Back in 1998, I was mesmerized by the story, visuals and music of the film Mulan. It is still one of my favorite Disney animated films of all time. And for the first time, Mulan is on Blu-ray (TM)/DVD combo pack, debuting March 12th! The animation looks better than ever, and the title is combined with Mulan II.
Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) is told early in the film that "You will never bring your family honor" by a female matchmaker after an amusing scene where Mulan inadvertently lights the matchmaker's bottom on fire. Honor is a recurring theme throughout the film. This scene leads to Disney's loveliest songs, "Reflection" by Lea Salonga, the singing voice of Mulan (the soundtrack is also one of my favorites in the Disney collection).
Mulan wants to bring honor to her family, and when her elderly father is called up to fight in the army when the Huns invade, she decides to take his place. The pivotal moment where Mulan makes this choice, cutting her hair and dressing like a man in the army is one of determination and strength. And we soon learn that her fate – if found out that she's a woman – could potentially be death.
There is always comic relief in Disney films, and tiny Mushu the dragon provides it here. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, he tells her that he's been sent by her ancestors (even though they forbid him to go). Mushu attempts to help her become a warrior – poorly.
Mulan is unsure that she is up to the task of fighting, but one of the finest sequences in the film shows Mulan's resolution after she is told to go home. One of the film's strongest songs, "Be a Man", is sung by Donny Osmond (the singing voice of Li Shang, who is otherwise voiced by BD Wong).
Li Shang is a handsome warrior, and he eventually discovers Mulan is a woman. As he draws the sword toward her, he throws it in the snow and says "A life for a life".
Mulan earns honor for herself and her family, and she earns a man in Shang when he tells her "You fight good". The emperor does have to give him a little nudge, telling Shang, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all".
Mulan is a simply a joy to watch. The film is funny, touching, visually stunning (the cherry blossoms in an opening scene with her father are exquisite), and the music…well, these are some of my favorite songs that Disney films have to offer. Some of the sequences in the film, like "Be a Man", I just can play over and over. I never let that scene go through without repeating at least once!
I will have a review of Mulan II up soon – but I recommend picking up Mulan with Mulan II on Blu-ray (TM). This is one of my animated favorites, and I'm so glad to have it in our collection now (along with The Hunchback of Notre Dame Collection, and Brother Bear Collection – both released at the same time).