Mulan (1998) Poster

(1998)

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Why Mulan sticks out as a great Disney film.
Skeletors_Hood29 October 2004
I was impressed by this Disney film for so many reasons, too many to list here, but I will go on the record as saying that Mulan has got to be one of the best Disney female characters that ever saw production, in the midst of a colorful and artistic film, that will resonate in your memory.

Mulan sticks out in my mind for this reason. For once, we have a strong female lead, or at the least, stronger than most of them. She isn't counted among the Disney "princesses" line-up. She doesn't want for herself, and she seeks to look deeper within herself to discover her inner being. She isn't like Ariel, who wants to be someone else. She isn't like Jasmine, who sits in luxury, waiting to be swept off her feet by Prince Charming, just like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and almost any female character that Disney brings to life. And while she does share some traits among this list, she stands out because she does something that these do not. She uses her mind.

Mulan, in fact, has more in common with male Disney leads than the female Disney leads. Mulan is a thinker, and a do-er. She's resourceful, like Aladdin. She is quick to act, like Eric (mermaid.) And she sacrifices herself for the sake of others, like Hercules. She also speaks her mind, even in a culture that does not allow such a thing. She doesn't waste time pining about "will I ever find true love?" Indeed, we see that she has an attraction to Shang (as he was her husband in the legends,) but we see her uncomfortable and unsure of meeting the Match-maker. She begs for her father's life when Chi-Fu came to the village. When you see her make her decision to take her father's place in the army, she does so out of her love for him, valuing his life above hers. She doesn't wish to become a man to see what it is like or for a change. Only to save his life. She later doubts herself and her reasons for going, but she did so because of her inner strengths, something other female Disney leads too often lack. (And it is these strengths that Shang is attracted to at the end.)

This movie also has a simple, but very effective villain, Shan Yu. Though not as memorable as Jafar or Ursula, he is more effective and more menacing because he is not fantastic. By that, I mean that he is not magical, he holds no special power. He is portrayed as a man, and as a man that could have truly existed, performing vicious acts that men do. We see the destruction that his army lays to a village, and when Mulan finds the doll, it shows that Shan Yu left no one living, man, woman or child. This is what makes him so effective as a villain, showing how truly human he indeed is. Granted, the producers did not develop him in any great depth, but they showed enough of him to remind us of his threat to China. Besides, sometimes the better villains are the ones you don't know too much about, or see a lot of.

Of the rest of the supporting cast, I will only mention four of them as being memorable in any real way. Chi-Fu, the emperor's consultant, was a reminder of the way many men looked at women in this culture. He thrusts his head up when Mulan begs for her father's life, and when she is discovered to be a woman, though she is a hero, he is quick to insult her, and to order her execution, simply because she impersonated a man. The other three were, of course, her comrades, Ling, Yao, and Chian Po. Though they were mainly comic relief (almost like a 3 stooges set,) they remained loyal to Mulan and trusted her fully, even after she was discovered. I like them, because they were not discriminatory to her in any way, even trying to stop her execution. When Mulan told them she had an idea to help the emperor faster, they were the first to her side, even when Shang was still reluctant to do so.

Overall, a wonderful movie to the Disney list. If you haven't seen it, then do so, you won't regret it.

And yes, Mushu was a cool character as well.

**** In Response to an earlier post by Phoenix-1 **** To expect any movie to accurately portray history in any way is lunacy. Even those movies that come close to historical accuracy are flawed in many ways. This was a way of telling a story, as any movie is. It can be argued that it tries to provoke curiosity in another culture, but it is also meant to entertain. I would also like to point out that Mulan is really not "historical," like Joan of Arc, but rather she is a legend, much like Hercules and Aladdin, who also come from the realm of myth, stories and legends. And while there is some difference between the original legend and this movie, your examples of how Disney would butcher tales of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln do not compare to this story in any way. Your arguments for comparison should be better applied to Pocahontas, as she was an actual historical figure.
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8/10
Disney comes through with yet another animated masterpiece, and this one goes by the name Mulan.
chrisbrown645317 June 2002
Mulan is a young girl in ancient China. When the Huns start attacking the country, the Emperor orders one member of every family to join the Chinese Army and defend the country. The one member must be a man, but in Mulan's family, the only male is her injured father. Not wanting to allow her father to die, Mulan dresses like a man, and escapes into the night to join the war. To protect her, the ancient elders of her family ask the great Stone Dragon to watch over her. Unfortunately, the great Stone Dragon is destroyed by the little tiny dragon Mushu (Eddie Murphy). So with Mushu and a small cricket by her side, Mulan heads off to help destroy the Huns.

