- “I will die doing what's right!”
- ―Fa Zhou
Fa Zhou is a character from the 1998 Disney animated feature film, Mulan. He is a retired war hero and the father of Fa Mulan. When an emergency calls for the lame Fa Zhou to return to battle, Mulan secretly takes his place under the guise of a man.
Fa Zhou is the father of Mulan. His other known family members include Fa Li (his wife) and Grandmother Fa (his mother). He was a war hero of a previous, unnamed conflict, as well as was known to the extent that Shang mentioned his name with awe when it appeared on Fa family's conscription notice, even referring to him as "the Fa Zhou". At the time of the film, he is at least middle-aged, as well as limps using a crutch due to a leg injury sustained from that war. He is shown as being fairly traditional, putting family honor before many other things, including his own health, which strains his relationship with Mulan at first. Despite this, he is shown to be understanding, as he comforts Mulan after her failed meeting with the Matchmaker by comparing her beauty to a late blossom on the family's trees. After that, however, he says to Mulan that she "dishonored" him when she was trying to help him.
Fa Zhou is first seen praying that his ancestors will aid his daughter Fa Mulan during her trip to see the Matchmaker. After praying he bumps into Mulan, who is carrying a teapot and cup on a tray causing her to drop them but he catches the teapot using his crutch and she brings out a spare teacup telling what the doctor told him: he needs three cups of tea in the morning and three at night. Fa Zhou then tells Mulan that she should be in town and wishes her good luck. When Mulan fails, he is saddened but comforts her while sitting underneath a cherry blossom tree, by drawing a comparison between Mulan and a late bloom on the tree.
When Chi Fu, the Emperor's consul, arrives to distribute conscription notices, Fa Zhou, as the only man in the family, puts aside his crutch and walks to accept the scroll. Out of stubborn pride, he doesn't take up the crutch again and attempts to practice with his old sword in preparation for war. However, it quickly becomes apparent that he will die if he goes, due to his age and injuries in the past. Having seen him practice, Mulan argues with him, stating it is unfair that he has to die for honor. Fa Zhou angrily yells at her that Mulan needs to learn her place, as he has learned his. Mulan then runs off in tears, but Fa Zhou ignores her and sits down to continue eating. Later that night, before going to bed, he is seen talking with his wife in silhouette trying to comfort her and she too runs off in tears, knowing he will not survive the war.
After Mulan steals both the conscription notice and his armor to join the army in his place, Fa Zhou attempts to call to her, but he collapses as he runs. Fa Li asks him to go after Mulan, fearing that she could be killed in the war. He sadly notes that if Mulan is revealed as a woman, she would be killed, as Chinese law states that women are forbidden to serve in the army.
Fa Zhou does not appear again until the end of the film. He is seen sitting under the cherry blossom tree when Mulan returns home after the war. Mulan presents him with Shan Yu's sword and the Emperor's crest as gifts to honor the family. Fa Zhou sets the gifts aside before hugging Mulan, proclaiming that his 'greatest gift and honor' is having her for a daughter. He speaks briefly with Li Shang, who has arrived to see Mulan under the guise of returning a helmet that belongs to Fa Zhou (which Mulan had left behind earlier). With Fa Zhou's approval, Mulan invites Shang to dinner.
Fa Zhou reappears in this film, but plays a minor role. When Mulan and Shang are called to perform a task for the Emperor, he advises them that they must work together like sun and rain. Although he usually doesn't gamble, he makes a bet with Grandmother Fa, which he wins: Grandmother Fa bet that Shang would propose to Mulan before sunset, while Fa Zhou bet that he would propose before noon. His wife remarks on how he did not gamble, to which he replies that he considers gambling with his mother to be an investment rather than gambling.
- Though he does not appear physically, Fa Zhou is mentioned more than once by Mulan in Kingdom Hearts II.