The flower that blooms in adversity: Mulan revisited


Directors: Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook
Screenplay: Rita Hsiao, Philip LaZebnik, Chris Sanders, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer, and Raymond Singer
Story: Robert D. San Souci
Featuring the Voices of: Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein, Beth Fowler, George Takei, and Pat Morita

If you are in search for ladies in ball gowns and romantic adventures, imperial China is definitely not the place to be. However, aside from the innate uniqueness of this great civilization, we find a powerful narrative that provides redefinitions of strength, capability, and womanhood beyond established norms and conventions. And because MNL Film Club celebrates the fiercest females on the big screen, this kickass character is a definite inclusion – she’s so kickass that she defeated a troop of a thousand horsemen single-handedly. She is Mulan.


Mulan (1998) is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a young woman (presented in the film as the fictional Fa Mulan) who impersonated a male soldier to save her elderly father from a military conscription following an attack on China by invading Huns. Running away from home, Mulan embarks on a journey where she eventually defeated the Huns, saved the empire, and more importantly, found her true strength and purpose.



Kickassery Beyond Kung Fu: A Feminist Retrospective on Kill Bill


This March, it’s all about girls girls girls, as MNL Film Club celebrates films with femme fatales, and not just of the noir variety. They are sassy and smart, and they will punch you in the face it will feel awesome. Above all, they’re females who laugh and cry, who may be vindictive, or insecure or shy, sword-wielding and ass-kicking or just downright crazy: they’re realistic portrayals of women in an art form where women are fetishized and highly objectified.

We’re kicking it off with Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2, Quentin Tarantino’s sensational hits in 2003 and 2004, and which forever immortalized Uma Thurman in Bruce Lee’s yellow track suit.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Sonny Chiba, Vivica A. Fox, Gordon Liu, Julie Dreyfus

This is not the first movie to feature gun-toting and sword-slashing women, and this is certainly not the last. The idea of an avenging woman on a righteous rampage of revenge, either after being raped or abused, has not only been perenially duplicated, but also oftenly criticized. Many movies fetishize the unstoppable female who slaughter her oppressors in skintight and revealing clothing while sexualizing the violence previously inflicted on these women. None of these are present in Kill Bill, however, and the rampage of revenge is all of the glorious and awesome kind.

Any movie by Tarrantino guarantees guts and gore, and these are overly abundant in Kill Bill, especially the first installment. The movie opens with Beatrix Kiddo, aka The Bride, on her most vulnerable: with her face puffed, cut, and bleeding, almost pleading for her life to be spared; on the next scene, we learn she was repeatedly raped while her body was in comatose for the last 4 years. Initially, all of these are cringeworthy facts to deal with, but her resolve to make the people responsible for her demise pay was a cathartic experience to Kiddo and the movie audience as well. In this regard, there is no sexism at all. Any fan of Tarantino would recognize that the quick justice in the form of bloodshed is characteristic in any of his movies, male or female villains alike. Each Deadly Viper is skilled in their chosen style, and almost each of them presents a good fight.