P.S.: This post is FULL of spoilers.

P.P.S.: Even if you don’t care about spoilers, you might need to watch the movie to understand this one.

Picture Credit: www.forbes.com

Mulan is a tale about a young woman who disguised herself as a man so she could replace her frail father in the army.

It is a story for the ages; practically a national treasure to the Chinese.

Mulan is also one of the most fascinating mess I’ve come across in a long time. It’s just a movie. But at the same time, it’s also a prism that has interrogated our values out of their deepest chambers.

Even before the movie was released, it was already plagued with controversies. The titular actor, Liu Yifei, retweeted a post supporting the Hong Kong police that led to #boycottmulan. I have since learned that the incident was deeply nuanced, and I encourage everybody to do their research. Liu Yifei was clearly a lemming. This I say: NO to police brutality; YES to democracy.

All in all, the general consensus is that Mulan tried toooo hard to win the Chinese market while still somewhat (unsuccessfully) appealing to their western audience.

Disney bent over backwards to lick China’s ass. They cut out a kiss because it didn’t test well with the Chinese crowd. They removed Mushu because the Chinese found him trivial. The list is endless. YET. They are failing at the Chinese box office.

In an attempt to please everyone, all they did was find themselves in the crossfires of a geopolitical war (google xinjiang, mulan, and credits). May this spectacular failure act as a lesson that we can not please all of the people all of the time. Pick a side and stick with it.

Besides, Mulan is also a litmus test of how Chinese a person is. See, a “banana” me could tell that something was culturally off, or like Zula writer Asher Man wrote, ” The Mulan 2020 Remake Is Basically Jamie Oliver’s Egg Fried Rice With Chilli Jam and No ‘Wok Hei’,” but it took someone really in touch with their Chinese roots to verbatim the inaccuracies. Xiran Jay Zhou made an excellent video. Seriously, I think she deserves a medal.

Note to Disney: If you’re trying to win the Chinese market, don’t just hire a Chinese cast. Also hire Chinese writers who understands Chinese culture. Not to mention a Chinese director and a Chinese costume designer.

Politics and the like aside, the creative content of Mulan has been fair game for movie critics all across the globe. Everyone has an opinion on how it stacks up against its 1998 animated counterpart. The disapproval is endless.

But truth is, I really did enjoy the movie—all three times. Perhaps I dig that woman-masquerade-as-man trope, or I am Jamie Oliver’s egg fried rice and I march to the beat of this pseudo-Chinese drum.

Reading the Mulan Live Action Novelisation has been very helpful, because this gave me an idea of what the organic story was supposed to be, before all the cuts and modification. Each scene is described in depth, because a movie is not necessarily worth a thousand words. There is only so much even the best actors can convey.

Next, I hope to address much of the criticism rallied against the movie by listing 5 parts of the movie that made more sense because of the book. However, there are 2 scenes that are so fucked up that the book is no help. Then, I talk about Li Shang (the beloved character who was not included in this movie) who is a bisexual icon, and how Honghui measures up against him. Last but not least, I’m giving this movie an alternate ending.

FIVE PARTS OF THE MOVIE THAT MADE MORE SENSE BECAUSE OF THE BOOK

ONE: The Phoenix

A major criticism of the movie is how they jump from scene to scene with little coherence. After reading the book, it became apparent that these disconnects exist because they removed one major plot: The Phoenix as a guardian. In the book, the Phoenix is kind of like a Mushu that doesn’t talk.

In loving memory of Mushu who did not make it into the live action film.
Picture Credit: www.hero.fandom.com

In the animated Mulan, Mushu—through a series of comical yet unintended events—set off on a mission to protect Mulan.

Just like the phoenix.

The bird didn’t move—at first. Then, as Mulan watched, it shifted on its feet. Bringing its wings behind it, the bird stretched out its neck as if in mid-flight. Mulan gasped as she began to recognise the elongated neck, open wings, and powerful stance. Could it be?

