Mulan (1998)

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8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking film

Story is odd, songs aren't memorable

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mulan

Studio:  Walt Disney Feature Animation

Genre(s):  Animated/Action/Adventure/Romance/Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  June 19, 1998

MPAA Rating:  G

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Ok Mulan…time to get a bit freaky…Let’s get cross-dressing!!!

China has been invaded by the Huns and the Emperor is calling on his people to defend their country.  When Mulan realizes her father is too old to fight, the tomboy daughter decides to fight in his place as a man.  With the help of a family dragon named Mushu, Mulan must convince the military that she is a man and help defeat the Hun general Shan Yu.  Entering the army as Ping, Mulan finds herself falling for her commander Li Shang and learns that she might change the course of the war.

Directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, Mulan was the thirty-six film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series.  Following Hercules in 1997, Mulan was well received and nominated for an Oscar for Best Musical Score (losing to Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love).

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Rising from the fires of hell…Eddie Murphy!!!

Mulan is a bit of a strange Disney film.  The movie adapts the old legend of Hua Mulan who was told to have fought in her older father’s place.  In the original story, Mulan isn’t discovered and becomes a hero.  Disney’s version changes this (and adds a talking dragon, a smart horse, and a cricket).

With a story based on a woman posing as a man, there is obviously some strange issues that have to be confronted.  The basic one is the idea of repression of women and whether a woman can find a place in war that doesn’t involve showing support from the sidelines.  Mulan must “be a man”, but of course shows that her female ingenuity really saves the war.  When Mulan is Mulan, no one will listen to her, but when she is Ping, she has respect.

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Hey if you want to spot the invader just look for the guy with glowing red eyes…

The next oddity is that there is the whole crossdressing issue.  The movie coms up a few times in the story outwardly, but there is the strange undercurrent.  Ping (Mulan’s “male” version) is attracted to her commanding officer.  Li Shang is also attracted to Ping…which makes an obvious problem since Disney really isn’t ready to face the gay issue (and when Mulan was released this would have been really progressive).  This is downplayed and would have made the film more interesting, but the betrayal is there and mostly unspoken.

The animation for Mulan is fantastic.  I love the mix of computer and classic animation in this one, and like Pocahontus, I feel they really come together nicely to present a new world.  It is unforturnate however that the movie has a poor songs.  The soundtrack might be good, but there aren’t many songs that are memorable.

I initially found Mulan rather forgettable.  The songs don’t pop out and story is rather predictable.  Looking back on it, I do find it better than some of the other Disney films from the period.  Aided by fantastic animation, Mulan is a Disney film to go back and reexamine and fans of Shrek might like Eddie Murphy’s Donkey prototype Mushu.  Mulan was followed by Mulan II in 2004, and Disney followed Mulan with Tarzan in 1999.

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Related Links:

Mulan II (2004)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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