Mulan (2009 film)
|Mulan: Rise of a Warrior|
|Directed by||Jingle Ma|
|Produced by||Jingle Ma|
|Screenplay by||Zhang Ting|
|Music by||Lee Shih Shiong|
Lee Wei Song
|Edited by||Kwong Chi-leung|
Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (simplified Chinese: 花木兰; traditional Chinese: 花木蘭; pinyin: Huā Mùlán), also known as Mulan: Legendary Warrior, is a 2009 Chinese film starring Zhao Wei as the titular protagonist. The director, Jingle Ma, has explained that this film is vastly different from the 1998 Walt Disney animated film and adheres more to his imagination. Zhao Wei was cast by Ma as Hua Mulan over actresses Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, and Liu Yifei, who were reportedly also considered for the main role.
In 450 A.D., the ruling Chinese dynasty is under constant threat from the Rouran tribes. The Chinese army conducts a nationwide draft. A retired soldier named Hua Hu insists on enlisting again to serve his country. Hua Mulan (Zhao Wei), his young daughter, is quite intelligent and skilled in various martial arts. But because she is a woman, she cannot enlist. At night, Mulan takes her father's armor and weapon, disguises herself as a man, and slips out of the house with the family horse. Enlisting with the Wei army in her father's place, she is recognized by her friend Fei Xiaohu "Tiger" (Jaycee Chan), who agrees to keep her secret.
Mulan befriends Wentai (Chen Kun), the battalion's sub commander, as well as other recruits "Scholar" and "Fatso" and his younger brother. Throughout the harsh military training, Mulan proves to be courageous and already skilled in combat, defending others from the bullying of the army commander's nepher, "Turtle".
One night, when Mulan is taking a bath in a secluded hot spring, Wentai unexpectedly runs into Mulan. After a brief skirmish, Mulan escapes without exposing her identity. However, Wentai becomes determined to uncover the woman hiding in the camp. To make matters worse, during training Turtle uknowingly dropped a valuable jade pendant, which Tiger furtively kicked into a nearby lake as an act of revenge. Accusing the battalion of theft, the army commander orders a strip-search. Tiger is unable to find the jade pendant in the lake and Mulan, terrified to reveal herself as a woman and tarnish her father's reputation, admits to have committed the theft.
In prison awaiting execution, she tells Wentai the truth that she is a woman and asks him to keep her death secret a secret from her father. Wentai agrees and states that he will personally burn her body so that nobody will know her secret. However, the Rourans launch a surprise attack on the camp and in the confusion Wentai releases Mulan from jail. Mulan however stays to fight and ends up killing the Rouran assault's commander. As a result, she is pardoned and is promoted to be a sub-commander. A funeral is held for the army commander, who died in the assault, and, having lost his uncle, Turtle ceases bullying and befriends the other soldiers.
Gaining further achievements throughout the war, eventually both Wentai and Mulan become generals, however Mulan has had to witness the deaths of her comrades including Fatso and his brother. During one excursion, Wentai and his men are ambushed and Wentai orders Mulan to stay behind to guard the army's supply train as he reinforces the front. Afraid for Wentai, Mulan delegates the order to Scholar and follows after him. Scholar and his men are ambushed in turn, and Mulan is devastated at the deaths she has caused. Wentai reminds her not to become emotionally invested on the battlefield. When she asks whether he would have done the same for her, Wentai says, "I wouldn't." When Mulan wishes to leave the army and no longer serve as a general, Wentai reminds her that none of them wish to fight and that she must do her duty regardless.
Allowing an apathetic Mulan to stay in camp, Wentai leaves for another battle. Tiger returns to inform Mulan that Wentai has died and that his final words were for her to remain strong. Devastated, Mulan turns to drinking and ceases maintaining and training her troops. Tiger and Turtle unsuccessfully attempt to rally the army to train even withiut a commander. Tiger confronts Mulan and demands that she do her duty, at which point Mulan recuperates and recommences training, eventually again leading her army to many successive victories. It is revealed that Wentai is in fact alive, and that he and Xiaohu are keeping this secret so that Mulan can remain emotionally unattached and strong.
Unhappy that the Rouran tribes are discussing ending their raids due to heavy casualties, Prince Mendu murders his own father and succeeds him as chief. Prince Mendu silences dissent in the Rourans and launches a huge attack force into the Wei land, intent on finally gaining metal-rich lands that the Rourans have lacked for generations.
