A Chinese Perspective on Mulan


I never knew Mulan was such a hit in western countries and was the first exposure to Chinese culture for many foreigners. Let me share some of my thoughts after watching the movie last weekend.


Why does Dragon Blow Fire?

Like the dragons in the Game of Thrones, even the sea-horse shaped Mu Xu blows fire. Why is everybody obsessed with dragons breathing fire? One of my friends in the U.S. told me because dragons eat ghost peppers! That explains … nothing at all! 😂 

Dragons, in my perspective, are the symbol of China and often carved in the pillars and palaces and sewn on emperors’ outfits, indicating a touch of royalty and supremacy. 

Why would Chinese people create such an image? In the ancient times, many tribes were constantly at war. The winner would take a part of the totem from the defeated and is added it to its own. In that primitive age, most of the totems were derived from nature (mostly animals) and demonstrated people’s awe and respect. The tribe who had defeated most had a totem which had the head of camel, the antlers of deer, a neck of snakes, the eyes of a turtle, the palms of tigers, the claws of an eagle and the ears of oxen. THE dragon was born!


Crush on General Lee? Nice touch!

The 224-word ballad of Mulan is a story of aspiring patriotism and familial duty. As result, love affairs were no where to be found. However, I really appreciate the plot of the Disney film; it makes the story more modern and human. After all, people don’t want to go to the cinema to get some boring lecture on dedicating yourself entirely to your family and the country.


That Definitely Is not A Grandma!

The grandma in the movie is just another young girl who happens to have an ancient face - just the opposite of Melisandre! 

At the end of the movie when Grandma saw General Lee had come to Mulan’s house, she blurted out “sign me up for the next war!” Seriously? There is no way seniors would say such things, at least in China! 

Disney's Mulan turned the “sacrifice everything to family and country” girl into someone who is bold and courageous and seeks self-actualization. It is a well-adapted American movie based on a Chinese ballad. 😉


Zhang Yan, is the newest member of the GoEast Team. She is passionate about teaching Chinese as a second language and takes great interests in Chinese and western cultures. Especially Western TV shows!