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Should I watch Hua Mulan?

I’m not much of a Chinese history buff and the Disney movie is the only reference I have with regards to Mulan’s exploits. I expected Hua Mulan to be a live action version of the cartoon movie. As it turns out, the movie is a period love story starring Vicky Zhao as Mulan and Kun Chen as Wentai, the battalion’s vice Commander.

Just don’t expect Hua Mulan to be same as the Disney movie. There is nothing similar except for the fact that Mulan hid her identity so that she can take her father’s place in the army. This is the time when China is on the verge of being invaded and all able-bodied men across the nation are tasked to join the army.

Mulan proved to be an outstanding warrior during training and was promoted as General of the Army tasked to defend the nation. Unlike the Disney Mulan, she didn’t have to sing or dance in this one. Instead the audience sees her go into battle to lead her men to victory.

Hua Mulan centered on the titular heroine and the character development was well made. The story evolved around her and managed to showcase her feminine side even when she’s leading an all-male army.

Wentai (Kun Chen): Do you think I want to fight? We have no choice, this is war! Once you put on a General’s armor, your life is no longer your own.

The movie focused more on her personal battles and how it helped her become one of the nation’s greatest generals. It showed how she sacrificed and made hard decisions for the sake of her country.

And because this is not a Disney movie, it has no fairy tale ending. Although Wentai and Mulan loved each other so much, they had to make a great sacrifice for China. Wentai turned out to be a prince and in order to stop the war with the Rourans, he must marry the Rouran princess (Yuxin Liu). In the end, Mulan and Wentai parted ways. The only consolation is that they managed to survive the war.

Hua Mulan is an emotional movie about self-discovery and selflessness in the service of the nation. It’s about a war general but it didn’t showcase the gruesomeness of war. There’s no blood spraying around; not even an epic battle scene. But it managed to portray war’s brutality through the bloodied wooden dog tags of the fallen soldiers.

Simply put, Hua Mulan is a must watch.

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