Solid entertainment from a new group of Disney animators. The story source is a Chinese fable about a young girl who disguises herself as a man to help her family and her country. When the Huns attack China, a call to arms... more » goes out to every village, and Mulan's father, being the only man in the family, accepts the call. Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen, sung by Lea Salonga) has just made a disastrous appearance at the Matchmaker and decides to challenge society's expectations (being a bride). She steals her father's conscription notice, cuts her hair, and impersonates a man to join the army. She goes to boot camp, learning to fit in with the other soldiers with some help from her sidekick, Mushu, a wise-cracking dragon (voiced by Eddie Murphy). She trains, and soon faces the Huns eye-to-eye to protect her Emperor. The film is gorgeous to look at, with a superior blend of classic and computer-generated animation. Directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook make the best of it: a battle in the snowy mountains is as thrilling as the best Hollywood action films. The menacing Huns are not cute but simple and bad. The wickedness is subtle, not disturbing. The film is not a full-fledged musical, as it has only five songs (the best, "Be a Man," is sung during boot camp). Eddie Murphy is an inspired choice for the comic-relief dragon, but his lines are not as clever as Robin Williams's in Aladdin. These are minor quibbles, though. The story is strong, and Mulan goes right to the top of Disney animated heroines; she has the right stuff. --Doug Thomas« less
Kathleen W. from BROCKPORT, NY Reviewed on 11/11/2009...
entertaining DVD for 5-8 yr olds.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Well Worth Watching
Mei L. Po | Sherborn, MA United States | 10/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, kudos to Disney for *finally* including a MANDARIN LANGUAGE AUDIO TRACK (the original DVD had French and Spanish- no Chinese). It's about time!!!
Next: I have to emphatically disagree with reviewer Bill Mydo below. -You will excuse me if I spend some little time defending this film against his critique; Mulan happens to be my favorite Disney animated movie, second only perhaps to Beauty and the Beast. Perhaps my being Chinese-American may have something to do with it, as does the fact that I strongly identify with the character's self-doubts. Still, I am fairly particular as to what I consider "good art"; and it boggles and confounds me that anyone would fail to see the difference between this movie and, for example, Hunchback or Hercules.
Yes, Disney's Mulan is very much a western/ American movie, made for western and American- not Asian- audiences. No, they "didn't get it right"; or, not exactly. But I never expected them to, and I give them a good deal of credit for trying. They came quite a bit closer that I ever thought that they would. Nor do I find this movie overly feminist (no more than Snow White or Cinderella are "chauvinist"). Mulan may be a strong female character, but she is not Aladdin's Princess Jasmine. Mulan is not defined by rebellion, nor by what she rejects. Instead she upholds her sense of honor as she struggles to find out who she is and where she fits in. Moreover, in a genre known for its blatant ad nauseum boy-meets-girl love themes, I truly appreciated the downplayed understatedness of the "interest" between Mulan and Captain Shang.
As to the "commercial" aspect of the film; yes, it had its tie-ins and its merchandising. What Disney movie doesn't? But the real issue is the worth of the film itself, and on this I take exception to the review below. I believe there is more in it than Mr. Mydo gives credit for.
The film does have its awkward moments. The scene with the match-maker and Mulan's first entrance into the army camp are both extremely painful to watch- I do not enjoy watching anyone be utterly humiliated- not even a cartoon character (and I do not believe that someone as bright as Mulan would fumble so badly over simply coming up with a new name). I also find it somewhat irksome that one minor character, Mushu the dragon, continually steals attention away from the movie's proper focus. And there are a number of jokes and visual gags that closely border on PG. I found this in somewhat poor taste in a kid's movie.
But these faults are counterbalanced, and more than compensated for, by the scenes that really work. The opening "brush painting" of the Great Wall; Mulan's song (Reflections) and the ensuing scene of loving encouragement from her father; the scene where she decides to leave home; her heart-to-heart talk with Mushu at the abandoned camp in the mountains; the Imperial Palace where she is honored by the Emperor before all China... the sheer artistry of these scenes is breathtaking.
When the Special Edition DVD is released, I intend to be first in line!"
My Favorite Animated Film of All Time...
