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Mulan & Mulan II: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD Review

Mulan (1998) movie poster Mulan

Theatrical Release: June 19, 1998 / Running Time: 88 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft / Writers: Robert D. San Souci (story); Rita Hsiao, Christopher Sanders, Philip LaZebnik, Raymond Singer, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer (screenplay)

Voice Cast: Ming-Na Wen (Mulan), B.D. Wong (Li Shang), Eddie Murphy (Mushu), Harvey Fierstein (Yao), George Takei (First Ancestor), Jerry S. Tondo (Chien-Po), Gedde Watanabe (Ling), Matthew Wilder (Ling's singing voice), Miguel Ferrer (Shan-Yu), Frank Welker (Khan), James Shigeta (General Li), James Hong (Chi Fu), June Foray (Grandmother Fa), Pat Morita (The Emperor), Miriam Margoyles (The Matchmaker), Frank Welker (Khan, Cri-Kee - uncredited), Christopher Sanders (Little Brother - uncredited)

Songs: "Honor To Us All", "Reflection", "I'll Make a Man Out of You", "A Girl Worth Fighting For", "True To Your Heart"
Mulan II (2005) original DVD cover art Mulan II

Video Premiere: February 1, 2005 / Running Time: 79 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland / Writers: Michael Lucker, Chris Parker, Roger S.H. Schulman

Voice Cast: Ming-Na (Mulan), B.D. Wong (Shang), Mark Moseley (Mushu), Lucy Liu (Mei), Harvey Fierstein (Yao), Sandra Oh (Ting Ting), Gedde Watanabe (Ling), Lauren Tom (Su), Jerry Tondo (Chien-Po), Pat Morita (The Emperor), George Takei (First Ancestor), June Foray (Grandmother Fa), Fredda Foh Shien (Fa Li), Soon-Tek Oh (Fa Zhou), Frank Welker (Cri-Kee)

Songs: "Lesson Number One", "A Girl Worth Fighting For (Redux)", "Like Other Girls", "(I Wanna Be) Like Other Girls", "Here Beside Me"

Buy Mulan from Amazon.com: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD • 2 Movie Collection DVD • 2-Disc Special Edition DVD

In the 1990s, international markets weren't nearly as significant to the movie business as they are today. But Disney's animated musicals were something of an exception. Grossing even more outside North America than in it, these films were global phenomenons.
With virtually the entire world flocking to the movies, Disney had good reason to consider all regions for settings and inspirations. The studio still gravitated to European fairy tales with which their canon had begun, but also broadened their scope enough to include folk tales of the Middle East, African wildlife, and Greek mythology. Adapting an ancient Chinese legend, then, wasn't a huge stretch for the 1998 release Mulan.

Loosely based on a poem dating back at least to the sixth century, Mulan tells the story of an adolescent woman whose elderly father, as the only male of his family, is required to join China's army in response to an invasion of Huns. Fa Mulan decides to take her father's place, cutting her hair and hiding her femininity to blend in with the all male warriors as "Fa Ping." It is a hapless group, one unlikely to do much to deter Hun leader Shan Yu, but between the guidance of Li Shang and the gumption of Mulan, the Chinese are able to stave off their invaders.

Ornamentation is not a good fit for Mulan. Mushu is a smaller guardian than Mulan expected.

Like the other Disney animated films of this time, Mulan offers a mixture of ingredients. The three most prominent are comedy, Broadway-style music, and epic adventure. Those forms are somewhat at odds and in adhering to each, Mulan feels compartmentalized. The film gets the songs out of the way up front, burning through the four original numbers by the halfway point and then abandoning that genre save for a brief reprise.

No longer being a musical makes it easier to take the film seriously as a war epic, although the ancient history being relayed isn't defined very clearly. Basically, yellow eyes, a Fu Manchu moustache, and a dark aura establish Shan-Yu and his endless army as the ruthless foes. As far as Disney villains go, he is one of the studio's least memorable, having no humor, henchman, or personality (over-the-top or otherwise) to distinguish him. That makes it easy to sympathize more with the brave and pleasant Mulan and her wacky fellow soldiers who run quite the gamut in stature.