“The phoenix statue?” Mulan ventured, seeing the creature for what it was: the bird from her family’s shrine brought to life. ~Chapter 9

You remember that scene where kid Mulan broke the wing of the phoenix statue? That’s the one.

The Phoenix

In the book, we were first introduced to the phoenix after Mulan left home. In the beginning, the phoenix was an ugly bird. Even Mulan, especially Mulan, was grossed out.

But before he could finish, a loud, ugly bird appeared out of nowhere. ~Chapter 8

Looking up, she saw the ugly bird once again standing in her way. ~Chapter 9

In fact, at some point, Mulan was so hungry that she tried to eat the bird. “Ugly didn’t necessarily mean not tasty.”

As you might have noticed, the “ugly bird” (phoenix) made a nuisance of herself until Mulan grudgingly accepted her. The process was long and tiresome. When Mulan eventually admitted that she might need the Phoenix after all, she was way into her training at the conscription camp.

Furthermore, the phoenix remained ugly throughout. It was only in this scene that the phoenix became not ugly/ remotely attractive:

Picture Credit: www.insider.com

Probably to symbolise the “rising from the ashes,” of which is, BTW, not the Chinese concept of the phoenix at all. It’s a western depiction.

But anyway, Mulan could not have done without the Phoenix. While in the movie, the Phoenix just kinda glided around like some airborne emblem, book Phoenix was actually crucial to Mulan’s survival.

Here are three occasions when the phoenix saved Mulan’s ass:

1.The Two Fake Monks: Saving Mulan’s Armour and Sword

In the movie, we go from Mulan’s home to conscription camp in a matter of minutes. She spends like, 1 second in a bamboo forrest, 2 seconds in the mountains, then wakes up in a desert-like location with the Phoenix gliding overhead as Mulan looked on with admiration.

Then, we cut to the next scene where the recruits trot into the conscription camp.

In the book, Mulan achieved quite some substantial character growth before she even reached the conscription camp. The scene in the movie when she roused in the desert-ish-place? She was hungover after a drunken night.

She met two fake monks: Ramtish and Skatch. These two characters were not in the final movie, but we know that they were supposed to be, because they were cast. But more on these two fake monks later.

Anyway, Ramtish and Skatch got Mulan drunk with the intention of stealing her sword and armour. But the phoenix would have nothing of that.

Not waiting for Skatch’s permission, Ramtish leaned down and reached to unlace the young warrior’s armour. But before he could finish, a loud, ugly bird appeared out of nowhere. Ramtish swung his arms around, trying to keep the bird at bay. But the creature kept coming, its eyes wild and sparse feathers flying. ~Chapter 8

So, the two bandits made do with just Mulan’s horse, Black Wind. Leaving behind the armour, the sword, and a very drunk Mulan.

2. Getting Naked With Honghui: Protecting Mulan’s Identity

Before I proceed, I want to thank Niki Caro (the director of Mulan) for bringing this scene of a topless Yoson An (Mulan’s love interest, Honghui) into our lives. Regardless of how Mulan performs, this public service of hers will never be forgotten.

Now that I’ve expressed my gratitude for the finer things in life, let’s talk about the Phoenix and naked Honghui.

Picture Credit: Niki Caro’s Instagram

In the movie, as with the book, Honghui teased Mulan for stinking. Of course she stunk; she had not taken a single shower since she arrived at the camp. Didn’t want the rest to know she has boobies, you see.

But when she finally decided to take the advice of her comrades and dip into a lake to rinse all that yuck off her, who comes bounding in after her if not Honghui. As he stripped, he chaffed, “I see you’re finally getting clean. The 5th battalion thanks you!”

Naturally, Mulan was terrified. If he came any closer, he might notice that she had boobs. “I came here to be alone,” she told Honghui.

“Hua Jun (Mulan’s male name), we started off on the wrong foot,” Honghui replied. “Can we be friends?” he asked.

