Mulan

Movie review by
Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media
Mulan Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Disneyfied but dignified tale of Chinese warrior.
  • G
  • 1998
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 85 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

In addition to positive lessons about teamwork and friendship, kids will learn a bit about Chinese culture (albeit a Disneyfied version).

Positive Messages

Ultimately, the movie's messages are about the importance of working hard and working together, being honest, and trying your hardest. Additional themes include humility, teamwork, and challenging gender stereotypes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mulan is brave and resourceful. While pretending to be a man, she displays crude and stereotypical male traits, but it's bravado and is played for humor. She demonstrates perseverance, integrity, and courage. Some of the male characters have old-fashioned ideas about what females are capable of, but they learn the error of their assumptions in the end. Mulan disobeys her father, but she does it to help and protect him. She also deceives her friends, but also for reasons that she thinks are right at the time. 

Violence & Scariness

Mulan joins the Chinese army during wartime. She learns to fight with weapons. The Huns destroy Chinese villages and kill people (not shown). Some of the battle scenes are scary and intense. Tense sword battle at the climax. Explosions.

Sexy Stuff

Some flirting. Shirtless male characters.

Language
Consumerism

Mulan is a Disney Princess, whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc. as well as in books, websites, and other media.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character smokes a long cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although Mulan is a decidedly Disneyfied take on a Chinese fairy tale, elements of Chinese culture and history ring true. It also offers kids a strong female character who (like Moana and Merida) stands out from the Disney Princess pack and offers a positive gender representation for young viewers (even though gender-related stereotypes are also sometimes played for laughs). Expect some scary/intense battle scenes, weapons use, explosions, sad moments, and a very menacing bad guy. The Huns destroy Chinese villages and kill people (not shown). There's a bit of flirting/romantic tension. While Mulan ultimately becomes a hero and helps her people, she does so by rebelling against authority, which is worth discussing. But in the end, this is a story about perseverance, teamwork, and courage that's bound to choke up dads and daughters everywhere.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMaraS June 29, 2015

Five year old was scared

I love this movie but my five year old daughter was too frightened by it. The war scenes are just too intense. I will try again when she's six or seven but... Continue reading
Parent of a 2 and 5-year-old Written bykekumukula November 11, 2009

You go, Mulan!

As a Chinese-American, I found this movie to be a positive one for our culture and my two girls. They LOVE this movie and watch it at least once a week. It is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTsuic2 April 19, 2019

Amazing, totally recommend

This movie is not all about white people which many films are about, It promotes wonderful messages such as gender equality and “you don’t have to be white to b... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bytheladyawesome December 15, 2019

One of the best "Disney Princess" movies, if not THE best

Reasons why MULAN is great: It depicts war in a family-friendly but raw way, the characters are all Chinese/it shows the Chinese culture, it centers around the... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the story of China's legendary girl warrior, MULAN, this animated Disney film begins as the Huns invade China and the army calls up its best soldiers. Mulan's father is on the list, but she can see that he's too weak from an old injury to fight. So instead of staying home to find a husband, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) dresses like a man and heads off to war, taking her father's place. Her ancestors try to send a powerful dragon to help her, but a scrawny dragon named Mushu (Eddie Murphy) sneaks off with her instead. Mulan struggles at first but becomes a brave and skilled fighter against the Huns -- and finds new friends in unexpected places.

Is it any good?

Disney took a gamble on Mulan -- she doesn't fit the princess mold, and most moviegoers had never heard of her -- and the end results are a bit mixed. The songs and supporting characters aren't particularly memorable, but the settings are gorgeous, and Mulan herself is one of a kind in the Disney canon (it's too bad that in the end she still needs to be married off to a "Prince Charming" who saves the day).

Still, many aspects of Chinese culture are incorporated into Mulan -- such as reverence to one's ancestors, the significance of dragons, and the importance of honor. The DVD includes a feature that shows how the filmmakers researched not only the Mulan legend but also Chinese art, architecture, history, and culture. There's also a feature for kids that explains the film's many cultural references, as well as deleted scenes and songs.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Mulan reconciles defying her parents' wishes and the law versus doing what she thinks she must. When should people follow their inner beliefs first and foremost?

  • Do you consider Mulan a role model? How does she compare to Disney's other heroes?

  • How does Mulan demonstrate perseverance, integrity, and courage? Why are these important character strengths? 

  • How do Shang and the other soldiers learn humility and teamwork in Mulan?

Movie details

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