Once again, this film saw Disney's animators pushing the medium and finding ways to incorporate computer-generated imagery as seamlessly and tastefully as possible. An avalanche scene is remarkably reminiscent of The Lion King's big wildebeest stampede, but it differs by setting hordes of charging Huns against snowy mountains. The actual pyrotechnics lit in the final act, set in the city around the Emperor's palace, are but some of the many visual fireworks offered here. This is a film whose artistic expression and advancement is easy to admire.

Despite the relatively serious subject matter, comedy pervades this film. The cross-dressing premise yields much misunderstanding, but we also get a couple of sidekicks to up the smile and laugh counts. Cri-Kee is Mulan's cute lucky cricket, a mute insect recalling hummingbird Flit from Pocahontas. Far more prominent is Mushu, a small red dragon assigned to guard Mulan by her ethereal ancestors. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, the character offers a crystal-clear preview of Shrek's companion Donkey, though his jokes here are slyer and less referential.

Murphy is one of the film's few non-Asian-American voice cast members. Echoing the casting of Native Americans for Pocahontas, Disney's notion of cultural responsibility is to find actors with Asian lineage. They needn't be of Chinese heritage; those of Japanese descent, like Pat Morita, George Takei and Gedde Watanabe, are also welcome, as are some Caucasians (Harvey Fierstein, June Foray). The lead singing voices, meanwhile, are provided by Lea Salonga (who handled the same duties for Aladdin's Jasmine) and Donny Osmond. Clearly, Disney's lucrative formula had to take some precedence over stringent political correctness.

Shan-Yu and the Huns are beat, but not yet beaten. While Shang stays manly, Ling, Chien-Po, and Yao get to try out the whole drag thing in the climax.

Mulan sort of curtailed Disney Animation's financial slump, which saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules each stop around the $100 million mark domestically, a far cry from the highs of Aladdin and The Lion King. With $121 million, Mulan was still around $20 million short of the tallies of Beauty and the Beast, extremely impressive in 1991, and Pocahontas, considered disappointing in 1995. The film received a single nomination from the Academy Awards (Original Musical or Comedy Score) and two from the Golden Globes (Original Score and Original Song), winning none of the above. Mulan dominated the Annie Awards honoring animation, though it's important to note that fellow 1998 releases, Pixar's A Bug's Life and DreamWorks' Antz and The Prince of Egypt, were relegated to the following year's ceremony, pitting Mulan against the lesser competition of Anastasia and direct-to-video premieres.

The significance of IMDb user ratings is easily questioned, but Mulan's respectable 7.3 average notably puts it ahead of the other late-'90s Disney cartoons: Pocahontas (6.3), Hunchback (6.7), Hercules (7.0), and even Tarzan (7.0). All that says is that Mulan garners more respect
from the predominantly male young adult votership of that invaluable online film resource (though the rating is also backed up by weight, with Mulan having drawn far more votes than all of those other late-'90s releases).

It's still in a different league from the big four Renaissance musicals: The Little Mermaid (7.5), Aladdin (7.9), Beauty and the Beast (8.0), and The Lion King (8.4). That may be as much of a product of its timing and impact; there's no doubt those four earlier films reached and touched more people than any others of this era. They also all best Mulan in head-to-head battle by almost any measure, most importantly, comedy, music, characters, and story. From my experiences, I would say that IMDb's ratings slightly overstate Mulan's estimation within the Disney fan community. There's love for it, like most of Disney's animated films, but it doesn't stand out from its nearest contemporaries in the obvious ways (merchandise, theme park presence), aside from the heroine's questionable inclusion among the Disney Princesses. Its approval from those who don't consider themselves Disney fans seems a likely factor.

Mulan was the last of the '90s musicals to get any follow-up, with America having to wait until 2005 for Mulan II. Inevitably, Mulan's Blu-ray debut today finds the two films sharing a Blu-ray and each also getting a DVD in a 3-Disc Special Edition 2 Movie Collection combo pack which is designated the original film's 15th Anniversary Edition (feeling old now?).

By 2005, the age of the Disney direct-to-video sequel was winding down and the technical criticisms against the early efforts were losing traction, as the studio devoted more time, effort, and money to such productions. Still, one all-important question remained: "Why bother?" And though press materials and bonus features could claim a desire to spend more time in a compelling universe with treasured characters, the business model's more believable answer was that, with little effort and heavy marketing, popular brands could generate huge profit for Disney and its shareholders.

Those claiming that it was short-sighted plan that could damage brands more than benefit them seem to have been proven right, with Disney having gotten out of that game and the sequels already having faded from pop culture's consciousness, sellable now only as bonus features.

