Having just caught it not too long ago, the memories of it is still fresh in my mind. I remembered as the lights to the cinemas brightened as the credits start to roll, it felt breathtaking to had partake in this film as an audience of it.
Do NOT, and i repeat, do NOT, go into this film wanting it to be one of those battle-like army type of films one generally associates with the genre of epic at its core. For if you do, you will be disappointed for this is NOT one of those films that had been over-populated due to other greats like Braveheart, Gladiator etc. Those are epic genre all to their own merits...
...and so is this depiction of the legend of Hua Mulan. I would still classify it as an Epic to some degree, but leaning it more towards the genre of Drama and Romance, more akin to the likes of Tau Ming Chong (aka. Warlords that was released in 2007 starring Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro).
There are battlefield scenes, Yes...but they are of minimal depiction based on the context of this film, that are used to carry the characterization of Hua Mulan that was perfectly casted with Vicki Zhao at the helm.
There is a plot, and that plot is to drive the main theme of this film that is to showcase to us about how she grew into the character in legends. Whereas the subplot to it is that of her feelings. These feelings are then broken down into different categories, showcasing the main obvious emotional parts of her for the affection that she has for another. While concepts based on being a filial daughter to her father, and loyalty to the fellow troops that she commands and finally patriotism that drives her to do what she does for twelve years are all being explored, minimally but it is enough to drive her overall characterization in just under 2 hours (even though it may seemed longer than that).
Having said this, there is no need for me to summarize the film for you readers as that is one of the beauties of storytelling, where it is for the viewers to partake for themselves to let the story be told to you by the story's presentation. And definitely not by me.
Overall, if one is into a movie that is emotional (depending on individual's views upon what is regarded as emotional), and does not showcase violence for violence's sake, then i guess one can do themselves the favor of partaking on this trip of 2 hours into another era.
Again i must stress, do NOT go into this film hoping to see the likes of battlefield scenes.
For me, i would classify this film like the other greats of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The House of Flying Daggers; Warlords; Musa, and the very recent Red Cliff saga. Jingle Ma's depiction of Mulan has merits all to its own to make it stand among these others.