I think we can all guess what happens. Mulan, although a woman, manages to save the day. The plot line isn't really a surprise when you break it down. And the animation is, by now, expected to be great, and Mulan certainly lives up to the great Disney tradition. It's the story and the feeling you get that makes this movie so wonderful. Disney went through a lot to make sure it's depiction of ancient China was accurate. From the decorations on the walls, to the matchmakers, to the great honor in family, Disney manages to show what the country of China was like, and in many ways, still is today. Following the Disney tradition, there is a strong female character, this time taking lead. There are the over the top bad guys, and of course, the comic relief. Eddie Murphy was just down right hilarious in this movie. I wish they had showed more of him. The songs were sort of a change of pace, with Matthew Wilder and Jerry Goldsmith doing the honors, and not the venerable Alan Menken. The music was good, but the lyrics in some of the songs were weak.

The reason I feel Mulan was better than recent Disney fare like Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame is because it had a much more lively feel to it. Hercules was very dark, animation-wise. Everything was centered on the color blue, so it didn't feel alive. And The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a more adult story, and some of the scenes were very dark and broody. Mulan took a simple plot, put it in ancient China, and made it very colorful and fun to watch. It was light, and "Disney" enough for kids to enjoy, while still being adult enough for the parents to enjoy.

Overall, I'd say Mulan is definitely one to watch. Disney animation has done it again.
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8/10
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
Jessica Carvalho21 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
One of the reasons why I like Mulan so much, is because she is independent and braver than many of the female characters from Disney, who looks always to be searching for a man to be the reason for them to live or to be happy. Mulan is lovely, but also a tomboy what always gives her problems. Since the story takes place in a China of more than 1.000 years ago, women from that time, more than in the present days, needed to have an outstanding behavior all the time and with everybody.Being the only kid her parents had in a time where women didn't have many rights,Mulan is pressed to marry with a good catch. One day, she is going to see the matchmaker but everything goes wrong,since she is clumsy and not very graceful. Being accused that she '' will never bring honor to her family'', Mulan stays sad and depressed, and so stays her parents. But the chance to change that awful prophecy comes quick when the Emperor's men started to call one man from every family to serve in the Imperial Army: since Mulan's father was no longer young and healthy, Mulan reported to the army with a new name and looks. But she needed to make this a secret, because it was against the Chinese laws to a woman be a soldier, so, with the help of the dragon of the family called Mushu,one of the coolest adventures from Disney's starts.
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10/10
The growth of the typical Disney heroine
Emma973 December 1998
There are two things I love about this movie, aside from its stunning and beautiful animation. One is that I love the fact that Disney is exploring legends from other cultures and I am so glad it brought us this one. The other is that I just wanted to stand up and cheer at this great heroine. I am a huge fan of Disney movies, but most of the heroines, while spunky, are still just your basic damsel in distress. I loved Mulan's character. She was strong, she was powerful, she could do anything she wanted, and she overcame much diversity. I was thrilled to see the portrayal of a strong female character surviving because of her own integrity and strength rather than because of her looks. Bravo, Disney, for bringing us this wonderfully progressive Chinese tale.
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8/10
More Disney Magic -- Historically Accurate Legend
mdm-111 June 2005
There are too few "girl" heroes in stories. According to Chinese legend, Mulan, the only child of an aging soldier, disguised herself as a male to take her sickly father's place fighting evil invaders. While in the disguise of a loyal soldier to the emperor, Mulan falls in love with her commander, who does not suspect the deception. When Mulan saves the entire fighting forces, what she managed to hide up to that point is discovered: She is a girl masquerading as a man. Rather than punish Mulan with death, the commander sends her away (presumably to die). In the end Mulan is honored with a medal for bravery by the Emperor himself. Although "only" a female, she had saved the entire empire from certain doom.

The finest moment is the scene where her father says "I am proud to call you daughter". Legend or history, this is a fine example of telling a story centering around a girl, rather than the countless tales celebrating boys as heroes. Like so many other recent animated Disney features, this is yet another gem in the treasure chest of Walt Disney Studios.
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9/10
I really liked this Disney flick that seemed to slip between the cracks
MartinHafer10 June 2007
In the 1990s, I felt that Disney made quite a few undistinguished cartoons following Aladdin. Unlike most of the world, I wasn't all that enamored with THE LION KING and subsequent offerings such as the wretched HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and POCAHONTAS were huge disappointments. Sure, POCAHONTAS is a lovely film to watch, but it's so wrong historically and it's so politically correct and hokey. And as for HUNCHBACK, the story was so dark and unappealing, I have no idea WHO the intended audience was. So it was in this context that I expected to hate or at least be underwhelmed by MULAN. Instead, it seemed fresh, well-made, humorous and fun--something distinctly missing from these other films. While the anachronistic aspect of having a lady warrior is problematic, for once Disney had another strong and likable female lead following Belle in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. This was a definite home-run for Disney and well worth your time whether you are a child or an adult.
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8/10
Another great Disney
rbverhoef19 May 2003
I can't think of a single animated feature film done by Disney that I don't like. For some reason they never bore me and they never feel the same. The classics like 'Snow White' and 'Cinderella' are great but I think I like the newer ones ('The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'The Lion King') even more. 'Mulan' definitely belongs to the best ones.

Mulan is a girl who doesn't do much right. For the honor of her family she joins the army instead of her father. She takes his gear and runs off. She pretends to be a man and does the training to go to war against the Huns who invaded China.

