花木蘭 – A Movie Review

As this was a Chinese movie, I went to watch it with my mum since I know she will enjoy this movie. For a start, the story of 花木蘭, or Hua Mulan in Pinyin translation is one that many Chinese know, and it has been intepreted in novels, history books, drama serials, operas and even a Walt Disney animation! In 2009, they came out with the movie version.

《花木蘭》 電影海報 Movie Poster for the movie Hua Mulan, from Sina.com

The last great chinese movie I got to catch was 赤壁 (Red Cliff) by John Woo, and while this movie does not have the blockbuster effect of that, it had a very nice presentation itself. As cliches goes, the start of the movie shows the barbaric tribesmen of the north invading the civilized, bountiful land of the Central Plains. Continuous defeats have resulted in the drafting of soldiers and in one particular village with lot of veteran soldiers are recalled to serve in the army. Mulan, potrayed by Zhao Wei, does the filial act and takes her father’s place. The direction of this particular scene forms the foundation of the movie and Jingle Ma as the director potrayed it well by ensuring it doesn’t take up much screen time and still have that memorable effect on viewers.

From here onwards, the plot goes to slot in scenes of Mulan in camp, whilst meeting what will be her saviour and lover, Wentai, acted by Chen Kun. One flaw of the movie lies in the convenient storytelling of Wentai and Mulan eventually taking over the command of the camp while a suprise rout causes the fatal death of the camp commander. However, the movie is saved by the nicely done scenes involving both the lead actor and actress. As such, this is a war movie that succeeds, in my opinion, because it plays on the presence of love in times of difficulties. And as with many previous China-financed period war dramas, the idea of human sacrifice for the greater society/good is inherent in much of the film.

On the overall, I would have to say I did enjoy the movie, and was truly inspired by the act of filial piety that will drive a lady to take her father’s place to fight in a war. This shows the film does what it is meant to do – which is to bring out the full flavour of the story. And that is why I think it deserves to be enjoyed in the big screen!

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