Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) takes his spot — though, as a girl living under a patriarchal regime, she is technically unqualified to serve. She cleverly impersonates a man and goes off to train with fellow recruits. Accompanied by her dragon, Mushu (Eddie Murphy), she uses her smarts to help ward off a Hun invasion, falling in love with a dashing captain along the way.
‘Mulan’ has always been one of those movies I enjoyed watching but didn’t really love. I lumped it in with other [personal] Disney disappointments like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Pocahontas’. But last night I watched it and, well, I kind of adored it. And now I don’t get why it isn’t more popular!
For starters, the characters are something special. The only complaint I have about Mulan is that sometimes her voice actress doesn’t seem to be a very good actress. 😛 But other than that, Mulan is a young woman with a fierce love for her family – something even stronger than her fierce warrior skills. I love her compassion and bravery. I love her. And her dad is probably the best Disney dad ever. (All their scenes together make me tear up. Except maybe the very first one, ’cause it’s pretty funny.)
I can’t get over how much I liked Sheng on this rewatch! He’s such a well-developed character. He wants his father’s approval, he wants to protect his troops, he wants to understand this weird guy, Ping. You can almost see the conflict in his mind when he’s supposed to execute Mulan – loyalty to his country’s laws or loyalty to what he knows is right?
(By the way, I take issue with what that plot summary says about Mulan falling in love with Sheng ‘along the way’. I personally don’t see that she fell in love with him, except maybe at the verrrry end. And even then it was more of a, “I could like this guy if I had the chance”. Not actual love.)
Mushu still irks me at times, but he can be legitimately funny. And he’s not half as annoying as Olaf, so that’s a definite plus.
The artistry that went into ‘Mulan’ is astounding. Every time there’s smoke or steam or what have you, it’s rendered so artistically. And who can forget the iconic shot of the Huns spilling over the snowy clifftop? *literal chills*
And then there are the songs. They’re a little different than the typical Disney songs because there are no villain songs, no love duet…just two funny songs, the “I want” song, and THE SINGLE MOST EPIC SONG DISNEY EVER PRODUCED. (Jerry Goldsmith’s score is also worth a listen.)
The themes in ‘Mulan’ – loyalty, family, doing one’s duty – all strike a chord in me. Now, more so than ever. Which is probably why I like it so much. There are moments of humor throughout ‘Mulan’ but I think it’s Disney’s most grown-up princess movie. It’s also one of the most underrated. If you don’t enjoy ‘Mulan’ and haven’t seen it in a while, I highly suggest you give it another try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Have you watched ‘Mulan’? What do you think of it?