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Hua Mulan

We all know the slightly romantic Disney Story Mulan. Which is indeed priced high in Shanghai Disney with her own float during the parade and all but besides the cartoon Hua Mulan is originally a ballad or poem written in the 11th 12th century (1000 to 1090 AD) with it’s historic setting in Nothern Wei ( 386-536 ). The ballad of Mulan consists of 31 couplets which are mostly phrased in 51 character phrases.

Starting it’s story of Mulan sitting behind her loom, worried for her elderly father as each male of each family is called to war. Her decision is to go in his place as she’s already a skilled warrior, her parents accepted her  decision and Mulan left to war and serves for 12 years without revealing her gender until she returned home. Mulan declined all rewards and job offers and only asked for a camel to make her way back to her family house.

Another version of her story is the Sui Tang Romance which provides different backdrops and plot twists. Here her story goes that she also enlists buts gets intercepted by the Xia King, who’s daughter Xianning was intrigued by Mulan as they were both warriors and they bond before becoming Sworn Sisters.

When Xianning’s father is caught siding with the enemy of the Tang Dynasty, the sisters surrender themselves but Mulan is sent home to bring the wedding funds to the general Xianning promised herself too, after she does she finds out her father has passed away and that her mother remarried. Hua Mulan is so distraught that she commits suicide.



This story hasn’t only inspired Disney but also there have been a couple of movies, series and even a few plays.


  • Mulan Joins the Army (1917 play) starring Mei Lanfang
  • The Legend of Marissa Inouye (2013 dance production) by the Hong Kong Dance Company


  • Hua Mulan Joins the Army (1927 film) – a silent film released by Tianyi Film Company and directed by Li Pingqian.
  • Mulan Joins the Army (1928 film) – Mingxing Film Company production, directed by Hou Yao. The film was unsuccessful, in part due to the Tianyi film that was released the previous year.
  • Mulan Joins the Army (1939 film) – popular Chinese film made during the Second Sino-Japanese War, directed by Bu Wancang and written by Ouyang Yuqian. The film also created a large spark of popularity, in terms of literature.
  • Lady General Hua Mu-lan (1964 film) – Hong Kong opera film.
  • Saga of Mulan (1994 film) – Film adaptation of the Chinese opera based on the legend.
  • The Secret of Mulan – A 1998 animated film by Hong Ying Animation, in which the characters are anthropomorphic animals.
  • Mulan (1998 film) – Disney animated feature, and the basis of many derivative works. Disney’s version of the Mulan character has subsequently appeared in other media and promotions, mainly as part of the Disney Princess product line.
    • Mulan II (2004 film) – Sequel that is set one month after the events of the Disney’s 1998 film.
  • Mulan (2009 film) – Live action film about the Chinese legend.
  • Mulan (2020 film) – Live action film from Disney that is a loose remake of the 1998 animated film.
  • Upcoming live-action adaptation of Mulan legend. Will be produced by Sony Pictures and directed by Alex Graves.

TV series

  • A Tough Side of a Lady (1998 film) – Hong Kong TVB drama series of Mulan starring Mariane Chan as Hua Mulan.
  • Hua Mu Lan (1999 series) – Taiwan CTV period drama serial starring Anita Yuen as Hua Mulan.
  • Jamie Chung portrays Mulan in the second, third and fifth seasons of the U.S. TV series Once Upon a Time (2012–2013).
  • Mu Lan 巾幗大將軍 (2012) – China production with Elanne Kong starring as Mu Lan
  • The Legend of Hua Mulan 花木蘭傳奇 (2013) – CCTV production starring Hou Meng Yao, Dylan Kuo, Liu De Kai, Ray Lui, Dai Chunrong and Angel Wang. It consists of forty-nine episodes.

Children’s books

  • I am Hua Mulan, by Qin Wenjun, illust. Yu Rong (2017) – in Chinese
  • The Ballad of Mulan by Song Nan Zhang (1998) – in English


  • Maxine Hong Kingston re-visited Mulan’s tale in her 1975 text, The Woman Warrior. Kingston’s version popularized the story in the West and may have led to the Disney animated feature adaptation.
  • The Legend of Mu Lan: A Heroine of Ancient China was the first English language picture book featuring the character Mulan published in the United States in 1992 by Victory Press.
  • In the fantasy/alternate history novel Throne of Jade (2006), China’s aerial corps is described as being composed of all female captains and their dragons due to the precedent set by the legendary woman warrior.
  • Cameron Dokey created ‘Wild Orchid‘ in 2009, a retelling of the Ballad of Mulan as part of the Once Upon A Time series of novels published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
  • In the comic, Deadpool Killustrated (2013), Hua Mulan, along with Natty Bumppo, and Beowulf are brought together by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (using H.G. Wells’ time machine) to stop Deadpool from killing all beloved literary characters and destroying the literary universe.
  • Reflection by Elizabeth Lim was published in 2018 as an installment in Disney Press’ Twisted Tales series. This is an alternate ending to the Disney film in which Mulan must travel to Diyu (The Underworld) in order to save her captain.


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