. I know people who don’t like Lion King, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Hunchback…hell there are some sick fucks who don’t like Beauty and the Beast! But…not for this one. Honestly, I have never met or spoken to a single Disney fan who does not absolutely adore Mulan. Do I agree?

Fuck yeah I agree!

Sorry, you may have wanted me to string you along until the end of the review before revealing my opinion of this movie but…really? The fact that I composed a goddamn ode to the main character didn’t tip you off? Yeah, I love this movie, and I love Mulan herself, without a doubt the most badass character in the Disney canon. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the story of Mulan, or, as I like to call her; The Death Who Walks.

Probably best to do it as quick as possible.

Probably best to do it as quick as possible.

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