“I am not your friend,” Mulan said, determined to get rid of him.

Honghui was slight taken back. With hurt in his voice, he said, “Very well… but you are my equal. Together we fight against the same enemy… You can turn your back on me, but when the time comes, do not turn your back on them (their comrades).”

Then, he left slowly.

I know critics find this completely unsatisfying, because afterwards, they just sort of jump right back into their friendship. Well, if you ask me, it’s because of the giant hole left behind by the guardian Phoenix.

In the book, things unfolded very differently. When she said “I’m not your friend,” he was confused and angry.

“Then look me in the eye and say that,” he demanded. “I’m not leaving here until you look me in the eye and tell me we’re not friends.”

And then it was super Phoenix to the rescue.

Then mulan saw a flash of white moving along the surface of the water. Lifting her eyes, she saw the Phoenix. The bird folded its wings and dove towards the water’s surface. She pierced the water behind Honghui with a SPLASH!

Hearing the sound, Honghui spun around. He peered into the water, trying to see beneath the surface. But the Phoenix’s plunge had stirred the lake bottom and turned the water murky. “What was that?” Honghui asked, nervously scanning the water’s surface.

“There’s something down there!” Then his eyes grew wide and he let out a shout as the Phoenix nibbled at his legs. Not waiting to see what was biting him, Honghui turned and began to swim frantically to the shore. ~Chapter 17

And that was how the Phoenix protected Mulan’s identity.

3. Fighting Xianning (the “Witch”): Keeping Mulan Alive

Xianning, played by the goddess Gong Li, is the protagonist of this version of Mulan. Like the antithesis to Mulan’s “honour”.

She is the cautionary tale of a woman who does not control her chi. More on chi later.

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At one point during a fight between Xianning and Mulan, the ice beneath Mulan cracked and she fell into the icy water below. It was the Phoenix that pulled Mulan out of the water and saved her from drowning.

However, the whole part where Mulan plunged into the water was cut from the movie, although you can tell that they did film it, since Mulan suddenly became drenched from head to toe for no apparent reason.

Again, cutting guardian Phoenix removed a chunk of the creative end-product.

TWO: Mulan’s Initial Show of Toxic Masculinity Against Honghui at the Conscription Camp

As Mulan stood in line to register at the conscription camp, some of the other soldiers started roughing.

One bumped into her and she fell to the ground.

Honghui, flashing that megawatt-heartthrob smile, extended a hand to help her up. “Need some help, little man?” he asked in the movie (he called her “tadpole” in the book and I have no clue why).

Mulan found this very condescending, so she drew her sword at Honghui and snarled, “Touch me again and you’ll taste the tip of my blade.”

Picture Credit: www.polygon.com

This toxic-masculinity display did okay as a standalone, but there was more background to this in the book.

You might recall Skatch and Ramtish, the two fake monks.

But to tell their story, we have to rewind quite abit.

After Mulan left home in the cover of the night, she travelled through tedious distances for the conscription camp. En route, the rice she brought with her was long gone. Ravenous, she tried to eat the Phoenix.

That didn’t work out.

So when she arrived at a village, she tied her horse, Black Wind, to a post and made her way into the only tavern in town.

She ordered herself a bowl of noodles with pork. (The options were “noodles with pork or pork with noodles”.)

The innkeeper took her order but didn’t budge. “Pay before you eat,” he told her.

Which was fine. Except Mulan had no money. Instead, she tried to pay with tea. Sarcasm coloured the man’s face. “The soldier wants to pay with tea!” he informed the room loudly.

Cruel laughter flooded the room. They laughed Mulan out of the tavern, her stomach still growling.

This entire exchange was witnessed by Skatch and Ramtish.

Later, they cornered her and offered her food—they planned to rob her, if you remember. Her growling stomach did all the thinking.

