Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
The 36th animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Mulan is loosely based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the army in her father's place.
Shan Yu (Miguel Ferrer), leader of the Hun army is invading Imperial China and one man from every family must serve in the Imperial Army. The titular Mulan (Fa Mulan as opposed to Hua Mulan - voiced by Ming-Na) is devastated when her father Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh) is called to fight as he is a famed war veteran, already partially crippled from the last war. To stop him from dying for his country Mulan steals his armour and sword and joind the army, disguised as her non-existent brother, Fa Ping. Sent to help her is "guardian dragon" Mushu (Eddie Murphy), supposedly by the ghosts of her ancestors, chiefed by First Ancestor Fa (George Takei). After vigorous training Mulan has the strengths and skills of almost any male soldier in the army, the only one noticably superior to her being her Captain, Li Shang (B.D. Wong). Things, however, are further complicated when Mulan starts to develop romantic feelings for Shang, but knows she can't act on them as she'll blow her cover.
This is a truly memorable Disney animation. The scipt is well-written and very witty, with a lot of great comic humour coming from Mushu. Casting Eddie Murphy as the voice of the 16-inch-tall dragon was a stroke of genius as Murphy makes Mushu over-excited, hot-headed and so over-the-top that he is easily the most funny character in the film. Other comedy comes from Mulan's closest friends in the army - Yao (Harvey Fierstein), who is hilarious due to his being a very strong, fierce and powerful soldier, depite being about a foot shorter than Mulan, Ling (Gedde Watanabe) due to his cocky, tough attitude and constant claiming to be a tough soldier, despite the fact he is skinnier than Mulan, and Chien-Po (Jerry Tondo), hilarious due to his being at least five times larger than any other soldier, and a lot stronger than six of them (Yao included) combined, and also being tough and brave, yet also very relaxed, greedy, mellow and a representation of a Chinese Buddhist - he actually looks like Buddha as well. These three combined have some truly wonderful comic moments and the film wouldn't be the same without them.
The animation is beautifully and intricately detailed to show Ancient Chinese culture in all its glory, and will truly wow you, and (if you like drawing yourself) make you jealous of the artists' creative abilities. Shan Yu, also proves to be an outstanding villain. He is cold, calculating and ridiculously fierce and intimidating - being bigger even than Chien-Po, and unlike Chien-Po is solid muscle. Until Mulan and Mushu use fireworks to blow him up in the film's climax he is an unstoppable monster, surviving an avalanche that kills all but him and five of his best soldiers out of an army of hundreds. And can't be stopped by Shang or Mulan, destroying so much of the interior (pillars, walls, enormous heavy doors) of the Emperor's (Pat Morita) palace with only his sword and his fists. A truly memorable Disney villain.
With this, and a lot of other elements combined Mulan is an outstanding example of how Disney animation managed to remain as fresh, original and glorious as it was over six decades before Mulan with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Stars: Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy, B.D. Wong, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein, Gedde Watanabe, Jerry Tondo, Soon-Tek Oh, Frank Welker, James Hong, Pat Morita, June Foray, George Takei, Freda Foh Shen, James Shigeta, Mary Kay Bergman, Lea Salonga, Donny Osmond.
Oscar nomination: Best Original Score (Matthew Wilder, David Zippel, Jerry Goldsmith).