Disney As Adults: An Adult Retrospective Review Of The Heroic Action-Adventure MULAN

Heading to China during the Han Dynasty, Disney As Adults finds it's fourth installment diving into the thrilling, action and fun-filled plot of Mulan. Read on for the full breakdown!

Reviews Opinion

Mulan is without question on of Disney's more popular films. The fun classic boasts a talented cast that includes the still popular B.D. Wong, Eddie Murphy, George Takei, and Ming Na Wen, and the songs are difficult to forget and even easier to sing along to.

The film sees the title character, our heroine Fa Mulan, stepping up serve against the Huns in her father's place, disguising herself as a man and teaming up with Mushu, her personal Guardian in order to do so.

The movie starts in a pretty dark place, but it retains its proper footing during its entire run and it knows where it's headed. A Hun attack is the first thing that we see, which expresses the threat that China is under. Setting the movie into motion, this is what causes conscription notices to be delivered to the people - causing one man from every family to be required to serve in the army.

Now, if you've never seen this film before or were born in the last two decades, you might be thinking "But Mulan's a woman, that's sexist!" That's obviously what this entire film is about and the message being conveyed in this film is spot on, symmetrical to problems young girls face and still have to deal with, even today. 

Although the musical number Honor to us All is fun, that is likely the height of hitting the sexism on the nose in this movie. "Men want girls with good taste. Calm, obedient, who work fast paced. With good breeding and a tiny waist. You'll bring honor to us all."

Yeah, that song is pretty similar to Ursula's in The Little Mermaid, but we covered that in our second installment. The truth is, all of this that Mulan is suffering is worth it and crucial to her journey. 

Maybe she would realize that she was different even if she didn't have these creepy women in her face all the time, maybe not, but her heart is soon uncovered when she sings Reflection, which is good enough it just might have you rewinding for a second listen.

I'm more than certain that plenty of people will be able to connect with Mulan during this number. All she wants is to be accepted for who she really is, but who is is is trapped inside something else completely, and no one understands. It's really rather touching.

Knowing she can't run from who she is forever, she decides to save her elderly father by joining the army in his place. Cutting her hair and disguising herself, she takes on the identitiy "Ping" and heads out on an adventure with her lucky cricket, Cri-Kee to bring honor to her family. Huh, imagine that.

Honor might not be the right word to use to describe how Mulan's ancestors feel about her activities, however.

Now that's a quote that'll get the mind wondering about the feelings of the after-life. Fortunately, that's not what we're here to review.

The audience is soon introduced to Mushu, the hilarious, fiery, tiny guardian played by Eddie Murphy. He was demoted for getting Fa Zheng decapitated (he's actually shown headless) and therefore basically reduced to the laughing stock of the Fa family. 

Reduced to a mere messenger, Mushu is sent to awaken the great Stone Dragon to retrieve Mulan, however, he fumbles the job and breaks the Guardian in the process. To make up for this, he joins Cri-Kee and heads after Mulan in an effort to bring her back himself, injecting welcomed humor to the film.

Pictured above: He's a dragon, not a lizard. He doesn't do that tongue thing.

Ping's fellow recruits are fun characters by the names of Yao, Chien-Pao, and Ling, and they collectively serve under their Captain, Shang - also known as Mulan's crush.

Funny side note regarding Captain Shang: when I was doing my research on this film I discovered that he was voiced by Jackie Chan in the Chinese verision of the film.

What is arguably the most fun song in the movie is a training montage called Be a Man. The song is right on the nose for what the typical ideals of what it takes to be a man, which after the prior song talking down to women is a complete script flip and shows fantastic plot symmetry.

Pictured above: subtle foreshadowing.

The guys finally start to chum around with Ping, unfortunately it's while they're all naked. She suffers but manages to escape without her identity being comprimised - yet.

Keep it moving, Ping. You're on a mission here.

A funny joke I caught that definitely went over my head as a kid is when someone rides a panda and says "What's the matter? Never seen a Black and White before?" Pretty solid.

A Girl Worth Fighting For is a fun musical number that is upbeat and injects hope into the tired soldiers - but only until they stop dead in their tracks to find an encampment burned down and destroyed by the Huns. 

Mulan soon proves her heroic capability, but at the cost of revealing the truth about who she is - which gets her removed from the army at once. We won't spoil the remainder of her journey for you, but we will say that the plot symmetry continues beautifully and Be a Man is revisited with this gem, pictured below.

Throughout the entire movie, Mulan continues to stand up to any challenge thrown at her. Without technically being a Disney Princess, she remains at the top of the list as one of the baddest in their collective multiverse.

I knew I liked this movie going in to it, I liked it as a child and I have always loved the character, even in other depictions. A huge fan of Ming-Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) it was fun to revisit one of her earlier performances.

Mulan finds a brilliant apex of humor, action, and heart and evenly serves them up in a tale that is sure to beg repeat viewings by both youth and adults alike. Any negative messages are righted by the end of the film as a part of the main point - man or woman, be yourself, inside. Be your own hero. For those who like superheroes and princesses alike, take a break this Holiday and enjoy it with your children!


Clever Mulan proves her worth outside of her tradition-bound society when, disguised as male soldier "Ping," she bravely takes her father's place in China's Imperial Army. Helped by her outrageously funny guardian dragon Mushu and a lucky cricket named Cri-Kee, Mulan strives to earn the respect of her fellow warriors and their courageous Captain Shang. Mulan's adventures lead to a climactic battle atop the Imperial Palace, where her family's honor and the fate of the Emperor and all of China rests in her hands.


Mulan is now streaming on Disney+.

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