HomeBad Ass AsiansMulan Is a badly needed Non-White Female Heroine

Mulan Is a badly needed Non-White Female Heroine

By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer

It is timely that the live action film Mulan is finally going to be released for streaming on Disney Plus (Friday 4 September). Right now, a female heroine who is Asian is needed to fill a depressing void.

More importantly, Mulan, played by Liu Yifei, isn’t just representative of a lead Asian character, but she is a bad ass female warrior who fought in wars at a time in China where women were just expected to get married and be a ‘good wife’.

For the Asian diaspora who were born or grew up in non Asian societies, Mulan has been a Disney character which we could identify with, but for those in Asia and more specifically China, she is a historical fictional character who lived during the Northern and Southern dynasties between 420 and 589 CE. Regardless of how many of us Asians have identified with Mulan, her character is significant in being a role model for both Asian and non white girls, growing up and trying to find out where they belong in the world today.

Back in early March and before COVID lockdowns, I attended the press screening of Mulan, and right after it, I went to have a quick 2 – 3 minute chat with Liu Yifei.. I asked her a question in Mandarin about what Mulan means to young Asian girls growing up to an ‘unknown future’, and how difficult was it to live up to such a legendary character?

“Hua Mulan was an independent and passionate character who would do anything for the best of her family,” Liu told AsAmNews. “Her love for her father is shown through the sacrifice she made by dressing as a male soldier and joining the army in her aging father’s place. Her character, and the story behind Hua Mulan inspired me to play the best version of her that I could in order to live up to the role model her story has created for generations of Asian girls and boys. Her passion and her determination to pursue her goals despite society being against her, is what young Asian girls and boys should take away from the film/character today, and know that anything is possible.

“To be honest, it is an uncertain feeling thinking about how I performed playing Hua Mulan, but later on I realized that I put the best performance I could and that is what the legend behind her story is all about – being the best version of yourself and trying your best. That is what ‘Hua Mulan’ did in order to achieve what she set out to do”.

Mulan with Yifei Liu
Photo by Jason Boland

All in all, no matter what your opinion is of the live adaptation film itself after you have watched it, one thing is for sure and that Mulan is the female heroine we need at this time. Her fighting spirit, determination and the idea of her being a bad ass warrior who trumped all the male soldiers in her infantry are the traits young Asian and non white girls today should take from the Disney live adaptation as inspiration.

It is also another film which has and will set the scene for more major feature films telling Asian/Asian diaspora stories and defying negative racial stereotypes. It is interesting to see the merging of major Asian film industries ( and in this case China) and the Western film industry working together to bring a film with a full Asian cast ( who are from all over the world). In my day, growing up as a young Asian girl in Australia, I could never imagine some of these major steps forward happening, so hopefully this is just a start of more authentic Asian stories/films to come.

Don’t forget Disney’s ‘Mulan’ will be released on Disney Plus for $30 tomorrow. But for fans who want to wait till December, you can stream it on Disney Plus for free ( if you are a Disney Plus subscriber). Although, if you do stream it tomorrow, there are a number of watch parties and virtual panels organized by #GoldOpen. . More information on this and how to subscribe can be found via this link: https://linktr.ee/goldopen .

 AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story.


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