Mulan II

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Rating: G

Starring:
Ming-Na as Fa Mulan
B.D. Wong as Captain Li Shang
Jillian Henry as Sha-Ron
Pat Morita as Emperor
Mark Moseley as Mushu
George Takei as First Ancestor
Harvey Fierstein as Yao
Gedde Watanabe as Ling
Jerry Tondo as Chien-Po
Lucy Liu as Mei
Sandra Oh as Ting-Ting
Lauren Tom as Su
Frank Welker as Crikee
Soon-Tek Oh as Fa Zhou
June Foray as Grandma Fa
Freda Foh Shen as Fa Li
Miriam Margolyes as Matchmaker
Michelle Kwan as Shopkeeper

Special Features:
Voices of Mulan, a star-studded feature highlighting the voice cast

Deleted Scenes

“The World of Mulan”, a fun-filled tour of China’s rich history and culture

“Mushu’s Guess Who” game

“(I Wanna Be) Like Other Girls” Animated Music Video, performed by Atomic Kitten

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 79 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“The magnificent legend of Mulan continues in an all-new movie that “captures the magic of the original,” says Geoffrey Kleinman of DVD Talk. The beautiful and courageous heroine is back, along with her hilarious guardian dragon Mushu, for more excitement and adventure. After saving her nation from the evil Huns, the spirited Mulan gets the surprise of her life when General Shang asks for her hand in marriage. Before the wedding, however, Mulan and Shang must complete a dangerous mission as they escort three princesses, Ting-Ting, Mei, and Su, to a distant city. The future of China hangs in the balance when, in the middle of their journey, Mulan and Shang clash over their duties. Breathing fire into all this mayhem is the mischievous Mushu, who wants to keep Mulan single as long as possible in order to keep his cushy job as her guardian dragon. Featuring irresistible new music and great wall-to-wall laughs, Mulan II is “timelessly fun and touching. You’ll want to watch it again and again,” raves Tony Toscano of Talking Pictures.”

Mulan II is rated G.

The Movie:
I thoroughly enjoyed Mulan when it first hit theaters, so I was hopeful that Mulan II would be at least as good as its predecessor. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case but it still manages to be mildly entertaining. Almost all of the original cast is back, along with a few new characters, and they are expanded on from the previous film. The final result is a fun little adventure that kids will love probably more than adults.

The first film had a strong soundtrack with a number of memorable songs. You had “Reflection”, “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You”, and “True To Your Heart”. The sequel sadly lacks anything that compares to those songs. The best of the lot is “(I Wanna Be) Like Other Girls”. It’s a spirited song that men will find themselves embarrassed to hum to. It is sung by the three new characters of the film – the Emperor’s daughters. The story focuses on them and their decision to agree to an arranged marriage more than Mulan herself. Fortunately they fit well with the returning characters from the previous movie.

That leads to my main problem with this story. It seems to trample on Chinese culture and values. Arranged marriages were perfectly acceptable in this time and place, yet Mulan II goes out of its way to denounce them. They make arranged marriages look like an abominable thing. While they aren’t something I personally would want to be involved with, they are a part of Chinese culture. For a film to claim to celebrate China and the turn around and say a major part of that culture is bad would seem to me to be offensive to the Chinese. It comes across like Disney is imposing Western values on the Chinese. That makes Mulan II a little hard to enjoy.

All that aside, though, the returning voices again do an excellent job. Ming-Na returns as Fa Mulan. She gives the character the spirit that she deserves. You also have B.D. Wong again as Captain Li Shang along with Pat Morita as the Emperor, George Takei as First Ancestor, and Harvey Fierstein as Yao. Eddie Murphy ditched this sequel and now impersonating him is Mark Moseley as Mushu. He does a pretty good job of it, too. In fact, most people probably won’t even notice it’s not Murphy. Lucy Liu also joins that cast as Mei, the Emperor’s daughter. There’s even a brief cameo by Michelle Kwan as a Shopkeeper.

The animation in the film is pretty good. It is better that TV cartoon quality but not as good as Disney’s other feature films. There also isn’t any show stopping scene like the Hun charge in the first film. Pair the average animation with a predictable plot and you ultimately have a mediocre film which is what this is.

Despite the adult gripes, I think kids will get a big kick out of Mulan II. Girls will probably enjoy it more than boys, but there is a little something here for everyone. Adults will probably like the fact that it will keep kids busy for 79 minutes more than anything else.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included with this DVD:

Voices of Mulan – This short featurette contains interviews with most of the cast and crew. They interview Ming Na, Gedde Watanabe, Pat Morita, and Jerry Tondo among others. (They don’t talk with Lucy Liu or Harvey Fierstein.) This feaurette also seems to go out of its way to avoid mentioning the fact that Eddie Murphy hasn’t returned.

Deleted Scenes – There are four deleted scenes and they are all introduced by the directors and the producer. One features an alternate opening where Mulan and Shang infiltrate an enemy camp to get a scroll and then must fight their way out again to escape. It’s a much more enjoyable and action packed opening. At least it would have had more action for the boys to enjoy. The rest of the deleted scenes show the Emperor’s daughters conspiring to trick the guards into thinking they liked them so that they can sneak away to the local village. These scenes made the girls seem a lot more cruel and unsympathetic. Removing these scenes was definitely a good move.

“The World of Mulan” – In this feature Mushu explains Chinese food, the Yin-Yang, and Chinese culture (arranged marriage, fans, fireworks, etc.) while clips and interviews play. Once you have viewed all the features, you get to view a special surprise from Mushu.

“Mushu’s Guess Who” game – In this game you must guess what a series of blob shaped shadows really are. It can be challenging for both kids and adults.

“(I Wanna Be) Like Other Girls” Animated Music Video, performed by Atomic Kitten – This is simply series of clips from the film set to the music by Disney’s latest teen group “Atomic Kitten”. Nothing much original here but kids will love it.

The Bottom Line:
Mulan II isn’t as good as the first film, but kids will still enjoy it.

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