“Mulan” is a story about a girl of the same name who challenges traditional Chinese culture, in the name of helping her family and her country. In China, traditional gender roles dominate, meaning that women are not allowed to do ‘manly’ things. In fact, a girl is meant to spend her childhood preparing to become a bride, then spending the rest of her life tending to her husband. Mulan has already decided that this is not a lifestyle she envisions for herself.
When the Huns attack China, Mulan’s father is called to take part in the war. He is an elderly, weak man, in no condition to fight. Realizing this, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na) steals his conscription notice and decides to enlist in her father’s place. She cuts her hair and layers on clothing in an attempt to appear more masculine. Mulan faces numerous challenges on her journey, but she pulls through with sheer willpower, and the help of her sidekick Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy). Mulan eventually comes face to face with the Huns, and amazingly ends up combatting them and saving China. Her bravery certainly does not go unnoticed, as she is rewarded by the Emperor of China (voiced by Pat Morris, better known as Arnold from “Happy Days”). Throughout the film, Mulan struggles to find her identity and her place in the world, something that everyone has been through or will go through at some point in life. A breathtaking tale that is sure to please.
Directors Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft produced a true classic with “Mulan”. This movie is a visual feast of wonderful Disney animation, developed characters, and thrilling action. As with all Disney movies, the songs in “Mulan” are captivating. Be on the look out for Donny Osmond who is the singing voice of Captain Li Shang. The only problem with this movie is that it is obviously (and expectedly) Americanized, and thus does not authentically represent the Chinese culture (heck, Disney animators got their scenery ideas from the sets at Disney World!). On a positive note, the sappy boy-meets-girl episodes usually seen in Disney movies has been downplayed. The relationship between Mulan and her love interest Captain Li Shang (voiced by B.D. Wong) is easily digested. All in all, I highly recommend “Mulan”: a beautiful story of self-discovery, loyalty and most of all, love.
Mulan II directed by Darrell Rooney and Lynne Southerland:
After saving China, strong, brave and beautiful Mulan (Ming-Na), revered by all, wants to settle down and prepare for her marriage to General Shang (B.D. Wong). But wedding plans have to take a backseat when the Emperor (Pat Morita) calls upon General Shang and Mulan to complete a mission and once again save the country.
They must accompany the Emperor’s three princess daughters across the country to their arranged marriages to the rival kingdom’s princes and bring peace to the land. The marriages must take place in 3 days or the alliance will crumble. Joining the mission are Shang’s 3 greatest warriors who become distracted by the princesses and their beauty and start to fall in love with them. The princesses, whose duties are to the emperor and their country, start to have doubts about marrying for obligation instead of love. They must decide what is more important; their obligations and traditions or putting your feelings above your obligations.
Adding to the distractions is the bad news that Mushu (a hilarious Mark Mosely) will lose his job so Mushu tries to break up the engagement so he can keep his job. Despite the distractions, with many twists and turns, Mulan and Shang complete their mission and secure the alliance with the rival kingdom.
Other guest voices include Lucy Liu, Michelle Kwan, Harvey Feirstein and for our musical enjoyment, Donny Osmond singing in one of the songs of the movie.