In the meantime, they found it apt to impart a few kernels of wisdom. “If you’re going to be a soldier, you’ve got to be a man,” Ramtish told Mulan.

“You walked into that tavern tonight like you were hiding something.” This time, he imitated Mulan’s shrinking figure as she entered the tavern. Ramtish laughed. Skatch stopped and planted his feet, squaring his shoulders before going on. “When a real man enters a room, he owns that room. It’s his territory…” ~Chapter 8


His hand whipped forward, grabbing the sword out of Mulan’s grasp. Before she could even blink, he had the tip of the blade pointed right below her chin. “Pay before I eat?” he said, as though he were addressing the innkeeper himself. “My payment’s the tip of my blade. So, either I eat now…or you die.” ~Chapter 8

Those two fake monks got more than Mulan’s horse. They got into her head.

THREE: Chi

I can totally see why this is such a contentious topic.

Let me just say that I agree that they’ve made Mulan a Mary Sue with that chi thing. I mean, OP much?

But I do not think that she is a superhero.

Let’s talk about chi. Chi is a common trope in Chinese literature. Each writer has their own take on it. I remember a particular novel (can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called) where the protagonist could use his chi to cause his adversaries to hallucinate.

In Mulan’s version, everybody has chi. As per Donnie Yen (Commander Tung)’s voice-over, only the most dedicated will connect deeply with their chi and become a great warrior.

Chi is not a super power.

Chi is some inner essence that everybody has but only few can access.

Child Mulan was in touch with her chi. I have no explanation for that. That rooftop-chicken scene was some wonky shit.

I have no explanation for this wonky shit.

But rooftop adventures notwithstanding, Mulan had to work hard to develop her chi. It was only after Commander Tung’s encouragement did she spend hours paying her dues.

When her shift was over, she made her way back to the lake, where she practiced under the light of the moon. With every swish of her sword, she felt her chi grow stronger. It blossomed, like the leaves on the magnolia tree by the lake’s shore. The sensation was empowering and strange, like something wholly new but also oddly familiar. ~Chapter 14

Ever since she and Commander Tung had spoken, Mulan had been able to think of noting but her chi. It consumed her. Fuelled her. Drove her. Every moment she could spare, she spent trying to focus on it. ~Chapter 14

Mulan worked hard to develop her chi.

In other words, she did have bursts of talents. But it was hard work and dedication that made her a great warrior.

For those that think the chi has removed any meaningful female empowerment, I beg to differ. She might have had some head start, but it was tough grind that truly propelled her ahead.

FOUR: Black Wind’s Disappearance and Reappearance

In the movie, Mulan’s horse, Black Wind, mysteriously disappeared when Mulan reaches the camp. He then reappeared when she went to battle.

I find that deeply unsatisfying.

In the book, Ramtish and Skatch stole Black Wind and replaced her with a donkey—not a very capable one at that. As a result, Mulan had to ride to the army’s encampment on a donkey with a “Phoenix that looked like a plucked chicken”.

Picture Credit: The book.

Nonetheless, Mulan was in for a pleasant surprise.

Before battle, at the entrance of Mountain Steppe Garrison where a Rouran attack had happened, who did Mulan see tied in front of a tavern across the garrison if not Black Wind? United at last!

Naturally, her next course of action was to march into the tavern where Skatch and Ramtish sat at a table staring at a map.

Next, she showed them exactly how well she could “own a room,” like they taught her to.

…Mulan leapt into the air and in one swift move, kicked Skatch with both her feet. Hard. He fell back, landing on the floor with a thud. His fake beard, knocked loose by the impact, hung from his chin. Turning, Mulan set her sights on Ramtish. The man instantly held up his hands.

“Not the face—” he started to say.

But Mulan didn’t let him finish. She leapt again and, this time, spun in the air before kicking Ramtish in the chest. His own fake beard went flying, landing in the middle of a table of very confused onlookers. ~Chapter 15

To wrap up Ramtish and Skatch’s story, they were sent to war with Mulan’s battalion, where they fought valiantly. Happy ending for all.