As far as Disney's sequels go, Mulan II is one of the more harmless. Taking place a month after the events of the original film, General Shang is about to pop the big question to Mulan. Their engagement would be cause for celebration, except that Mushu learns marriage will bring an end to his companionship to Mulan. As her ancestors explain, the dragon will be out of a job, having to turn in his pedestal in deference to Shang's ghostly ancestors.

Mulan teaches China's youth in the musical number "Lesson Number One" from "Mulan II." The Emperor's princess daughters wanna be like other girls!

Also of concern is the fact that Mulan and Shang discover all these differences between them. Meanwhile, the two of them and the gang of three comic warriors Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po are to escort three princesses to a nearby kingdom where they are arranged to be strategically married. Three guys, three girls... can you figure out where this is going?

As is often the case for Disney sequels, Mulan II is lighter than its predecessor in every way. There is less art, less power, less comedy, less action, less conflict, lesser music. It's casually diverting and the animation is much improved from the Saturday morning standards with which this line began. But it's still basically a watered-down version of the original film with a much thinner story.

Most of the original Mulan voice cast returned for this sequel, with one glaring exception: Eddie Murphy. Mark Moseley puts on blackvoice, something that could only be acceptable in animation. It's little surprise Murphy didn't return, seeing as how he had just been paid $10 million to record lines for Shrek 2, a sum certainly not feasible in this production's modest budget. Moseley was no stranger to sounding like Murphy; he had already voiced Mushu for Kingdom Hearts and on "House of Mouse" and he would also play Donkey in the Shrek sequel video games.

Watch a clip from Mulan:

Mulan & Mulan II: 3-Disc Special Edition 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.66:1 & 1.78:1 Widescreen (DVDs Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English); DVDs: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish; Blu-ray only: English, Portuguese
Most Extras Subtitled; DVD Film and Extras Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 12, 2013 / Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 2 DVD-9s)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in new 2 Movie Collection DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video: Mulan, Mulan II
Mulan previously released as 2-Disc Special Edition DVD (October 26, 2004) and Limited Issue/Gold Classic Collection DVD (November 9, 1999); Mulan II previously released on DVD (February 1, 2005)


Mulan looks just about perfect on Blu-ray. In the history of the universe and even cinema, 1998 isn't far from today, but it's far enough to assume you'll spot some signs of aging in film. Not so here. The 1.66:1 picture is immaculate, boasting sharpness, colors, and detail to rival today's new films and the most meticulous of Disney's Diamond Edition restorations. The results maybe aren't too surprising for Disney animation Blu-ray collectors, but they are positively delightful nonetheless. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is brimming with life, showcasing music, effects, and dialogue with tremendous clarity and consistency. Don't expect to see Mulan looking or sounding better on Blu-ray; it just doesn't seem possible.

In 1.78:1, Mulan II also achieves perfection, its recent animation clearly treated to direct digital transfer. Its visuals aren't as striking, but they stay sharp and appealing. Similarly, the sequel's DTS-HD master audio lacks the impact of the predecessor's mix, but does just fine on its own merits.

Mushu's song "Keep 'Em Guessing" is among the original film's deleted scenes. Mulan's Fun Facts dispense production information with a sense of humor. Years before the film was released, it was teased with concept art in presentation reels.


As the only one of the late-'90s films Disney went back to give a two-disc set to, Mulan has a sturdy collection of bonus features that are mostly carried over here, all of them remaining in standard definition.

First up is an audio commentary by producer Pam Coats and directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. Their track is full of information and void of lulls. They stay in the moment, discussing the animation, songs, designs, staging, and Chinese culture on display.

Seven deleted scenes (22:35) are presented in story reel form with introductions by director Tony Bancroft. The cuts include the jazzy Mushu song "Keep 'Em Guessing",
a shadow puppet prologue and other alternate openings.

Classic Backstage Disney holds many making-of videos. They begin with "Mulan's Fun Facts" (2:13), which might sound like a feature film playback enhancement. Instead, it applies the witty Pop-Up Video treatment to a short reel of behind-the-scenes footage while "True to Your Heart" plays.

