Disney’s animated feature uses great music and likable characters to tell the Chinese tale of a war heroine named Mulan, voiced by Ming-Na (ER, Joy Luck Club) who disguises herself as a man in the Chinese army. The funny situational scenes probably don’t exist in the actual tale, but they do entertain and accentuate the girl’s secret identity.
In the beginning of the story, Mulan struggles to satisfy her mother by preparing to be a proper wife and her father by keeping the family traditions honorable. When she’s faced with a critical decision that could affect her family forever, she follows her heart and ends up satisfying herself and finding her true identity.
A Chinese army captain named Li Shang is voiced by B.D.Wong with Donny Osmond covering the singing voice. Harvey Fierstein (Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day) voices the tough-minded Yao and Pat Morita voices the Emperor, but the most entertaining character is Mushu the Dragon voiced by the incomparable Eddie Murphy. Mushu, her horse Khan, and a “lucky” cricket accompany Mulan on her journey to help China defeat the antagonist Hun invaders lead by their leader Shan Yu (Miguel Ferrer) who has a helpful falcon.
Themes of honor and responsibility flow through the film and teach important lessons that apply to modern situations. As in past Disney films, the filmmakers combine expert musicians and animators to make a cohesive story that explain deep feelings while entertaining the audience.
Strong Oriental and orchestral music emits the main characters’ identities during crucial turning points in their lives. Quality sound combined with engaging, colorful images convey expert use of basic cinematic tools like theme, vision, and tone. Directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook create a great story of “the flower that blooms in adversity…the most rare and beautiful of all”.
Disney seems to be spanning the globe with more diverse tales from other countries which follows their famous motto “it’s a small world after all.” A great film for all ages with a very good, Oscar nominated original musical score and songs, especially the song titled “Reflection” which should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for the version performed by Christina Aguilera.
Look at the temple stones while this song is being sung by Mulan’s singing voice, Lea Salonga, for the animators’ names which are written in ancient Chinese. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated G with an 88 minute running time.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler