Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Retro Review - Mulan

After being recommended this movie by a close friend for the hundredth time, i finally got a chance to watch it, and really am quite impressed.

For a Disney movie, this show is peculiar in that it does not have much of a love story. In fact, there isn't even a princess in the whole movie. With the "damsel" in distress being the male emperor who needs Mulan to save him, this is probably the most subversive of all Disney movies in terms of gender norms (Frozen had girl saving girl, so that was only a partial reversal) to date. I'm saying this as a good thing.

I am also quite impressed at how they managed to make this entire movie without anyone being killed outright on screen. While this is no surprise for a Disney children's movie, it is still a war movie, and i salute the team working on this for being so creative in getting around this challenge.

With no man to worry about, this show allotted a whole lot of time for character development, which was an area this movie did shine in. Mulan had big shoes to fill, and her growth in physical prowess and maturity is a strong image of women's empowerment.

My only gripe with this show was on the issue of race. The Chinese protagonist speaks with an American accent, and the sidekick Oriental dragon (with a Chinese name) speaks with an African American accent. Why must the lead character sound white and the supporting character sound black?

Also, some of the imagery is foreign to me (even though i'm ethnically Chinese). For example, putting a helmet on a sword to represent a fallen warrior is something i've only seen in western war movies.

I guess you can't have everything. Great at challenging gender stereotypes, but same old, same old for issues of ethnicity.

An impressive, feel-good, girl-power movie that I have less problems with than Frozen. I recommend watching the Mandarin dub of this instead of the English one however.

Bechdel Test: Failed - All the women talk about to each other about is marriage. But i have a feeling feminists are not going to complain about this movie,

No. of films seen this year with:
     White man saving the world - 1
     Non-white/male protagonist - 1 (I can't say it's not white, so this counts only once.)

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