1998; Rated G; 88 Minutes
Ming-Na Wen: Mulan
Eddie Murphy: Mushu
B.D. Wong: Shang
Harvey Fierstein: Yao
Jerry Tondo: Chien-Po
Gedde Watanabe: Ling
James Hong: Chi Fu
Miguel Ferrer: Shan-Yu
Soon-Tek Oh: Fa Zhou
Freda Foh Shen: Fa Li
Pat Morita: The Emperor
Produced by Pam Coats, Robert
S. Garber and Kendra Halland; Directed by Tony Bancroft and
Barry Cook; Screenwritten by Robert D. San Souci,
Rita Hsiao, Chris Sanders, Philip LaZebnik, Raymond Singer and
by DAVID KEYES
new animated feature begins like the traditional family
animated film they put out every year and then evolves into
a war epic filled with colorful characters, prolifically
powerful family values, and beautiful computer animation.
It is not in the tradition of any normal Disney animated
feature, as it takes place on the eastern side of the planet,
and relies on its characterization rather than music to
tell the story of Fa Mulan, who, in attempt to bring honor
to her family, takes her father Zhou's place in the great
war against the Chinese Huns, who have invaded the country
against the emperor. It is not the music this time around
that becomes the focus of most of the picture; it is the
characterizations are almost too hard to believe; they are
so powerful and strong that it's unlike any type of characterization
that Disney has ever presented us with. Most critics believe
that ever since "The Lion King," Disney has been cloning
their animated formula to the point where the recent animated
features seem fairly forgettable. I do not necessarily believe
for one second that "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback Of Notre
Dame," or "Hercules" are fairly forgettable, but for either
side of this debate, "Mulan" brings us something new in
the tradition, and as most new things of Disney, the movie
explores animated possibilities and penetrates us into a
rousing piece of work. Audiences will jump up and cheer
for "Mulan," which declares itself a true Disney masterpiece.
story takes place when the Huns break into China's land
and threaten the emperor in order to take down the great
wall, a threat which the emperor refuses. Then the Hun army
moves toward his palace, threatening any bystander in its
way, all to hostage the emperor in hopes his country will
give in and remove the wall.
Huns are led by Shan-Yu, the villain of the picture, who,
with glowing eyes and a grim smile, resembles a demonic
spirit, making him one of the most fearsome-looking Disney
villains in a long time.
the emperor learns that the Hun army might attack his palace,
he calls upon a member of each Chinese family to join his
army and fight the Huns, who seem to be progressing to the
palace rather rapidly. Within the Fa family, Zhou, who is
the head of the family, is called off, despite his old age.
Mulan, his daughter who has shamed the family, tries to
stop him from going, but he has no choice.
trying not only to save her father but her honor as well,
cuts her hair and races off with her father's armor and
horse to impersonate the soldier from the Fa family, though
the risk of finding out she is really a woman would be certain
and several other beginners are trained in the army by Shang,
son of the general, who Mulan has an eye for from a far.
She proves to be the best they have, and when they head
off into the mountains to help the other armies to fight
the Huns, they find themselves confronted with torn battlefields,
filled with soldiers who have already died for their country
to the Hun army.
these extremely gorgeous animated scenes, the Huns then
come over a side of the mountain to fight the army which
has just arrived on scene. Mulan, examining the snowy slopes
around, sets off the last bomb the army has onto a steep
snow-covered slope, displacing an avalanche that carries
the Huns over to the other side of the mountain. The army
then rushes off to the palace to inform the emperor of the
Hun's downfalls, not aware that they actually got back up
and continued on their journey.
scenes within the snowy mountains are the most beautiful
ever captured in animation. They renew our faith in Disney,
who, in the past, has created Notre Dame, Hades' Underworld,
a Wildebeest Stampede, a Cave of Wonders, and a beautiful
ballroom with the extraordinary techniques of computer animation.
may be a tale of war and family, but it was almost more,
because the film was originally concepted to gain a PG rating
in theaters. When the studios feared that the PG rating
would scare off younger audiences, as it did with "The Black
Cauldron," they cut it for G. Cutting it may not have been
the right choice, but for financial success, as well as
critical, they probably did the right thing for themselves.
way, what we have here is another Disney classic, one that
reminds that imagination and animation can create us things
that no live action film can--a freedom of creativity and
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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