One of Disney's last great victories, this movie features some terrific
animation, wonderful songs, and a character that we truly want to identify
with and see succeed.
The visuals are what attracts most to this film. Mulan is beautiful,
the settings are beautiful, and the two comic creatures, Cricket and Mushu,
are adorably cute. The movie features comedy in form of three men who at
first terrorize Mulan (known as Ping in her man-makeup), and then go to
respect her for her abilities, even though they don't know even her true
gender. These men are hilarious, as they have no skill whatsoever with
any of the battle techniques.
The rest of the comedy takes the form of Mushu and the cricket. Mushu
must go in the place of an ancestral guardian that he destroyed (he was trying
to wake it up from being a stone dragon), to rescue Mulan. From his
bacon and eggs breakfast to his sly comments (like in Shrek,
Mushu is extremely funny carrying Eddie Murphy's voice), the dragon steals
almost every scene he is in.
As for Mulan, she is a thinking woman, and as such, has no place in Chinese
society. When the Huns attack China, a man from every family is conscripted
into an army. Mulan secretly takes her father's place. The scene
where she cuts her hair and puts on her father's armor is very powerful, and
contains my favorite instrumental music in the whole film. Through lots
of effort, Mulan tries to be a soldier. And only after being humiliated
and told to go home, does she put in the extra effort to succeed. The
song that accompanies the training scenes is also one of my
The captain of the guard has his work cut out for him, training these
troops. And once he is called into battle (by Mushu, who doesn't want
the opportunity to pass by after all the work he's put into his charge, and in
a very funny scene involving a panda), he discovers that his father and the
entire army has been destroyed.
Mulan saves the group, including the captain (with whom she has fallen in
love) from a Hun attack using a rocket to create a gigantic avalanche.
One of the most impressive scenes in this movie concerns the Hun ambush.
Watching all those men run or ride down the mountains through computer
generated figures sent chills down my spine. It's even better than the
stampede in The Lion King. And when the
avalanche engulfs them, it is a tremendous victory for the Chinese
troops. But Mulan was wounded, and her secret is given away by the
doctor who treats her.
And so she is left behind, but since she saved the Captain's life, she is
left alive. And after they go to the capital city, Mulan witnesses the
several Hun soldiers revive from the snow, including their leader. She
rides into the city to warn the Emperor, but is too late, for nobody will
listen to her.
The scenes in the city were great, as she devised a plan that the others
reluctantly helped her carry out. They then realize that she is still
Ping, even though she's a woman. They save the emperor by dressing up as
"ugly concubines!" So the Emperor rewards her, and the Captain
follows her home. What better reward.
Supporting the cast was Mulan's hilarious grandmother, who after Mushu, got
the best lines in the movie. "Do you want to stay forever,"
she asks the Captain after he is invited to dinner! She is not shy, and
her age lets her say things that otherwise would be dishonorable.
The songs were also wonderfully scripted. I own the CD and kept
singing or humming to my favorites. There was no point in the movie
where the music was inappropriate; all of it was exciting and
passionate. I will still watch this movie over and over again.