Mulan proposes a strategy to the Wei army commanders that her army will initially engage the Rourans at a prrdetermined location, allowing for a larger Wei force to ambush the Rourans from behind. Mulan's troops fight strongly against the Rourans, but many, including Mulan, are injured in a volley of arrow fire. Suddenly, a huge dust storm known as the Poison Dragon appears, and everyone on the battlefield is consumed by it. When they regain consciousness, Mulan is reunited with Wentai and, seeing Rouran reserves entering the battlefield, orders a retreat back into the closed canyon. Injured Wei soldiers, including Tiger, are left behind in the hasty retreat. Knowing thag Mulan is trapped within the canyon, Mendu stops his army at the entrance. Supplies that were supposed to be pre-delivered are found to be missing, and so Mulan's forces rapidly languish in the following days. Mulan is very sick, but is kept alive by Wentai, who gives her his own blood to drink as the provisions of water have run out.
The Rourans goad Mulan's troops, executing the captured injured Wei troops, including Tiger, that were left behind during the retreat. Turtle is killed in an emotional attempt to stop the executions. When Mulan realizes that the Wei Commander-in-Chief isn't bringing his troops and has betrayed Mulan out of jealousy of her skill, she prepares her impoverished troops for a final fight to the death. However, Wentai goes to the front line and announces he is the 7th Prince of Wei, and offers to be taken prisoner in return for Mulan and her soldiers' freedom. Mendu takes him prisoner and delivers provisions and medics to Mulan and her troops.
Ordering her soldiers to return home without her, Mulan disguises herself as a Rouran woman and infiltrates Mendu's camp to save Wentai. Secretly meeting with the Rouran princess, she reveals her gender as a woman and two share their dream to stop the war and have peace. Mendu announces that the Wei emperor has agreed to Wentai's ransom and noisy celebrations initiate throughout the camp. Scuffling in Mendu's tent, Mulan assassinates Mendu with the help of the Rouran princess and the previous Rouran chief's loyal servant, Gude. She then returns to the Wei capital, where she at last reveals herself as a woman. The Wei emperor offers her any reward but Mulan asks only to return to her village to take care of her ill father. The emperor also announces the engagement of the Rouran Princess and Wentai to bring peace to the two empires. Back at Mulan's hometown, Wentai visits her to ask her to run away with him, but Mulan chooses the good of the country over their romantic relationship. He respects her decision, and the two share a long passionate embrace before Wentai departs.
The movie ends with Mulan saying, "Someone once said, go too far from home and you will lose your roots. Kill too many people, and you will forget yourself. If you die in battle, your life will sink into the ground like rain and vanish without a trace. If at that time, you fall in love with someone, hope will blossom again from the earth and embrace life passionately. Thank you, Wentai."
- Zhao Wei as Hua Mulan
- Xu Jiao as young Hua Mulan
- Chen Kun as Wentai
- Hu Jun as Mendu
- Jaycee Chan as Fei Xiaohu
- Nicky Lee as Hu Kui
- Liu Yuxin as the Rouran princess
- Yu Rongguang as Hua Hu
- Vitas as Gude
- Sun Zhou as the Wei emperor
On the film's opening day Beijing Screen, the Chinese government recognized Mulan: In 2011, Mulan earned the 9th Henan province governmental award - movie category of Achieving Five Top Project Prize
The end theme song performed by Stefanie Sun, "Mulan Qing" (木蘭情; "Mulan Love") was composed by Lee Shih Shiong with lyrics by Kevin Yee. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards. Vitas covered it in English as "Beneath the Glory".
An insert song, "Mulan Xing" (木蘭星; "Mulan Star"), was performed by Jane Zhang.
Awards and nominations
|10th Changchun Film Festival||Best Actress||Zhao Wei||Won|
|21st Golden Melody Awards||Best Producer for a Single Melody||Li Shih Song, Yee Kar Yeung||Nominated|
|29th Hong Kong Film Awards||Best Actress||Zhao Wei||Nominated|
|Best Original Film Song||Li Shih Song, Yee Kar Yeung and Stefanie Sun|
|30th Hundred Flowers Awards||Best Picture||Won-Runner Up|
|Best Actress||Zhao Wei||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Jaycee Chan||Nominated|
|19th Shanghai Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||Zhao Wei||Won|
|Vietnam DAN Movie Awards||Favorite Chinese Movie||Won|
|Favorite Chinese Actress||Zhao Wei|