The original ballad of Hua Mulan dates back to the 6th century, although many believe its based on historical events a century earlier. Since then, the story’s been retold as a poem and then a novel. Her story has inspired many stage, TV and movie adaptations, including the popular Disney version which didn’t feature too well in China, but is still one of my favourite Disney movies. Audiences didn’t feel they could relate to the character, leaving her portrayal quite unrecognisable for Chinese viewers.
In the original story, Mulan had a younger brother who was too young to take her father’s place but in the movie – he’s a dog. I didn’t grow up with the folk tale so for me, Ming Na Wen and Lea Salonga were two big drawcards.
The live-action version won several awards including Best Actress for Wei Zhao. At just 18, she took the place of her ill and elderly father and fought in the army for 12 long years, steadily climbing the ranks to general. Understandably, it’s a more graphic retelling of the story and tear-worthy in places.
I decided to watch Mulan: Legendary Warrior (an alternate name for the live adaptation) a second time and was not disappointed. However, I’ll be ending the night on a lighter note so I’ll follow that up with the Disney version.