FIVE: Ripping Her Armour Off

Let’s go back to Mulna’s fight with Xianning.

Xianning hurled a dagger through the air and it landed on Mulan’s chest. Thank goodness though, the leather binding she used to encase her boobies saved her life, stopping the dagger before it could even pierce her skin.

The narrator said: “And Hua Jun did die, for a lie could only live so long. But Mulan? Mulan lived.”

Mulan looked down at the sword in her hand, at the word “true” emblazoned on the blade. Her image reflected back at her, and resolution creeped into her face.

So she jumped on Black Wind. As she rode back into battle, she tore off her vambrace and unclasped her breastplate—you know, the armour between a stray arrow and her vital organs. She undid the topknot on her head and shook her thick wavy locks down her shoulders like a bloody Pantene advertisement.

Yes, like the many movie critics out there, I found this completely ridiculous. Like, WTF?

Take off the armour that protects your vital organs? Great idea.

Well, please know that the book was slightly less ridiculous:

Mulan raced over and jumped onto Black Wind’s back. The horse whinnied as she urged him forward. Behind him, she heard flapping wings as the Phoenix took flight. Together, they raced across the valley in the direction of the battlefield. Her armour, loosened from the fight, fell to the ground piece by piece. The wind whipped her long hair around her face. There was no hiding who she was now. But she didn’t care. She was done pretending. The witch had seen her as enough of a threat to try to kill her. She was strong. She was no longer Hua Jun. She was Mulan. She was a woman. And she was a warrior. ~Chapter 17

So in the book, the armour just happened to fall off, and she did nothing to stop it. Still dumb, and nothing like the gender reveal in the animation. In the original Mulan, Mulan got injured saving Li Shang during battle. He instructed a doctor to tend to her wounds, and that was how her secret got out.

At least the events in the book is still one step better than intentionally ripping off the very last defence from a lurching spear.

TWO PARTS OF THE MOVIE THAT DID NOT MAKE SENSE DESPITE THE BOOK

ONE: That Fight Scene With Xianning

Maybe it’s slightly more acceptable that the original script did not have Mulan stripping her armour off, but that still does not excuse that whole scene.

Like, what? She happened to canter into a cloud of steam alone and Xianning happened to be there. Alone too. Where was Bori Khan? Mulan supposedly followed Bori Khan there.

Initially, I thought this scene was simply an allegory. I didn’t think they were literally alone in the middle of a battle. But what do you know—they were.

I get that the point of the scene was for Mulan be true to herself or something. But really???

TWO: “I Believe Hua Mulan!”

Mulan was exiled for being a woman. (Like, never mind that she saved the day. Got boobies? No no, off you go.)

Through Xianning, she discovered Bori Khan’s evil plan to attack the Imperial City and the emperor.

Flustered, she rushed to inform her battalion and the commander.

But he refused to believe her.

“Only a foolish man would listen to someone whose very existence is a lie!” the commander spat. He sought his sword, ready to execute her.

The soldiers looked at each other, dumbfounded.

Then Honghui stepped forward and said, “You would believe Hua Jun. Why do you not believe Hua Mulan? She risked everything by revealing her true identity. She’s braver than any man here. She’s the best warrior amongst us.”

As his words sank in, Cricket (Mulan’s comrade) stepped forward. “I believe Hua Mulan!” he enunciated.

“I believe Hua Mulan!”

Then all the other soldiers echoed, “I believe Hua Mulan!”

“I believe Hua Mulan!”

“I believe Hua Mulan!”

Commander Tung, who was ready to execute Mulan 5 seconds ago, turned to her and said, “Hua Mulan… you will lead us as we ride to the Imperial City.”

“Hua Mulan… you will lead us as we ride to the Imperial City.”

Like seriously, what the fuck? I remember turning to Broady and lamenting, “Because the Chinese army is a democracy.”

