Old Mulan vs New Mulan

mulan ft image

Hello, it’s November and my birthday month so today I’m talking about one of my favorite Disney movies to date: Mulan. Since Disney decided to make a new one, I thought it’d be fun to do a comparison that I’d like to share with you.

Background information~

So Mulan is based on the story/folklore/real-life tale (no one is really sure if she was real or not) of Hua Mulan or The Ballad of Mulan. Disney isn’t the first to tell the story of Mulan, nor will they be the last. I’m in no way qualified to talk about the history or culture of this piece so here is the Wiki.

My personal history with the movie isn’t complex. It came out during the golden age of Disney when they made original content by stealing stories and turning them into a film. Wait a second…

Anyway, growing up, I had a babysitter who LOVED loves Disney. We would sing the songs, watch the movies, learn the dances, read books, and play games centered around these characters. It was awesome. As a kid, Belle was always my favorite because I was a lot like her but Mulan is probably my favorite classic Disney princess now. This is one of those movies I can recite line for line while watching (Meet the Robinsons is another). I’ve always admired it for showing you you don’t have to be one thing. You can be both tough and feminine, and don’t have to necessarily fit into a box.

Trailers:

Comments while watching

New Mulan

  • Pretty rice(?) Fields
  • Cool set
  • All this for a chicken? this reminds me of when Hercules comes to town 
  • It would have been better if he said warriors, not wives. How old is she supposed to be? When is it customary to be married/off to the matchmaker
  • This scene was better when it was at night. It had more tension, mystery.
  • Sure take out magic ancestors and Mushu but put in witches and magic? I don’t get it 
  • Not a witch with clawed goblin hands
  • Just saying: people don’t like being compared to dogs
  • If only there was a musical number for this part
  • I miss old matchmaker and grandma 
  • I thought you already had a match? This is backward. 
  • If this is the haircutting scene you are doing original a disservice music-wise
  • How dare you cut another great song
  • Buddy you’re going to be disappointed 
  • Insults is how we survive without Mushu
  • 🎶drink with me🎶
  • It would have been cool if the witch was not real and she was a representation of Mulan battling her inner turmoil
  • Why are you leaving your armor
  • Isn’t that a roman defensive maneuver
  • There was no reason for you to expose yourself 
  • Again if she was a psychological villain, this would be better 
  • Why does all the fighting look very unrealistic 
  • Couldn’t you use your arrow dodge chi you’ve been doing all movie
  • I would have also been ok if the male villain wasn’t the final boss but the witch was
  • Honhui, your fight should have been long over
  • Honghui looks like he wants to marry Mulan
  • I’ll see you again…in the matchmaker’s office (nope)

Old Mulan

  • The traditional painting opening, the music 😍
  • Perfect intro to the villain: “Now all of China knows you’re here” he’s not even phased
  • “One man may be the difference between victory and defeat” transitions to that “man”
  • Oh yea, they cut little brother from the new version 
  • SMACK
  • Intro to our noble steed for the rest of the movie
  • Dad’s intro: praying for his daughter because he knows she’s not like other girls
  • Can’t believe they cut grandma and lucky cricket…comedy gold
  • Casually causes a traffic wreck
  • I’d be shaking in my boots too
  • Mom’s not thrilled
  • Honor to us all – shows the expectations of this culture in case you are unfamiliar. What does honor mean? What are the roles of different genders in this society? 
  • Shows Mulan as a strategist by winning the checkers by simply passing by the game
  • Mulan stands up to bullies, giving the doll back to the girl
  • I just noticed it’s mostly women watching the girls meet the matchmaker
  • I love the different styles of each girl

COMEDY GOLD

  • She’s great at improvisation
  • Another great one-liner from grandma
  • Everyone knows of Mulan’s dishonor 
  • One messy strand before, 2 messy strands afterward. If they are symbolic it could be 2 ways she doesn’t exactly “measure up”.
  • Reflection is perfectly beautiful
  • Mulan is kind, releasing lucky cricket vs killing him
  • Much needed pep talk from dad because she feels bad about letting her family down. 
  • “Stay inside” – mom “Go to the roof” -grandma
  • Showing more social roles
  • Wouldn’t the guy who volunteered for his dad recognize Mulan since they are from the same village? I guess there’s no guarantee they’d be in the same faction…
  • Graceful sword movements
  • As previously stated, Mulan stands up for what’s right
  • With this family argument, we have solidified this movie will be about identity 
  • Call back to reflection
  • 2 messy strands
  • You can see her go from despair to decision making time, it’s so beautiful
  • Famous hair cutting scene
  • They gave her a more angular jawline so she’d look like a man XD I love animation
  • Setting up the rule, if she’s killed she will be killed. Mulan would know this. 
  • They’ve been dropping the spirituality of ancestral prayer but now the audience sees the other side
  • I love Mushu, can’t believe they replaced him with some Pheonix when there’s clearly a dragon motif. It also subtly shows how far Mushu fell. 
  • How do mom, dad, and grandma not notice the broken great stone dragon statue?
  • So Disney villains are always red, black, and purple and Mushu/lucky cricket are both that color scheme which makes sense since Mushu goes after Mulan for selfish reasons, and cricket kind of costs Mulan her marriage proposal.
  • The music here <3
  • One of these guys is clearly scared the other becomes scared. I noticed one is older than the other so my new theory is one has heard of Shan Yu or has previous exposure with him.
  • I wonder if this was his previous title before his fall

