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During a time of war, a young girl's courage will be the savior of her father, her people and her entire country, all she has to do is make everyone believe she's a boy.
In an attempt to protect her aging father who has been called upon to aid China's army in their war against the merciless Huns, Mulan assumes the identity of a young boy and takes her father's place amongst the Chinese soldiers. While being trained for war, Mulan must overcome physical and mental obstacles that would make even the largest men weak and exhausted, all the while concealing her identity in fear of ridicule and severe punishment. Mulan's only help comes in the form of a very tiny, wisecracking dragon named Mushu, who is just as much of a hindrance as he is a help. Training is short-lived as the Huns swiftly ravage through China, leaving Mulan, a group of soldiers that could turn on her at any moment, and her clumsy companion as the country's last wall of defense.
A truly engaging film, Disney's Mulan features an expected perfect cast of voices, including ER's Ming Na Wen as the courageous title character, whose strength and spirit have the power to protect an entire nation. Ming Na's vocal transformation changes perfectly with her character, leading Mulan from naive, free spirited girl, to a battle-ready, headstrong young woman, with seemingly no effort at all, making her character very realistic and easy to root for. Comedic genius Eddie Murphy assumes the role of Mulan's dragon guardian Mushu. Murphy is a scene stealing machine in this film because every time he talks, the laughter he gets lasts so long you miss a good minute of the next character's dialogue. I also have to give Mr. Murphy full credit for keeping the laughs coming while not letting out a single cuss word. I'm sure it was torturous for him and I think he should know his effort was appreciated. One last actor to be mentioned is B.D. Wong, who appears vocally in this film as Captain Li Shang, a truly arrogant but effective soldier who serves in the army alongside Mulan. Wong did a commendable job letting his voice command just as much courage and arrogance as his character.
Directors Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft are fully responsible for putting another golden feather in Disney's cap. Mulan is made in a way that parents and children can both be entertained and learn a lesson at the same time. It is a family film that is actually made for the family. The film has great animation, and features what could be Disney's most truly menacing villains, the Huns, which is of course is a valuable asset because it makes the heroes actually heroic by opposing them; a good distinction to have when making a movie where one of its major story elements is the conflict between good and bad. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people in Hollywood don't seem to be picking up on it. Producer Pam Coats knows what elements are necessary to make a family classic and she shared them all in making Mulan. For the most part everything in this film is exactly as it should be. The characters are well defined, the story is interesting, although, of course, not original work. As well the score is absolutely breathtaking and I really find some of the songs featured to be truly some of the best ever heard in a Disney film. The writing team, including Rita Hsiao and Christopher Sanders, give this film everything from sharp dialogue to intelligent story, and that is exactly what they were hired for. I hope more people will look to hire this team in future endeavors.
Although not Disney's crowning achievement, this movie really is a fantastic slice of entertainment, and is certainly something that should be viewed by everyone. Woman and children will really enjoy this film so I will direct this final comment towards all my male readers out there: if you're at the video store this evening, and your family asks if they can get something everyone can enjoy, instead of you checking out another action flick with Stallone in it, I say put your own viewing pleasures aside, leave Rambo on the shelves, and you may actually find the company of Mulan more rewarding.
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Words just cannot express the beauty in this film. Mulan, our heroine,
is a sweet, yet awkward young woman who wishes to bring honor to her
After a meeting with the matchmaker goes horribly awry, Mulan is left ashamed and distraught. She wishes so badly to please and bring honor to her family, yet her spunky, outspoken attitude makes this a struggle for her in a culture where women are expected to be quiet and subservient. But despite her failure, her family still loves her.
That very day, the Emperor's consul comes with a declaration: one man from every family is to serve in the Emperor's army in the war against the Huns. Mulan, knowing that her father will certainly be killed if he goes to war, disguises herself as a man and goes to war in his place. The sentiment and unconditional love portrayed in this movie makes it a very beautiful story.
The movie also pokes some good-natured fun at males in general, but never to a ridiculous degree. The one reference to a modern media (Batman) is subtle enough that it doesn't spoil the atmosphere. Mushu sometimes feels a little overdone, but isn't too bad overall. There's enough comic relief in the movie to keep it fun.
Another thing going for this film is that the dilemmas faced by the characters are very, very serious. The villain isn't just set out to conquer; he's set out to slaughter. This is made very clear to the audience - and although it was kept toned down, it wasn't completely sugarcoated, either.
Also, I feel that Mulan is a much better role-model for girls than certain other animated characters. The love and respect that she shows for her family (especially for her father) is a breath of fresh air compared to many other animated female leads.