LI SHANG WAS A BISEXUAL ICON. DOES CHEN HONGHUI MEASURE UP?

The writers split Li Shang’s character into Commander Tung (Donnie Yen), who played a more fatherly role to Mulan, and Honghui, dreamy love interest.

This was due to the #metoo movement. They did not want to portray Mulan as in a relationship with a superior officer.

Disney is rather lacking in LGBT representation, and Li Shang was a queer icon as he was attracted to Mulan when she was male-presenting and later as a woman. When the live action Mulan removed his character, there was collective mourning for the lost of queer representation.

However, I argue that Honghui is as good, if not better, a bisexual icon.

In the movie, I think it’s inherently obvious that he had a crush on Mulan from the very beginning. Those stolen glances. Lingering eye contact. Including her in conversation when they were in a group setting. Not to mention his admiration for her when she outshone him in training again and again.

He was definitely attracted to Mulan when she was male-presenting.

The soldiers describe their ideal woman.

In one scene, the soldiers describe their ideal woman. Their dialogue include lyrics from the animated Mulan’s song I’ll Make a Man Out of You.

“I don’t care what she looks like; I care what she cooks like.”

Then, Honghui looked across the table at Mulan and asked, “Tell us, Hua Jun. What’s your ideal woman like?” He genuinely wanted to know.

“My ideal woman is courageous… And she has a sense of humour. She’s also smart.”

Afterwards, Mulan and Honghui found themselves alone in the barrack.

“How do you even begin to know how to talk to a woman?”

“How do you even begin to know how to talk to a woman, let alone be married to one?” Honghui asked.

“Just talk to her like you’re talking to me now,” Mulan replied softly.

Honghui sat up from the sleeping platform. “I wish it was that easy. What if she doesn’t like me?”

“She will,” Mulan said with certainty.

In the book, instead of the above conversation, this happened:

“I’m matched,” Honghui said, answering her unasked question. “And I’m hoping she’s courageous. And funny, and smart.” He paused and his eyes grew distant. Mulan wondered, as she looked at him, what he was picturing. Then he added, “Because she looks like a man.’ ~Chapter 12

Uhuh. Sounds like an admission to me. He admitted to being attracted to men. We don’t know if he felt conflicted about his attraction, the way Jin Xiuyi did in Hana Kimi when he was attracted to Elle’s Lu Ruixi (Ruixi was disguised as a guy, and Xiuyi fell in love with her. Xiuyi spent a good portion of the series being conflicted about his sexuality).

There’s quite a number of electrifying moments between Mulan and Honghui. Here’s one, right before battle:

Her eyes stopped on Honghui. To her surprise, he was staring back at her. For a moment, they held each other’s gaze. The other sounds faded away, and all Mulan could hear were the uneven gasps of her own breath and the pounding of her heart. She saw in Honghui’s eyes the same questioning look, the same unspoken apology, that she knew hers held. Both recognised this might very well be the last time they ever saw each other alive. And in that moment of realisation, all the competition and animosity fell away. In its place was something neither would have dared give voice to: respect… but also something deeper. ~Chapter 16

Later, after the whole hoohah, Mulan revealing her identity, fighting and winning the battle etc, she gained the permission of the emperor to return to her village. But before she left, Mulan and Honghui shared a farewell on the bridge. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife. This part is in the movie.

“Still won’t take my hand?”

What is not in the movie, though, is the kiss that follows.

Lifting her eyes, she met Honghui’s gaze. For the first time she truly looked at him and let him look at her… as Mulan. Her head moved closer to his. Closer, and closer, her lips inches from Honghui’s.

“I’ve never kissed a man before,” she said.

Honghui smiled. “Neither have I.”

And then, Honghui brought his lips to hers. As they kissed, their fingers stayed locked and Mulan sank into Honghui. It was, she thought as a morning dove cooed somewhere nearby, everything she had hoped for and nothing she could have dared dream for. It was perfect. ~Chapter 22

In my opinion, there is no question that Honghui is bisexual.

