Fans of Disney Studio’s live-action fairy tales will thrill at Mulan, slated to be released on July 24. As with Disney’s 1998 animated feature, Mulan depicts the legend of a young Chinese girl, Hua Mulan. Groomed for the traditional role as a wife and mother, Mulan defies tradition and the law at the peril of her life.

When the ruthless Huns—aided by an evil witch—attack China, the emperor demands that every family provide one male member to fight in the Imperial Army. Mulan’s aged father, an honoured former warrior, volunteers to serve, but he is ailing and weak. His wife and two daughters know that if he enlists, they will never see him again. Mulan, the eldest daughter, resolves to disguise herself as a man—Hua Jun— and fight in her father’s place. The battles that follow are the ultimate test of her courage and devotion.

Fight Like a Woman
When Mulan decides to unveil her true identity, instead of cowering in the face of danger, she embraces her inner courage and fights as only a woman can—with fierceness born of love and loyalty. A fellow soldier who had mocked her for her small stature during their training later tells the others, “She’s the best warrior among us.”

But is Mulan’s determination to bring honour to her family enough? Will her grit alone provide the strength she needs to help China overcome its enemies? Or will she die trying?

One in a Thousand
The popular Chinese actress Liu Yifei (Outcast, The Chinese Widow), beat out nearly a thousand other women for the title role. Yifei, known to Chinese audiences as “Fairy Sister” for her delicate looks, came to the role with experience in modelling, acting, singing and martial arts. Nevertheless, Yifei was still unprepared for the rigours of six- and seven-hour days of intense training in military marching, stunt fighting, sword training, horseback riding and archery.

In a behind-the scenes video produced by Disney, Yifei stated, “I wanted to see my abilities as an actor. I wanted to discover more, more, more. Mulan is discovering herself. Not on the surface, but deep inside.”

Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, The Zookeeper’s Wife) said, “Mulan has something for all of us and is as relevant and resonant as it was when it was first written more than 1,500 years ago.” The legend of Mulan, written as a ballad between AD 420 and AD 589, has become part of Chinese culture and is one of the first poems in Chinese history to introduce the notion of gender equality.

“Liu is everything an action movie hero should be,” added Caro.

Saving Our World
We all enjoy hearing legends about heroes who inspire us to accomplish more than we thought humanly possible. Mulan is a sterling example of one such legend: full of self-sacrifice, courage and family loyalty that led to heroism.

The story of Jesus is no legend. He didn’t simply dress up as a man. He became a man. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied himself” (English Standard Version). The only way God could save mankind from sin and make us His children was to take on flesh and blood and die in our place. Jesus is a true hero. He didn’t simply save one nation from enemy invaders. He saved the entire world from a life of hopelessness. Jesus’ self-sacrifice, courage and family loyalty changed our lives forever.

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