The depth of talent at Disney is frightening. It's interesting the
character animation here with that in "The Prince of Egypt" - no contest
all. Every character in "Mulan" is well, brilliantly, perfectly animated,
and many great animators at Disney didn't even touch the project. A
here who said that the animation "lacks detail" merely betrays his (her?)
ignorance. One must distinguish between character design and animation:
former is what a still drawing of a character displays, the latter is the
art of moving a character around. The animation was full of detail. I
that every one of the 24-per-second frames conveyed something of value.
character design, on the other hand, *was* deliberately simplified, but I
don't see how anyone could deny that this approach was both beautiful and
fitting; and since everything (backgrounds and effects animation) had the
same stylistic simplicity, the characters were more solidly in place than
they usually are in animation.
(The effects animation was creative and also streets ahead of "The Prince of Egypt". As was the use of computers. Watch the Great Wall scene closely: you might be able to *deduce* that computers were involved, but you certainly won't feel that they were. Computer imagery has been misused with ghastly results in everything from "Aladdin" to "The Phantom Menace". Finally someone has it right.)
I won't comment on the story - I'm still moved by it, but then I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. I'll get to my one complaint. It's not the music. Yes, the music was ultra-1980s with the odd pentatonic scale; but that's not intrinsically worse than being ultra-1990s with the odd pentatonic scale, and it has the advantage that we know immediately the worst about how dated it will sound (less dated than you'd expect). No: my problem is Eddie Murphy. He is painfully unfunny and his introduction made me sigh wearily. He doesn't belong here. I don't have anything against comic relief, but Disney should have trusted their animators to provide it. When Mushu is funny, it's the animators' doing - and on those occasions the humour is not at odds with the story.
That one criticism pains me to make. Swallowing "Mulan" whole, Eddie Murphy and all, it's still a fine movie and a reason for optimism about the future of hand-drawn animation.
Perhaps I am not the best person to review Disney cartoons...I spend
too much of my time thinking things like......Hey they seem to be
wearing Tang Dynasty clothes but they are practicing ancestor worship
which was not introduced until the birth of the Neo-Confucian religion
in the Song Dynasty.
However Chinese stories have always gone through a process of growth and change, with elements added and removed by different story tellers and at different times.
Disney's Mulan tells the historic/legendary story of Hua Mu Lan, a character popular with Chinese woman.
The historical innacurracies are really just a Disney Uber-China where the core elements of Chinese history are fused for the purposes of story telling.
I avoided seeing this movie for a long time because of the feeling that it would be racist. In many ways it was. Firstly it projects a western view that Asian women are meant to be stupid and compliant, when in fact Asian women are meant to be intelligent, well read, educated and capable and Chinese literature often admires these women. However the world's of women and men are meant to separate. The idea of women being brainless is a Western culture value projected onto Asia. The idea of women not being determined or strong is also a western culture value.
The other problem is the portrayal of the Huns as yellow eyed inhuman creatures or demons.
But the is the world of Disney. The good guys are good and the bad guys bad. The values of families sticking together, good beating evil, try your best etc are the 1950s American values that have lived on at Disney.
However it is an enjoyable story, and I watch it in China, in Inner Mongolia (Mongolians being from the same region as the Huns), with Chinese and Mongolians....and well they weren't offended....