K. A. Stevenson | Tucson | 04/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not believe that I have EVER watched an animated film that taught more of the values that I would want future generations to learn from than MULAN. I have watched this movie at LEAST 25 times and simply put - it is PROFOUND.
The movie opens with Mulan getting ready to go to the "Matchmaker." Although, she is a beautiful girl, she lacks the grace to make a good impression. Devistated, she returns home. Her father tells her that "like the cherry blossoms, her season has not come."
When China is invaded by the Huns, there is one line in the movie that is uttered by the emperor and it is SO insightful. The general in charge of the armies confidently announces that his men can handle this invasion. However, the emperor issues a proclamation calling all available men because, "sometimes a single grain of rice may be the deciding balance in tipping the scales." Or - "one man may make a difference between conquest and defeat."
In this case, it turns out to be a woman! I LOVE how Mulan interacts horribly with the men at first and how she is told to leave. Mulan has to prove herself and she doesn't give up.
Even after she is a hero, Mulan is disgraced when it is discovered that she is a woman. She is shunned and yet when she must come to the rescue of China again, her comrades are loyal to her and listen to her ideas.
Throughout the movie there are the different interactions of those who accept women for who they are and those who are stuck within stereotypes.
Mulan is a cute and VERY funny movie with adorable songs. What makes it a GREAT movie however, is the very powerful message that we should judge one another on our merits and character - whether we be men or women."
Chinese | Austin, TX | 09/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a Chinese, I really appreciate the efforts put into this movie. Most of the movie is accurate to the old tale that my mother told me when I was a young girl. Especially Mulan's strive to prove that she could be more than just a helpless girl waiting to be married into a wealthy family. This story has been staged in many Chinese operas. Mom's version has it that nobody discovered Mulan's true identity until the captain decided to visit Mulan after the war.
Naturally mom's version did not include a wisecracking dragon, but it was a welcome addition. The up-to-date jokes made it an easier story to comprehend. "
Michael P. Simon | West Coast | 01/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mulan is the kind of Disney movie that I've been waiting for for a long time. As a father of a 9 year old girl, movies like Pocahontas and especially Hunch back carried fairly heavy handed romantic (and in the case of Hunchback especially obsessive and sexual) undertones that made me, as parent, uneasy. Mulan was the first film in a while that wasn't centered around a female lead striving for the affections of a man. She was a strong young woman who was protecting the health, safety and honor of her father and her family. It was really a step in the right direction to show that a woman doesn't have to be driven by romance or the affections of another to be a strong role model and a leader. I hope Disney takes notice and considers this theme in future."
An ode to love and honor
M. Rausseo | Planet Earth | 06/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe one of the most mature and serious features Disney has developed. It's about battles against the will and the courage of a young woman who won't give up. It's Mulan, a movie that combining very elements -humor, love and hate-, creates an intelligent story that no one should miss.
Based on a Chinese legend, Mulan is the tale of a young girl that doesn't fit in the rigid structures imposed for her traditional culture, as to how it should be the women's' rol in society An independent spirit sentenced to "never bring honor to her family" for adopting her own way of thinking and acting.
In the time of Chinese feudalism, the Emperor, who has to confront an attack of Huns, commanded for the evil Shan Yu, orders to recruit a man for every family to take a place n the future war. Mulan's father, the only man in her family and very tied to traditions, accepts his duty without a doubt.
And like her father, without too much thinking, Mulan decides to takes his place, turning herself into a man. She cuts her hair, steals her dad's war weapons and gets enlisted in the military calling herself "Ping". On the road she meets 2 cartoonish-y friends, a funny dragon called Mushu and a cricket called, Crikee (convenient). Both give the usual touch of comedy in this kind of movie.
In military life, Mulan shows a defying and rigorous training, under the critic eye of her boss, Captain Shang. And she proves both intelligence and courage in the battlefield. Her search to defend her family name and to get approval of her way of thinking is told with great style.
The animation is very nice, from scenes as impressive as the battle in the snow to the parade before the Imperial palace. Unusual camera angles are implemented, colors and textures are used with great delicacy, enriching the cinematography; the score is light and fresh.
In Mulan, once again Disney tries to explore emotions and feelings like family love, duty, courage, honor, obedience, boldness, willpower and team work. All of them very positive notions for children and adults, to learn and practice. "