This retelling of the old Chinese folktale is about the story of a young Chinese maiden who learns that her weakened and lame father is to be called up into the army in order to fight the invading Huns. Knowing that he would never survive the rigours of war in his state, she decides to disguise herself and join in his place. Unknown to her, her ancestors are aware of this and to prevent it, they order a tiny disgraced dragon, Mushu to join her in order to force her to abandon her plan. He agrees, but when he meets Mulan, he learns that she cannot be dissuaded and so decides to help her in the perilous times ahead.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Mulan is a tomboy of sorts - not something that is looked for in a Chinese wife, and she causes constant worry and dishonour to her family. When the Huns attack China, the Emperor commands each family to put one man forward to fight. With Mulan's aged father the only man of the family it looks like he must fight, but Mulan dresses as a man and takes his place. With the help of dragon Mushu, Mulan overcomes her status as a woman to help take on the Hun.
I wasn't sure I would like this film as I have grown a little tired of the Disney formula of `songs, romance and smartassed comedy sidekicks', which Mulan sticks to pretty well, however I did really enjoy this film. I think it was mainly because of the sweep of the story, the big battles and the majestic feel to the movie. The plot moves swiftly and felt like it was all over too quickly. It has the usual mix of laughs for parents and kids as well as having quite a good story behind it all.
The only major weakness is the songs. I didn't exactly start tapping my feet at any of them and, while they are not bad per se, they aren't great and after a few lines I was wanting to skip past them (but couldn't - it was showing on TV). Asides from these the film is funny and quite dramatic and is good fun to watch. The cast are good. Ming-Na is a good Mulan while Murphy rehearses for Shrek with his smart mouthed dragon that gets plenty of good laughs. DB Wong is a good actor but has a `straight' role and doesn't distinguish himself. I was worried at first by the presence of Harvey Fierstein, but he did good work and wasn't half as irritating as he usually is.
With colourful animation that is good without being Pixar, this is a good cartoon that is fun, funny and, at times, dramatic. I'm not a big fan of Disney over the last few years but I did really enjoy this film and would watch it again.
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