and it is a lovely story, funny, sad, serious, with a lot of beautiful shots, heroic battles, clever dialog in the Disney fashion. Not an artist masterpiece, but a nice pick-me-up movie on a cold dreary night in Mongolia.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We are all accustomed to the usual beautiful princess who needs a prince to rescue them; that is not the case for Mulan who proves herself not to be a damsel in distress, but a warrior who saves all of China. She accomplishes this amazing task along with vivid characters and defeats all odds against her. It was not just a film, though, it was an epic depiction based on a true story of Hua Mulan, a real warrior who fought in the invasion of China. The Disney film Mulan captures the timelessness of Ballad of Mulan and reintroduces it in a way that appeals to viewers of all ages, displaying empowerment as a trait all girls can possess, overall an excellent movie with clear cut theme and plot without losing its authenticity. Mulan, released in 1998, was a screenplay written by Robert D. San Souci. Fa Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) was the only child of her ill father Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh) and mother Fa Li (Freda Foh Shen), both decent farmers. The story begins with Mulan having a meeting with the matchmaker to find a suitable husband, but Mulan is not as poised and graceful enough to impress the matchmaker and ultimately dismissed and labeled a disgrace. Soon after her father is summoned by the councilman Chi Fu (James Hong) to serve in battle. Chinese culture collects one male from each family, if the father is summoned, a son can volunteer to assume his position; although in this family, there is no son to volunteer. A brave and determined Mulan, afraid to lose her father, decides she is going to take his place disguising herself as his son. Since women cannot participate in war she had the challenge of concealing her identity as well as living up to expectations as a male warrior. Li Shan (B.D Wong) is assigned to train the recruitments for battle. Mulan was not as trained and skilled as most of the males so she was met with challenges. After training was over with Mulan was at the top of her class, and soon her identity was revealed and she was released from the roster. She was a determined warrior she returned leading to victory against Shan Yu with the help of some friends and began her budding romance with Li Shang. In addition to the incredible Disney film, it's not only for the television screen, the story has roots. Mulan is actually based on a real person and a real account in history. Mulan is based on a ballad written anonymously during the Ming Dynasty telling the legend Hua Mulan. There of course are subtle differences in the ballad and film, such as the fact that Hua Mulan was fairly skilled in weapons and combat, overtly Mulan was not. What makes this fact special is the time period (1368 C.E-1644 C.E.) where there were strict roles that men and women should follow, especially in Chinese culture. But Mulan differed all regulation and ultimately became a popular figure in Chinese history. Selflessly she took the place of her father in risk of being exiled, killed, or worse. It inspired me even, not to allow anything to become a hindrance and to continue to be selfless one day it may be recognized as greatness. Needless to say, the ballad sets the movie apart from any other Disney film. Characterization is important in any film, they give it dynamics and set the tone. This is a critical movie, but the tone can be very light hearted given the vivacious characters. Mulan is given an ancestor spirit in the form of a little red dragon named Mushu (Eddie Murphy) he adds a comical twist although he is very wise. The characters were well thought out and given an identity, even the minor characters were complex. Warriors and friends of Mulan's like Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po were supporting characters who, like Li Shang, learned to accept Mulan's motives and forgive her deceit. Then you have the obvious static character like Shan Yu whose ultimate goal was to kill the last of the Chinese warriors. Moreover, the voice behind the characters were all of Asian descent (given very few exceptions), I found that intriguing and it gave the roles even more distinction. Characterization provided in this film gave the story the tone it needed to reach out to the audience, without losing the culture. This film happens to be a family favorite, it's always on the list when binge watching Disney films. After its release it was nominated for an Oscar award, and ranked number 2 in the box office, rightly so. Without bias this film has been underrated, I believe it gives hope to female youth. It gives off a sense of empowerment and bravery over all odds. In this story you do not need a prince to rescue you from a tower guarded by dragons; in this case the dragon was her accomplice and she saved her prince. If you were to ever ask who my favorite Disney "princess" is I would tell you Mulan. Although she is not a princess, she has just as much nobility on film and in history.
Enjoyable Disney movie about a young woman named Mulan in ancient China who poses as a man and joins the army so her elderly father will not have to. She proves her worth as a soldier against the invading Huns. Excellent voicework all around with Ming-Na Wen giving a delightful performance as Mulan. Eddie Murphy's comic relief dragon is funny (and obviously a precursor for his work as Donkey in the Shrek series). The songs are nice, though few stay with you for very long after the credits roll. Good score from Jerry Goldsmith. The animation is solid and occasionally impressive. The cultural diversity helps greatly as the story is predictable to a fault. It's got humor and action to spare with a little bit of romance and at least one tearjerker moment. It's not the best movie that Disney put out in the '90s but it's a good one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mulan (1998): Dir: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft / Voices: Ming Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, B.D. Wong, Harvey Fierstein, Miguel Ferrer: Glorious and enchanting animation regarding the war on China in which one male from every household must venture. Mulan is a teenage girl discouraged of past failures. Her father is not well enough to fight so she cuts her hair and sets out in the night while her parents are asleep. Well placed humour takes affect as she attempts to act manly during training. While plot is typical, structure is formula but its ending bares the message. Directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft with beautiful animated appeal that will appeal to family audiences although it isn't as broad as the best of Disney animations. Ming Na Wen voices Mulan who undertakes a massive task. It is obvious that she will be the hero she never was and that her family will be honored, etc. Eddie Murphy steals scenes as Mulan's dragon guardian who is not exactly what he appears. Murphy steals every scene as the voice of this little red creature. Other voice talents accompany very flat personalities. B.D. Wong voices the commander whom Mulan is under but he serves only as a tight ass and eventual romantic prop. Harvey Fierstein voices one of the other loons under command. Although screenplay is thin it does pass as hilarious with a broad message of endurance and family loyalty. Score: 7 / 10
I took my kids to this film when it was first released. I had not seen it since. My daughter holds it in high regard. It is quite a nice film. Mulan, the title character, is being groomed to marry, following the various requirements of one in her position. I would be interested to see how Chinese people today would accept or reject her as a character. The empire is being invaded by the Huns and one member of each family must go fight. Since she is an only child, her frail father must again put on his military uniform and go to fight. He can barely walk and it is horrible for Mulan to watch. She cuts her hair, dons the military clothing, and sets out to join the fray. She is accompanied by a dragon that the spirits have given her out of fear for her safety. Unfortunately, he is relatively useless. Played by Eddie Murphy, he is pretty much the same character as Donkey from Shrek. His mouth flaps constantly with no filter. Once she enters the service, she must maintain her boy-ness and perform deeds that make her useful to them. Her successes are often accidental, but she begins to be seen as a force to her fellow warriors. The Huns are enormous and dangerous, and she must eventually face off the with their leader, no easy task. This is all about having no standing in a culture of sexism that has been around for centuries. This would be quite inspiring for young girls.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is not quite the story of self realization and female empowerment
that the commercial and internet reviewers are calling it. If she is a
role model for the independent girl, Mulan is a very ambivalent one.
