I know, I said I wasn’t going to watch this, but after two episodes I’m sucked in! The Story of Mulan is actually quite good. (And it’s not because of all my bias towards Dylan Kuo – I swear!) I would like to think non-Dylan fans will also enjoy this. But let’s be up front – The Story of Mulan sells itself as an idol drama in ancient costumes. So I’m not expecting things to be historically accurate and more lighthearted perhaps?
I should also put this disclaimer up front – I don’t normally watch historical dramas, my Chinese history knowledge is fairly dismal and embarrassing. In addition, apart from the Disney version (it could’ve been many many years ago and I barely remember any of it) I have not seen any of the other movies or TV adaptations of Mulan. Therefore, I’m quite curious what others (especially those who are familiar with the original poem / stories) think of this version.
I’m glad though, browsing through some of the news so far most of the negative comments only concentrated on how heavy the makeup is. I concede that is true, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t so fatal to discourage people to watch it. The leading actress, Hou Meng Yao is in her first acting role as Mulan. She is the emotional centre of this drama and so far she is actually doing quite a good job. Her crying scenes are natural and I like the chemistry she has with Dylan Kuo’s chracter – Prince Duo Lun / Mo Jiang.
Oh Dylan – I seriously think Ji Xiang En (from Ia Ia I Do) has travelled back in time and morphed into Duo Lun / Mo Jiang. As the second prince of Ruoran (Duo Lun), he has an arrogant air to him, while he enjoys playing a joke / making life difficult for Mulan. Think of him as your typical idol drama ‘bad boy’ – the kind who has a smug attitude and thinks he’s ‘all that’, all the girls are supposed to fall for him, but our heroine will look beneath that to find a kind hearted person. There’s also the mistaken identity angle, since he travelled to Northern Wei disguised as a horse trader named Mo Jiang. It was this gif set and another one here which made me get off my ass to watch this drama – the last gif in the 2nd gif set is hilarious!!
Since I’m watching this with the mindset of an idol drama of course I have to mention our OTP’s first meeting. Mulan’s father is conscripted off to war again so father and daughter were looking at horses. None caught their eye though, until our hero arrives on horseback, in slow motion. I nearly fell off my chair. (I’m thinking of that ‘dream wedding’ he described in the BTS of Ia Ia I Do.)
Suddenly everyone in town gathers along the road to watch because you know, reasons. Mulan likes what she sees… (or maybe she was just looking at the horse and not him) while Mo Jiang also catches the eye of Fu Ling, who is a friend/rival of Mulan’s.
I shall link this glorious gif set again because my words cannot describe this scene. LOL. Mulan and her father asked Mo Jiang whether the horse is for sale but Mo Jiang just laughs and brushes them off, saying no one can put a value on his precious white horse. Mulan is not pleased!
Later on, Mulan and her friends bump into Mo Jiang and his gang. She doesn’t hesitate and just goes up to him and asks about the horse again. She even offered to pay twice the price for it, but again he laughs and simply said:
If you can tame the horse, then I will give it to you.
Being the gutsy girl she is, Mulan jumps on the horse and it speeds away. Mo Jiang even thought she might be some kind of expert, but really she has no control over it. She fell from the horse numerous times but still she doesn’t give up.
Eventually when she’s in too much pain to try again, he still has this damn smug look on his face! But she then explains the reasons why she wants the horse so much – hoping with a good horse her dad can be safer on the battlefield. I guess this was the spark that made Mo Jiang more curious about Mulan, and in the subsequent episodes he continues to be intrigued by her…
Apart from the OTP, the main plot is what I’m the most surprised in. Dylan’s role has been fairly minimal so far but what has kept me watching is the tight storyline. There hasn’t been any draggy moments yet (I’m up to ep 5 right now). Maybe I’ve been watching too many weekly dramas it’s like I’ve finally rediscovered that feeling of wanting to ‘chase’ each new episode. The anticipation! Since this will be 48 episodes (!!!!! this is a lot more than I expected) I just hope each episode will be as good as the first few.
Many of the early episodes concentrate on the embroidery / weaving aspect I wonder when Mulan will actually get to war. The writers have gone out on a limb here placing so much emphasis on this ‘marriage truce embroidery’. The Hua Mulan in this drama has a very feminie side to her, with delicate hands weaving beautiful creations. It’s definitely a contrast from the tough and warrior-like image. If done the right way though, I think these early episodes on the short truce between the two warring nations provides a more solid backdrop when war does breakout. It’s sad though, even after all the hard work we all know peace is not going to last. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the story of Mulan becoming a soldier in place of her father.