Shan Yu is the main antagonist of the 1998 Disney animated film Mulan. As leader of the Hun Army, he is a merciless and vicious warlord who seeks to conquer the Chinese Empire. He was voiced by the late Miguel Ferrer.
The film's opening scene sees Shan Yu scaling the Great Wall of China and leading the Huns in an invasion of China, setting the tone for the rest of the film. When one of the Chinese guards of the Great Wall revealed that he lit the torches and that the Emperor will soon know of Shan Yu's presence in an attempt to intimidate him, Shan Yu's only response was to burn one of the Imperial flags before giving a satisfied "perfect," revealing that the Emperor receiving the message of Shan Yu and the Huns' invasion was precisely what he had intended to accomplish.
Later on Shan Yu and his men destroy yet another village and proceed to expose two spies sent by the Emperor. One of them insist the Emperor will stop Shan Yu, only to be rebuffed. He orders them to pass a message to the Emperor telling to send his best men for battle. Before the two are able to leave, he has his guard murder one via bow and arrow.
While heading to the Imperial city, his falcon recovers a little girl's doll from a village. On the doll is pine dust from the mountains, white horse hair from the General's army, and the smell of sulfur from cannons. Instead of avoiding the army, he and his men plan to go that direction. His armies crush the Emperor's soldiers with ease until they get to a mountain pass where they are cut off by Captain Li Shang's troops. In an act of fierce barbarity, he and his troops also take the opportunity to raze the village from which the girl's doll came, after Shan Yu mockingly suggests they return it to the child, killing the girl and apparently leaving no survivors.
Soon after, the armies battle by constantly shooting cannons after Mushu accidentally fired a cannon causing Li Shang's troops' position given away to him and his army. Eventually Shan Yu leads the Huns down to the army to attack. Though the Huns vastly outnumber Shang's troops, Mulan manages to bury them in an avalanche by aiming a rocket at a nearby mountain. Shan Yu then slashes her, which eventually causes her identity to be revealed. Shan Yu nearly escapes but, like his men, he is taken away by the snow. Despite this, he survives, alongside five other Huns. Upon unearthing himself from the snow pile, Shan Yu learns that his army has been destroyed and lets out a loud warcry, thus exposing his survival to Mulan (who was left behind by the rest of the army at Shang's orders after refusing to strike her dead). Just then, four Huns break out from the snow as well, and Shan Yu quickly decides that his four Generals will be enough to capture the Emperor as long as they use stealth. Mulan chooses to follow them to China.
Believed to be dead and defeated, Shan Yu and a group of surviving Huns are able to infiltrate the Emperor's palace and capture him during the victory ceremony.
Mulan, Shang, Yao, Ling and Chien Po scale the palace wall and quickly overcome the Hun guards. Meanwhile, Shan Yu tries, but fails, to coerce the Emperor into kneeling before him. Just as Shan Yu moves to strike the Emperor down, Shang attacks him and Chien-Po carries the Emperor to safety. Just as the Emperor escapes, Shan Yu overpowers Shang and soon recognizes Mulan as the soldier who caused the avalanche. Mulan lures him to the palace rooftop, where he attempts to kill her with her own sword, slashing at her and cutting down structures with reckless abandon. Finally, after retaking her sword, Mulan knocks him over and ties his shirt to the roof. Then Mushu aims a New Year's firecracker at Shan Yu, which propels him into a tower full of New Year's Day fireworks, and Shan Yu is killed in the explosion.