Disney’s 36th animated feature film, Mulan might not be one of the greatest, but it’s pretty darn good. The best thing it has going for it is that it provides one of the strongest female roles that Disney has ever offered up.
Telling a story of honor and tradition versus following your heart, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) pretends to be a boy and joins the army so that her ailing father doesn’t have to. It’s not going to be easy pulling one over an the whole army and General Shang (B.D. Wong) so it’s a good thing she’s got a little help in the form of her trusty horse, a lucky cricket and Mushu (Eddie Murphy) a dragon who is mostly looking out for his own best interests.
Mulan manages to endear herself to Shang and his army of new recuits, forming a friendship with three in particular, Yao, Ling and Chien-Po (Harvey Fierstein, Gedde Watanabe and Jerry Tondo). When they go into battle against Shn Yu (Miguel Ferrer) leader of the Huns, it is Mulan’s ingenuity that helps them win the day, however when her true identity is exposed, will Shang and the others trust her well enough to finally save China?
Mulan is a fun, action adventure with some memorable characters and good messages about following your heart and doing what is right, even if it goes against what everyone else things is right. Mulan is a strong thinking woman who should be a role model for any young impressionable girl. It’s certainl better that Ariel who is willing to lose her voice and identity to win over a man. Mulan is out there risking her life to honor her family and just happens to fall in love along the way.
Eddie Murphy is pretty funny as Mushu. He’s pretty much doing his Shrek Donkey schtick, just a couple years earlier. He doesn’t pretend to sound Asian as the other characters do and are, but he brings enough needed humor to the story and character that make it forgivable. All-in-all, Mulan is a very strong late 90’s Disney film.
Then we have the direct to video sequel, Mulan II, which was released in 2004. It’s not as terrible as most DTV sequels, but it pales in comparison to the original. The two good things it has going for it is it’s strong continuation of the main themes from the first, as well as Mark Moseley who apparently does the best Eddie Murphy impersonation ever, because his Mushu is practically indistinguishable from Eddie’s.
In part two, Mulan and Shang, who are now engaged, must escort the Emperors three daughters to a neighboring kingdom for an arranged marriage. Mulan, of course, does not sit well with this while Shang does just as he’s told. Along the way the three daughters fall in love with Yao, Ling and Chien-Po and again the theme of duty versus heart is raised. To complicate things more Mushu is trying to break up Mulan and Shang because as soon as they get married, he looses his guardianship title and goes back to being a lowly gong dragon.
Mulan II has a few entertaining moments in it and the animations is almost as good as the feature film, however it just doesn’t stand up to Mulan which is such a great film not just for young girls, but for anyone who enjoys a good story.
This film is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both films look and sound fantastic here in this Blu-ray presentation.
You get all the same special features that were present on previous DVD releases. There is nothing new. Those features include: Deleted scenes for both films, backstage featurettes and music videos. Mulan has audio commentary and some other stuff as well.
It’s been a while since I watched Mulan and it was just as good as I remembered it. This was my first time watching Mulan II and while I didn’t hate it, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. By below score does not account for the sequel as I feel Mulan is a good enough film not to have it’s score tarnished by the inclusion of II. I would give II… well… as 2.
Disney presents Mulan. Directed by: Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. Starring: Eddie Nyrphy, Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong and Miguel Ferrer. Running time: 88 minutes. Rating: G. Mulan II. Directed by: Darrell Rooney and Lynne Southerland. Starring: Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong and Mark Moseley. Running time: 79 minutes. Rating: G. Released: March 12, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Eddie Murphy