Mulan “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (1998)

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Mulan “I’ll Make a Man out of You” (1998)

Disguising yourself as a man and then running off in the middle of the night to take your father’s place in the Imperial Army is all well and good, but unfortunately Mulan really hadn’t thought out what to do after that. Despite looking like a man, she has no idea how to act like one, and is therefore skulking in the woods outside camp, unsure of how to get inside without being found out as a girl. Enter Mushu!

No sooner was Mulan gone than her ancestors held a little conference to decide what to do with her. All agreed that Mulan had to be forced to come back, lest catastrophic damage be done to the family name. Mushu (Eddie Murphy), a small red dragon, offered to go, but seeing as the last time he tried to help that person lost their head, he is soundly rejected. Instead, Mushu is ordered to wake The Great Stone Dragon and have HIM bring Mulan back. After convincing the Great Ancestor Spirit that the Great Stone Dragon is on the way, he heads off himself to instead make Mulan a big war hero and thereby put himself back in the good graces of Mulan’s ancestors.

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Which brings us back to where Mulan is hiding outside camp and Mushu puts his plan into action. Convincing Mulan that he was indeed sent by her ancestors to help her, the pair make their way into camp. Due to a series of errors, Mulan causes a huge brawl in camp, and she also falls afoul of two guys named Yao and Ling (a third guy, Chien-Po, is friendly to everybody). The fight is broken up by the camp commander, Captain Li Shang (son of General Li, the head of the imperial army), who demands to know who Mulan is. Introducing herself as Ping, the training begins with a lesson. Shang shoots an arrow into the top of a tall pole, and challenges Yao to climb up and get it. But there’s a catch: he has to do it using two heavy weights. Yao makes it halfway up, but the weights pull him back down, and one by one everyone fails in the task. This failure prompts the training song “I’ll Make a Man out of You” which follows Mulan in her attempts to train for war.

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Let’s get down to business to defeat the Huns
Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?
You’re the saddest bunch
I ever met
But you can bet before we’re through
Mister, I’ll make a man out of you

Tranquil as a forest
But on fire within
Once you find your center
You are sure to win
You’re a spineless, pale pathetic lot
And you haven’t got a clue
Somehow I’ll make a man out of you

To say that her training goes badly at first is a massive understatement. In fact, no one is doing well in the beginning. Various skills are shown: shooting arrows through tomatoes before they hit the ground, deflecting rocks with a staff while balancing a bucket of water, launching primitive rockets at a target, hand to hand combat, etc. Finally, after Mulan falls behind in an endurance walk, Shang brings Mulan her horse and tells her to go home, she’ll never be a soldier. At this point, Mulan could go home, but having come this far, she’s not ready to give up.

I’m never gonna catch my breath
Say goodbye to those who knew me
Boy, was I fool in school for cutting gym
[spoken] This guy’s got ’em scared to death
Hope he doesn’t see right through me
Now I really wish that I knew how to swim

(Be a man)
We must be swift as the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

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Time is racing toward us
Till the Huns arrive
Heed my every order
And you might survive
You’re unsuited for the rage of war
So pack up, go home
You’re through
How could I make a man out of you?

(Be a man)
We must be swift as the coursing river
(Be a man)
Shang: With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

She sees the arrow at the top and makes another try for it, and then it hits her: everyone has been letting the weights hang at their sides, but if one ties the weights TOGETHER, you can use them to pull you up to the top. Doing this, Mulan sends the arrow down to Shang at sunrise, and is allowed to stay. Not only do Mulan’s fighting skills improve , she is now accepted as “one of the guys” and is quickly becoming an accomplished warrior.

 

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I really like this song: Shang’s singing voice is performed by Donny Osmond and it’s really awesome to watch the training montages as everyone progresses from clumsy to skilled. Next time: Everyone is thinking of “A Girl Worth Fighting For.”

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See also:

Mulan “Honor to Us All” (1998)

Mulan “Reflection” (1998)

Mulan “Mulan’s Decision” (1998)

Mulan “A Girl Worth Fighting For” (1998)

Mulan “The Huns Attack” (1998)

Mulan “I’ve Heard a Great Deal About You Fa Mulan…” (1998)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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9 thoughts on “Mulan “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (1998)

  1. Pingback: Mulan “A Girl Worth Fighting For” (1998) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Mulan “The Huns Attack” (1998) | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Mulan “I’ve Heard a Great Deal About You Fa Mulan…” (1998) | Film Music Central

  4. Pingback: My Disney Mix Tap (Featuring Film Music Central) | Drew's Movie Reviews

  5. Pingback: Mulan “Mulan’s Decision” (1998) | Film Music Central

  6. Pingback: Mulan “Honor to Us All” (1998) | Film Music Central

  7. Pingback: Mulan “Reflection” (1998) | Film Music Central

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