Four items appear under The Journey Begins. "Discovering Mulan" (6:48) focuses on the crew's 1994 research trip to China, with trip clips and reflections. "The Ballad of Hua Mulan" (5:18) serves up the ancient poem on which the film is based, read by Ming-Na Wen over concept art. The section closes with scored early presentation reels from 1995 (2:20) and 1996 (1:59) teasing the film with storyboards and design art, respectively.

This split-screen comparison shows that Mushu held up a stone dragon's head in storyboard form much like in the final film. The Matchmaker scene is shown in story sketch and other stages of completion. Here come the Huns in 1998's state-of-the-art CGI!

In Story Artists' Journey, "Finding Mulan" (7:04) analyzes Mulan's character. A storyboard to final film comparison (1:24) lets you watch a Mushu scene from the film in its finished form, in storyboard form, or, most logically, a split-screen comparison.

Design supplies no galleries, but three short featurettes making prominent use of concept art. "Art Design" (5:33) addresses the film's style and its visual influences. "Character Design" (3:47) reflects on the looks of the film's personalities. "Ballad of Color" (4:27) waxes on the film's color palette.

Production presents two sequences from the film in a number of stages of completion, along with a couple of introductions by art director Ric Sluiter. Since each of the eight clips runs around a minute, some "Play All" options ought to have been included.

Digital Production holds two short clips. "The Hun Charge" (4:50) dissects the technical demands of one the film's biggest, most CG-intensive set piece. "Digital Dim Sum" (4:01) explains how computers were used to populate crowds and create a "Faux Plane" effect.

It's okay not to understand a word Jackie Chan says in his Mandarin cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You." A teenaged Christina Aguilera appears in settings inspired by the film for her "Reflection" music video. Nick Lachey and his boy band 98 Degrees stay true to your heart in this amusingly dated music video.

Finally, Classic Music & More opens with five music videos (which per Disney's curious practices, are the only unsubtitled extras on the disc). It's interesting to compare the rear cover to the 2004 DVDs and see what artists Disney thought most worthy of mentioning from this group (Stevie Wonder and 98° are apparently bigger draws than Raven these days).

Movie star Jackie Chan performs a Mandarin cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" (3:18), complementing his modest singing abilities with the jumps, kicks, and fast hand action displays you'd expect.

In between Mickey Mouse Clubdom and musical superstardom, Christina Aguilera performs the end credits pop version of "Reflection" (3:34) in settings inspired by the film. Mexican singer Lucero performs "Reflejo" (3:33), the Spanish language version of the same song, in the same settings, presumably right after Aguilera did. It's a rare look at the globalization of film marketing.

For 2004's Disneymania 2 (an album whose credit remains fixed onscreen), Raven (nιe Symonι) provides an uninspired cover of "True to Your Heart" (3:39) simply in a Chinese-flavored recording studio. Thankfully, the original version of that end credits song is also preserved.
Forgotten boy band 98 Degrees, fronted by Jessica Simpson ex Nick Lachey, perform it in fashionably oversized clothes, with help from Stevie Wonder, while following a young Asian woman around sets designed to resemble New York City's Chinatown (4:23). What a hoot.

"Songs of Mulan" (5:13) is a featurette considering the use of songs in the film. "Mulan's International Journey" (5:44) covers the process of dubbing Disney animated films for foreign regions. Individuals employed on this discuss the experience in general and as it pertains to Mulan, with their remarks complemented by many clips from Disney dubs. A "Multi-Language Presentation" (3:12) plays "I'll Make a Man Out of You" through, with no more than a line or two from each of the dozens of foreign translations.

Ming-Na is back, minus the Wen, to be one of the "Voices of Mulan." The Gang of Three hides from the princesses in this "Mulan II" deleted scene. Directors Lynne Southerland and Darrell Rooney and producer Jennifer Blohm introduce deleted scenes of "Mulan II."

Mulan II gets a smaller supply of recycled extras more befitting of a DTV sequel.

"Classic Backstage Disney: Voices of Mulan" (2:54) provides recording session clips, actor comments, and director endorsements of the performances,
conspicuously Eddie Murphy's replacement.

In another section lacking a no-brainer "Play All" option (only on Blu-ray, that is), four deleted scenes (4:30, 1:44, 1:56, 1:44) are presented in story reel format and prefaced by filmmaker introductions.

Atomic Kitten's music video for "(I Wanna Be) Like Other Girls" (2:41) simply plays clips from the sequel.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for The Little Mermaid 3D and Monsters University. The Sneak Peeks listings repeat those, followed by promos for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney On Ice, Broadway's Newsies, Planes, and Return to Never Land.


