A young woman takes the place of her ailing father when he is called up for military service and rises through the ranks to become a celebrated general during a campaign against an encroaching army of raiders.
Mulan was a story that was also adapted by Disney for one of its feature length cartoons and the general premise is the same; a skilled woman poses as a man and finds acceptance and the respect of her peers as well as the love of a comrade. It is this romanticism that makes Mulan a little too contrived and steeped in sentimentality in places but the overall effect of having a female lead makes a nice counterpoint to the usual macho posturing of the wartime epic. Its clumsiness, particularly in the relationship between she and her unrequited love, mars the story only occasionally and the finale that celebrates self-sacrifice and duty over saccharine is quite poignant.
Hardly in the same league as the best of Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou’s offerings, but Mulan still has enough to offer fans of historical swordplay.