The Ultimate Mulan 2-Movie Collection: Mulan –
Special Edition + Mulan II (Disney
B- Sound: B- Extras: B- Films: B/C+
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
had not previously purchased the Mulan
films, now may be the time to grab this nice two film collection.
- Michael P. Dougherty II