Hua Mu Lan 木蘭從軍 (1939)

The film:

Cantonese actress Nancy Chan (Chen Yunshang) stars as Mulan in this live-action film made in Shanghai during the third year of China’s war against Japan. A young woman takes her father’s place in the army and, over several years, rises through the ranks to fight off invaders near the Great Wall and save the Tang dynasty. A box office hit in “orphan island” Shanghai, occupied Nanking, and colonial Singapore, the film was literally burned in the streets of Chungking (Chongqing) by agitators who considered the filmmakers to be traitors–notwithstanding the film’s allegory of resistance against invaders. The commercial success of this film helped to usher in the age of the wartime costume drama. 
Mulan congjun
Original English title: Hua Mu Lan
Alternative English titles: Mulan Joins the Army, Maiden in Armor
Directed by Richard Poh (Bu Wancang)
Screenplay by E.C. Ouyang (Ouyang Yuqian)
Studio: Huacheng
Date of release: February 19, 1939
Cast: Cheng Yun Shang (Chen Yunshang), Mai Hsi (Mei Xi), L.K. Han (Han Langen), C.C. Liu (Liu Jiqun), C.Z. Chong (Zhang Zhizhi), S.C. Ying (Yin Xiucen), Tang Jie, N.S. Wong (Huang Naishuang), Hong Jingling
English subtitles translated by Christopher Rea

Learn more:

For more on Mulan, see this book by two Harvard scholars: Mulan: Five Versions of a Classical Chinese Legend, with Related Texts