Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
The flower that blooms in adversity is
the most rare and beautiful of all.
This movie is apparently based on a two millennia old story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to join the army and save her homeland from an enemy incursion. Characters who cross dress to achieve their objective isn't something entirely new, but in a setting where gender role are clearly defined and where the slightest mistake can bring shame on the whole family, the concept was bound to give some interesting developments.
The story takes place in ancient China, where a young woman named Mulan (voiced by Lea Salonga) is trying to fit the role society assigned to her but despite her best effort, she is having many difficulties in that regard. Meanwhile, an army of Huns is crossing the Great Wall to attack China's mainland. The Emperor (voiced by Pat Morita) makes a decree that one member of every Chinese family must join the army and defend the country. Fa Zhou (voiced by Soon-Tek Oh), Mulan's father, is the only man in family but he as a bad leg that prevent him from fighting and hinder his movements. However, he is an honorable man who will not flinch in the face of duty even if this means certain death. Mulan not wishing her father do die, cut her hair, steal her father's armor, take the scroll demanding one of her family member to fight in the war and escape into the night to joint the army.
To bring Mulan back, the family ancestors decide to send after her the most powerful family guardian: the Great Stone Dragon. Unfortunately, Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy), an travelling-size orange dragon inadvertently destroys the statue of the stone guardian. After teaming up with a so-called lucky cricket, Mushu decides to bring back Mulan by himself and restore his own place amongst the family guardians. But instead of bringing back Mulan, Mushu pushes her ahead to join the army, teaches her how to behave like a man and helps her in many small ways during the movie.
As mentioned earlier, Disney made tremendous effort to depict China as accurately as possible with decors, matchmakers and the high regard people give to honor and family.
The quality of the animation is quite good, the horses look a tad odd, but otherwise everything else is more than fine; the decors are detailed and the sceneries are varied and the scene with a thousand Huns charging is definitively an impressive piece of animation rarely seen elsewhere.
Sound & Music:
Some will consider the songs to slow down the plot slightly but overall, the numerous songs are generally well integrated in the movie. The soundtrack is memorable and appropriate in nearly all scenes. The characters are expressive and Eddy Murphy is doing an excellent job at impersonating a slightly hyperactive dragon.
One advantage of animation is that it makes it much easier for the actors, who just have to voice their role properly. It may take some time for some viewers to adjust themselves to Mushu frank dialogue which contrast slightly to the general setting of doing and saying what is right and acceptable in society but Mushu is the comic relief of the movie and he he doing a good job at it. Also, bad guys look and talk like bad guys. Though since they have relatively little dialogue and screen time, they usually have to prove how evil they are with relatively simple and quick means. it would have been nice to know a little more about their motivation, somethign more elaborate than "we kill people because we can" would have added some deepness to their characters.
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the movie as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(8/10) - Very Good|
|Sound & Music:||(7.5/10) - Good|
|Story line:||(6.5/10) - Average|
|Acting:||(7.5/10) - Good|
|Innovation:||(7/10) - Good|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(7.5/10) - Good|
|Overall:||(7.5/10) - Good
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).