Not all of the movies' DVD bonus features make the Blu-ray. But hey, this is a combo pack and there are DVDs, so the features are still there, right? No. Though Disney skipped pressing new DVDs for the concurrent Hunchback of Notre Dame Blu-ray set, this time they do and the new DVDs only offer as much as or less than the Blu-ray disc. As a 2-disc DVD, Mulan was likely to lose features and it does, though not all that many.

All galleries are lost in the leap from DVD to Blu-ray. There were ten Character Design galleries holding several hundred images, three Visual Development galleries amassing around 100 images, a 13-image Backgrounds & Layouts gallery, and a Publicity Art gallery holding 32 images. The interactive edutaining feature "DisneyPedia: Mulan's World", comprised of ten shorts on the film's elements and culture, is another notable casualty. Also gone: the no longer applicable introduction about being able to toggle angles for the production stages demonstration. Included on Mulan's first DVD (a non-anamorphic Limited Issue disc repackaged as a Gold Classic Collection edition) but subsequently dropped and still not resurfacing is its original theatrical trailer. That's a bummer both for fans of Randy Edelman's Dragonheart score and for those who appreciated the use of some rough animation and shots not used in the final film.

In addition, Mulan's new DVD reduces the Blu-ray's Classic Backstage Disney section down to just "Finding Mulan" and "Mulan's Fun Facts", meaning that most of those short featurettes from the 2004 Special Edition DVD will now be Blu-ray exclusives moving forward.

From Mulan II's DVD, "Mushu's Guess Who" set-top game is dropped. More significant is the interactive "The World of Mulan", 7 minutes of information on the Chinese culture seen in the film, which led to a reward of Mushu identifying the Chinese calendar's animals of 1964 through 2011. Slightly out of date now, yes, but more meaningful than the updated Sneak Peeks that can be considered the new DVD's only gain.

Disney sprung for a new "Mulan" animated menu for its 15th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray and DVD 2 Movie Collection. "Mulan II" gets its comparable own new menu on Blu-ray and DVD.


Each film gets its own menu on Blu-ray, which are also recreated on the newly-authored DVDs. They play clips on rolled-out parchment scroll to a loop of score. The Blu-ray doesn't resume playback, support bookmarks, or remember where you left off in an incomplete movie viewing.

Topped by an embossed glossy slipcover, the standard Blu-ray case (DVD packaging is also an option at least from some retailers) holds a Disney Movie Rewards code and a Disney Movie Club enrollment pamphlet.

Mulan realizes that the Chinese army would be better served by a woman than a weak old man like her father.


Though Disney's musical formula was not drawing and delighting crowds in the late '90s to the extent it had a few years earlier, it remained a reliable blueprint for praiseworthy entertainment. I consider Mulan the least of the studio's musical cartoons that productive decade, yet would still easily recommend it over most of its live-action contemporaries and many family films from other eras.

That diverting, if slightly overfamiliar, tale and its adequate sequel will warrant a spot in many Blu-ray animation collections. Disney's combo pack is short on surprises. Supplementally, there are no gains and a few regrettable but minor losses. You'll definitely want to hang on to Mulan's 2-disc Special Edition DVD if you're a fan of art galleries. Still, each film's practically flawless feature presentation offers terrific results and considerable improvement over the old DVDs. While it isn't cheap, particularly arriving on the same day as other high-profile cartoon combo packs from inside and outside the studio, it is a pretty satisfying release.

Support this site when you buy Mulan & Mulan II now from Amazon.com:
2 Movie Blu-ray + DVD / 2 Movie DVD / DVD: Mulan • Mulan II / Instant Video: Mulan • Mulan II

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Related Reviews:
New: The Hunchback of Notre Dame • Rise of the Guardians • Wreck-It Ralph • Peter Pan
Pocahontas • The Lion King • Beauty and the Beast • Lilo & Stitch • Treasure Planet
China: Kung Fu Panda • Kung Fu Panda 2 • The Secret of the Magic Gourd • The Karate Kid
The Fox and the Hound & The Fox and the Hound II • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
The Princess Diaries & The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement • Home on the Range • Brave

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Reviewed March 12, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1998 Walt Disney Pictures, 2005 DisneyToon Studios, and 2013 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
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