ALTERNATE ENDING

I don’t buy that the Rourans were born bad. More likely, they were oppressed by the ruling empire. That’s how pirates are born—from the ashes of oppression.

Starved, their territory stolen, supplies limited; retaliation was the only way. The great Khan, father of Bori Khan, was a freedom-fighter, a hero to his people. He was martyred by the tyrannical emperor.

Bori Khan’s transactional relationship with Xianning was complicated. She was fighting for personal reasons, yearning for a place to belong. Her own people had rejected her, calling her a “witch”; they could not handle her feminine strength.

Bori Khan and Xianning’s relationship was symbiotic even if it took Bori Khan some time to realise it.

Like every rebellion, there were un-oiled gears. The Rourans were a rough people, hardened from years of hardship. Xianning wasn’t always appreciated, but she knew her worth.

She believed in her cause: To liberate the Rouran people and defeat the empire. Then, she would carve for herself a permanent home.

Meanwhile, Mulan grew up, blinded by the propaganda of the empire. Especially after joining the Imperial Army, she believed that her duty was to serve the emperor.

The first time Mulan heard about Xianning, it was from the whispers in the conscription camp. “A witch fights beside Bori Khan,” the soldiers would say.

Mulan met Xianning for the first on the battlefield. By then, Mulan felt like she already knew her. “We are the same,” Xianning told her.

“We are nothing alike!” Mulan shouted.

But those words stuck with her.

They were both women with a powerful command of their chi. They were both rejects.

After Mulan’s expulsion from the Imperial Army, Xianning sought her out. “Join me,” Xianning offered.

“No!” Mulan yelled at first.

Then, slowly but reluctantly, she realised that Xianning was the only person that accepted her just the way she was. Nobody else did. Not her family. Not her fellow villagers. Certainly not the army.

Something remotely resembling a friendship started to blossom.

Eventually, Mulan started spending time with the Rourans.

They are rough around the edges, she thought. But they are human. They are the product of their circumstances.

That acquaintance with the Rourans slowly morphed into comradeship. Their misogyny was still as clear as day, but they grudgingly developed respect for Mulan and Xianning.

One night, the Imperial Army attacked the Rouran camp, slaughtering countless in their wake. As the Imperial Army make their hastened escape, Mulan spotted a familiar frame: Honghui.

As Mulan knelt by the bodies of those she had come to know as friends, tears raced down her cheeks.

Finally, Mulan’s universe kicked into detent. “I know my place,” she enunciated. “My place is to fight for the oppressed. To be loyal, brave, and true.”

Mulan, Xianning, and the Rourans rode for the Imperial City at first light to avenge their fallen comrades.

Mulan was on fire. Rage engulfed her. Finally, she saw the empire for what they were: bullies.

Although the Rouran army was small in comparison to the Imperial’s, the Imperial Army stood no chance.

It was a massacre.

Mulan and Xianning worked together flawlessly. After much bravery, they managed to corner the emperor.

Looking him in the eye—the patriarchy incarnate—Xianning raised her dagger, and plunged it right through the emperor’s heart.

The soldiers panicked.

Mulan and Xianning could have wiped out every single one of them, but they decided to have mercy.

The soldiers scrambled.

Then, amidst the fleeing backs of armour-clad men, Mulan spotted one armour-clad soldier that wasn’t running. He just stood there.

It was Honghui.

They shared a long look; the sexual tension saturated the air between them. For a moment, there was no time and space for Mulan. There was only Honghui.

After a long while, Mulan swallowed the agony inching over her. Even the adrenaline of the battle could not musk the pain of what she was about to do next.

She turned on her heels, mounted Black Wind, tears threatening to spill.

As she kicked Black Wind into a gallop, she heard Honghui’s deep voice calling to her, “Mulan!!!!”