With some nice new songs, great music by Jerry Goldsmith and beautiful animations this is a real Disney. A little dragon called Mushu is helping her on the way. He is send by the ancestors. The voice of Mushu is from Eddie Murphy and he does a very great job. With a quick and good story and a lot of funny moments this is a great movie.
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9/10
Great Movie for little girls
lichan-18 January 2006
I have a 4.5 year old daughter who is going through the princess phase. We read lots of fairy tales etc and its very difficult to find a fairy tale where the princess is strong and resourceful. Most of the time they are pretty passive and the worst one is sleeping beauty. I find myself treading a fine line between letting her enjoy the fairy tale and occasionally commenting on the fact that perhaps some of these princesses just don't do enough to help themselves and how they can help themselves a little bit more. I don't want to destroy her pleasure in these fairy tales, after all, I loved them too. But it took me a while as adult to see how the subconscious message of helplessness in these fairy tales can reinforce the existing values of society and parents that girls are meant to be saved.

So it is a great pleasure to be able to show my daughter a story of a strong and intelligent girl - Mu Lan and its great that Mu Lan and we are both ethnically Chinese. Here is a heroine who is resourceful, uses her brains, saves the Captain and China. We draw many discussion points from the story, such as why it is that women were not allowed to join the army, the value of trying hard and training and practising hard, what is discipline and why it is needed to succeed, using your brains and thinking of how to solve a problem, not just using brute strength, etc. Even some politics - like why did the Hun king want the Emperor to bow to him and why the Emperor wouldn't bow to him but would bow to Mulan. My challenge is the explain things in a way which is both accurate and yet understandable to a 4 year old. My daughter loves the story because Mulan does a lot of "saving".

My daughter has probably watch the movie only 3 times coz I limit TV and video a lot. But she'll ask me to tell her the story in my own words, based on the video. It works out great.

The fact that the movie Mulan captivates me as an adult also helps. There's only so much I can enjoy of a barney video.

I definitely recommend this movie to parents with young girls, as a good place to start talking about being a strong and intelligent woman. Another good one is Beauty and the Beast. I've not seen Pocahontas so I can't comment on that.
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Excellent, if a little different
King_Opossum31 March 2000
Now I must admit I wasn't sure about this one. MULAN seemed to break most of my preconceived rules on Disney movies. These included the fairytale element - a cross-dressing Chinese soldier doesn't have the same magical appeal as, say, the son of the Greek gods searching for his birthright, etc etc. Also, this verge towards realism meant that the bad guy would not be as appealing - Disney villains are camp, over-the-top thespians by rule - Jeremy Irons in THE LION KING for example. I was concerned about the absence of king-of-melody composer Alan Menken, whose wonderful songs encapsulate the charm of Disney.

However, that said, I thought this film was wonderful. The characters were well thought out and expertly drawn. Not enough songs were present for my liking, but those that were fit perfectly with the story, and the chance to hear the wonderful voice of Lea Salonga (Mulan's songs) is worth the price of this film alone. Eddie Murphy has managed to be as good, if not better, than Robin Williams as the comic sidekick. And the film's conclusion is as genuine and as heartfelt as any adaptation of this story. The mountain scene contains some of the best animation I have seen from Disney, and the rousing score from maestro Jerry Goldsmith accompanies the action superbly.

This may not turn out to be a classic in the same way as THE LION KING and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, but I enjoyed it immensely. Go see it now!!!
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7/10
Delightful Animated Girl Hero who Breaks with Disney Traditions
noralee8 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Mulan" is not quite a chick flick and it's much better than "Pochantas."

It has terrific animation and I forgot I was even watching animation. The script has some funny lines.

The music is not great (the writers didn't ring any bells with me as to their past work) but good lyrics. I was disappointed that the music wasn't as Asianish as "Lion King" is Africanish. And the final rap is a bit off-putting, though the segue into the Stevie Wonder song was fun.

Eddie Murray isn't Robin Williams but he's fun. At least they do use quite a few Asian actors' voices - Wing Na Wen ("E.R."), George Takei ("Star Trek"), B.D. Wong ("Oz") Pat Morita ("Karate Kid").

I think "Mulan" is the first Disney animation post-Katzenberg and there's a couple of digs at him and responses to the criticisms of how he did the girl stars. There was a lot of criticism of how Katzenberg personally insisted on Jasmine in "Aladdin"s impossible Barbie shape and "Mulan" takes that on with a line about how stupid it is to want such a narrow waist. Definitely a much more positive body image movie than under the Katzenberg regime.

There's no dead mother syndrome here, well for Mulan anyway. The Captain's mother isn't mentioned. Not only is there a mom, but even a grandmom. The father is still Freudian - he's wounded. All the Disney dads of daughters have some incapacity or other or tragic flaw.

Refreshingly, there's no wedding at the end with birds chirping as a canopy. The courting is assumed and the grandmom invites the captain to live there forever--but Mulan shuts her up.

(originally written 7/23/1998)
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