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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Drama > Musical > The Ultimate Mulan 2-Movie Collection: Mulan – Special Edition + Mulan II (Disney DVD)

The Ultimate Mulan 2-Movie Collection: Mulan – Special Edition + Mulan II (Disney DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Films: B/C+



The 1998 film Mulan is another great addition to the Disney animated library, whereas Mulan II slips into the background as an adequate but unmemorable straight to video sequel.  Mulan is packed to brim with the deep rooted and meaningful messages that audiences have come to be expect from Disney.


The first Mulan film is infused with solid animation, memorable musical numbers, and a great plot.  Whereas the film is certainly not one of this reviewer’s favorite Disney films, it can be regarded as top notch as it holds its ground against other past classics.  The story of Mulan is one of a girl trying to find her place in the world.  The thirty sixth full length animated feature from Disney starts with the evil White Huns led by Shan Yu invading China, while China starts a general army mobilization to stop the Huns.  Meanwhile, our female lead Mulan is sent to a matchmaker to help her arrange a marriage and bring honor to her family; unfortunately for Mulan a series of mishaps with her lucky cricket get her banished from the matchmaker’s house.


Shortly after Mulan’s arrival home she discovers that they emperor is requiring one male from each household to join China’s army to battle the Huns; since Mulan’s father has no sons he is forced to enlist despite his age and ailments.  Mulan pleads with her father to reconsider, but he has no choice.  In the middle of the night Mulan takes her father’s weapons, armor, horse, and conscription notice (after cutting off her hair) and goes out into the night to join the army.  Mulan’s grandmother sounds an alarm as Mulan’s mother begs her husband to retrieve their daughter, fearing she will be killed; Mulan’s father knows, however, that if he reveals what his daughter has done she will be sentenced to death.


In her family’s temple Mulan’s ancestors awaken and send Mushu (the gong dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy) to awaken the great stone dragon ‘Stoney’ to follow and protect Mulan on her journey; the clumsy Mushu breaks Stoney and decides to take it upon himself to protect Mulan.  Mushu figures if he turns the girl into a hero he will be restored to a place of power in the temple.  The animated feature then develops into a game of Mulan with the help of Mushu, hiding her true identity from the men while still becoming the hero that she knows she is inside.  The epic battle scenes and great music throughout film help it to stand out as another classic member of the Disney Renaissance.  Mulan is something different from Disney, while maintaining the same traditional heart and soul.


Mulan II follows a similar path as the first film, reuniting many of the characters from its predecessor and utilizing a theme/lesson based storyline.  The film puts forth solid and heartfelt messages of honor, hard choices, trust, loyalty, love, and much more.  The plot follows Mulan and her fiancée General Shang (from the first film) as they escort three of the emperor’s daughters across the country to meet their soon to be husbands.  The film deals with the idea of arranged marriages and people’s right to fall in love.  The emperor’s daughters marrying the princes from a different land would unite the two countries into an alliance that would save China from the Mongol hordes.


A problem surfaces when Mulan discovers that the princesses do not wish to partake in an arranged marriage, as they have fallen in love with Shang’s three men Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po.  Mulan sets out to stop the arranged marriages at all costs, while Mulan’s dragon guardian Mushu sets out to stop Mulan from marrying Shang.  If Shang and Mulan wed Shang’s family guardians will take over for Mushu and take him out of a place of honor.  There are a lot of lessons and action in this film that will surely entertain younger audiences, but lacks the depth and detail that made the first film a classic.


The editions released here in this two film 3-Disc set are the same as those that were released in Oct of 2004 (Mulan: Special Edition) and February of 2005 (Mulan II).  Even the inserts within the cases are oddly outdated advertising films as ‘Coming Soon,’ though they have been out for years.  The compilation type packaged is labeled as ‘The Ultimate Mulan 2-Movie Collection,’ but really it is just another Disney ‘double dip’ that offers no additional features or upgraded presentations than the earlier.  Besides fitting both animated films into a single cardboard slip cover that is generic to say the least the films should only appeal to those who did not already purchase the previous releases.


The technical features presented here on both films are far from epic and can not compare to other Disney Platinum or Blu-Ray releases, but are adequate nonetheless.  The picture on Mulan is a 1.66 X 1 Widescreen, where as Mulan II uses a slightly different 1.78 X 1 aspect ratio; both films enhanced for 16 X 9 televisions.  The films both have bright colors with a very crisp image, though there are still some contrast and sharpness issues that should be addressed for later editions.  Mulan is definitely superior to the direct to DVD Mulan II, since it demonstrates much more depth in the areas of animation, color usage, and backgrounds; Mulan II, though it has a clean image, seems to precise and takes away the degree of intensity and grit that any animation should have.  The sound on both films is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround that is nice for the most part, but in certain action and musical sequences failed to use the full power and range of the surrounds; especially Mulan II.  The lower caliber of voice work and musical numbers on Mulan II did not help the film either; most of the original cast not returning for the direct to DVD sequel.


The extras on both Mulan films are adequate, but not very memorable.  Mulan: Special Edition offers fans some Deleted Scenes that include a Never Before Heard Song and Alternate Openings, a Music Video featuring Jackie Chan (huh?), Raven, and Christina Aguilera, a feature entitled Disneypedia that gives a detailed look into Mulan’s world and Mulan Fun Facts, both of which are in game form.  The best extra on Mulan is Backstage Disney, which allows fans to take a look at the creative process that developed the classic tale.  Overall, the extras on Mulan are nice, but expect much better from a Platinum release.


Mulan II offers similar extras with features like the Voices of Mulan II, The World of Mulan, Deleted Scenes, Mushu’s Guess Who Game, and an ‘I Wanna be like Other Girls’ music video performed by Atomic Kitten.  The features to this reviewer don’t have a great rewatchable quality, but are nice for a once through.


If you had not previously purchased the Mulan films, now may be the time to grab this nice two film collection.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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