DISHONOR

mushu GIF
mushu GIF
  • I love the running gag that the horse is everything but a horse. Cow, sheep, etc
  • Subtle introduction to our besties
  • Shang~
  • Not to brag or anything with that “impressive military history” XD
  • More black/red because they pose a challenge for Mulan and she must keep her secret from them
  • Rough beginnings
  • Purple on the guy from the emperor because he’s a mild annoyance
  • Yes, Mulan use your man voice
  • Comedy
  • I like how everyone in the background is static except our eventual besties
  • Cricket alarm clock 🙂
  • Back to the rounder girl face until he ties back her hair
  • Top 10 fail compilation
  • Sing to me, Donny Osmond 🙂
  • Irony
  • Any smoke or clouds are so beautiful in this movie
  • I would expect Mulan to have some muscle if she’s a farm girl. Taking care of crops is not easy labor
  • So extra, I love it
  • Howdy troops, time for a tactical training exercise
  • Back to the round face
  • More great one-liners from Mushu
  • Irony
  • You might be biased sir
  • The cricket has a smirk, I’ve never noticed before
  • I feel like you’d give the emperor a “World’s greatest boss” mug
  • “No way after you call me cow” -horse
  • “And I do not squeal like a girl” ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT 
  • Last musical number of the movie
  • Something cool about this is in “Honor for us all” the expectations for what a girl should be to be a good wife and what the guys think to make a girl attractive are two different lists via “A Girl Worth Fighting For”. 

Tone shift!

  • Goes to show, you don’t need up close dead bodies or gore to show a compelling scene with carnage
  • In a way, he’s still there. 
  • I like how everyone has different colors of armor, I don’t know if it signifies rank but my personal canon is they are all hand-me-down armor from their fathers, brothers, etc. since boys take their father’s place in the war 
  • You told her you were invincible
  • Wouldn’t last one minute against the hun, chancellor? 
  • Strategist Mulan swooping in to save the day
  • Wouldn’t it be better to block the attack rather than take it? I guess you wouldn’t want your arms cut off
  • Reckless but effective
  • It isn’t over until it’s over🎶🎶
  • For all that training, it takes all of you to lift them up XD
  • King of the mountain, continuing the king of the rock theme.
  • Besties were ready to defend her.
  • “A life for a life, my debt is repaid” is such a raw, powerful line. 
  • We’re all coming clean now. 
  • Shirtless in the snow? Y’all are brave
  • You lost almost your entire army and you continue towards your goal?
  • 1 strand of hair.
  • Is no one going to say anything to her for stopping the heroes of China
  • If both men and women have updos and she’s still wearing men’s clothing…she could still pass as a man, just saying

Reprise Be a Man 🙂

  • Everyone in this movie has impressive eyebrows, just saying
  • Time for more improv. Remember, the first rule of improv is yes, and. “I’m coming towards the rope” “Yes, and I’m going to cut it before you get here”
  • Different culture, different standards for soldiers
  • “Do you have a plan” “Yes and I need your help to execute”
  • She has the tools of a woman, the skills of a warrior and uses both to take down her adversaries
  • Yes, Shang beat him up for saying Mulan is a creature not worth anything
  • Highly honored
  • Aw, I love this part
  • The best pick up line goes to Shang XD
  • “Let me spell it all out for you”-emperor
  • Mulan now matches her dad, that’s kinda cool
  • She still thinks he only cares about honor but it’s here that he tells her that her worth comes from being herself. 
  • Just wait, grandma
  • “Go make your move Mulan” -dad

Final Thoughts

So it’s pretty obvious that I prefer the original Mulan to the new 2020 version and that seems to be the consensus. I have twice the notes for the original! To begin, I mention the music a lot because I LOVE musicals (and I’m an ex choir kid). I’m not qualified to talk about the intricacies of music writing but here is a video from someone who is. Back in the golden age of Disney, the music was integral to the story, if a song could be cut without damaging the story, it was. By cutting out the songs for instrumental versions, you’ve essentially cut out parts of the story and the replacements don’t make sense.

Another issue I have is the message. I know for many Mulan is a part of feminism because a tough woman saves herself long before Frozen came along and I think Disney wanted to lean into that theming. There’s something that we have all overlooked about the original though. Yes, Mulan saves all of China through her heroic actions but she’s also able to secure a marriage with Shang. By doing both she has come full circle, bringing honor to both home and country and thus both sides of her identity. By cutting out Shang, Mulan never technically finished her arc.

Even in the final battle, she encourages her besties to embrace both sides of her identity, utilizing tactical strategy and improv to defeat Shan Yu and his cohorts. Concubines are valuable and the Huns showed restraint in killing them. Had they shown up in their armor, they would have been killed on sight. That’s what I call a military strategy.🙂

Speaking of the heroine, can we talk about her for a second? I’ve mentioned Mulan is a strategist and improv pro so can someone tell me why she acts rashly in the 2020 version? Why would you expose yourself as a girl when there is no reason? I’ve heard it said there is a time for everything and the middle of battle is not the time. I understand they were trying to draw parallels between Mulan and the witch but she already has that in the form of the characters around her.

I apologize if any of this sounded harsh, I want to understand the drastic changes presented to me. It makes me miss the days where Disney made fairytales into movies. Can we go back to that? There are so many you haven’t touched. So many cultures to explore. Moana was good. For me, you don’t have to call out a character is strong in order for them to be strong. You can show it instead. I get Disney wants to make everyone happy and not offend anybody. I think it’s worth noting some fairytales were made to offend because they served as warnings or teachable moments.

Thank you for reading my comparison of the Mulan movies, I appreciate it. Comment below what your favorite take of Mulan is. Was I on the nose? Is there something I was missing? If you like my content, consider subscribing to my mailing list and if you want another comparison movie review, click here.

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