29 December 2000 | Chris Engelbrecht
I loved it...
Ok... I've read through most of the posted comments posted before this about this movie; I find that some people love the music, but think the characters are thin; some hate Eddie Murphy's presence, and think the love story is stupid. Well, your experience with a film is individual, I guess.
That said, I'll follow the trail and state why I loved watching this movie not once, but several times:
First of all, I'm far from being a fan of animated Disney classics. I'm in that age between child and adult(currently 23), where everything is a rebelry. Most of my viewing pleasures is action or its like.
My original incentive for seeing this movie was to please a friend of mine, who has a long-life fascination for oriental culture (read: karate films!). When Mulan was released in Denmark, a single copy with the original voices track (usually all animated Disneys are dubbed into danish with good result) was shown in a local theater. Asking a couple of girls out, we went and saw it. Ok, I was blown away. Before I had left the cinema that day, I too was captured by chinese history and culture. The singing and music I was prepared for; I knew The Jungle Book and Aristocats from childhood. The songs didn't mean anything to me, other than that they were few - good for me. (Some of them do kling to the ear - irritating for me!) I quickly realised Eddie Murphy was on the voices cast. I started liking the movie right then. Some find him malplaced in a Disney epic, but fact is that the business of animating classics is profiting well these years in bringing in already established names to the animations; Tom Hanks in the Toy Stories, Mel Gibson in Pocahontas, Robin Williams in Aladdin, and who else I don't know of. These names sell the film before the film have a chance to sell itself. (The danish producers, by the way, have stolen this idea when dubbing the films, using local media stars for the voice cast.) Well...it did work for me. Eddie Murphy is not as funny in this production as he is in others, but what the heck...he can't exactly use too much harsh language, it IS a children's flick. But with the room he got, his speedy tongue made me laugh again and again. I have later seen Aladdin, and find Eddie Murphy's achievement as funny as Robin Williams'. That Eddie Murphy chose this project was an interesting and probably very clever career move. Later, when I studied the rest of the cast list, I noticed a lot of chinese names. That very much pleased me. Who other than Chinese people to tell a Chinese tale to Westerners? I found some old friends, Soon-Tek Oh and James Hong, people who had worked with Chick Norris in the 80's. Pat Morita as the emperor made me smile. B.D.Wong I remembered from Jurrasic Park, but Ming-Na was new to me (had to look her up in IMDB, was stunned not to have known her before (Ok, I went wow!)). Harvey Fierstein as a ploppy little soldier and Miguel Ferrer as the Hun leader I found the perfect voice-choice for their characters...other names rang also. Anyway, a lot of the above have only value after you've seen the film. When you are an Atlantic ocean from most of the sales pitch, the film had to sell itself. It did - for me, anyway. Before then, I knew little about China and her history apart from things here and there (read: karate films!). Meeting angient China like this totally threw me away. Wership of the ancestors, the power and position of the emperor, I found myself lost in the dream of a world long gone; I loved the image of a China with different traditions but still found myself attracted to the pro-Disney story about a girl standing up to a culture's sexist prejudice. (I do find the plot a bit silly, actually, but I let myself be taken away...it's just a Disney.) Agree, the characters lack a little bit, the love story of Mulan and Shang should perhaps have had a few more frames to play with. The project was a little bit tuned down from the Disney board of directors, but honor to all who worked with it: You people did a good job! The computer animation used for the Great Wall and the attack of the Huns startles me again and again; Not many live movies can do the job as good.
So that's what Mulan is for me...The dream of ancient China and Eddie Murphy's speedy tongue. I accept the term classic. I have the damn thing on video now (English language) and must prevent myself from seeing it too often, in fright of one day getting tired of it.