Mulan does balk at being married off by the matchmaker, she does go off to war, and she does prove to be not only tough and brave but the smartest soldier in her outfit. She twice saves the life of Li Shang's, her commanding officer and love interest, and she kills the chief of the Huns. The Emperor, who says "A girl like this doesn't come along every dynasty," gratefully offers her a seat on the Imperial Council.
Having seen the wider world at its ugliest in wartime, Mulan is uncomfortable with her newly won status. She turns down the offer because, she says, she has been away from her family too long. Prodded by the Emperor, the deeply smitten but none too swift Li Shang follows to court her. As the movie ends, it is perfectly clear that she will marry him, with the enthusiastic support of her mother and grandmother, who had despaired of ever marrying her off.
Li Shang is brave, conscientious, honorable, from a good family, and not all that smart. You can see him 30 years later in his father the general, a dignified, worthy man who gets his army massacred by the Huns. He is still an excellent match for Mulan and her family, and she is an excellent match for him. He'll love and honor her in very comfortable surroundings as he pursues a career at court. She'll run the marriage and bring some brains and spirit into the Li gene pool. Their sons should do very well.
Their daughters are another story. The Emperor sees Mulan as something that "doesn't come along every dynasty," not as an example of half the population of his realm. And Mulan turns down that seat on the Imperial Council. Her family comes first, and she's been successful enough already. She turns her back on her own exceptional quality. Mulan doesn't put on a glass slipper, but she makes her own glass ceiling.
If the movie has a message for girls, it is that the wider world of men is a nasty, hard and dangerous place. Having a successful career there when you're young is good because it wins you respect and puts you in touch with a much better class of husband material when the time comes to leave your career behind, go home, and settle down with your own family. Mulan's courage, spirit and intelligence raise her out of the marriage market to which she appears foredoomed in the first reel, only to win her the one extraordinary man whom she deserves in the last.
Mulan is popular entertainment shrewdly and successfully designed to appeal to an audience that favors gender equality in principle but is ambivalent about its price. While we'd like our daughters to do well in their own right, we'd also like them to mother our grandchildren. Mulan is all in favor of young women of intelligence and spirit going out to prove themselves in the world run by men, but it is equally in favor of their settling down with the right young man to carry on the family after they have gotten the career thing out of their system.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mulan is an animated musical film directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry
Cook.It is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan,who is a girl
pretends to be a man and takes her father's place in the army. Ming-Na,
Eddie Murphy, Miguel Ferrer and BD Wong together with Miguel
Ferrer,Harvey Fierstein,Beth Fowler,George Takei and Pat Morita
provided voice to the characters.The screenplay was written by Rita
Hsiao, Philip LaZebnik, Chris Sanders, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer, and
It is set in China during the Han Dynasty. Fa Mulan is the only daughter of aged warrior Fa Zhou. She impersonates a man and takes her father's place during a general conscription to counter a fictitious Hun invasion led by Shan Yu. Along with her guardian dragon Mushu, her captain, Li Shang, a lucky cricket and her companions, Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po, she battles the invading Hun army.
Exploring themes of family duty and honor, this movie breaks new ground as a Disney film, while still bringing vibrant animation and sprightly characters to the screen.What's terrific about it is its reaching for emotions that other movies run from: family love and duty, personal honor and group commitment, obedience and ingenuity.Overall, this is a lovely film, ranking with the best of Disney's animated features while taking on serious issues of war, honor, gender roles and family pride.
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