Looking Back at ‘Mulan’, One of Disney’s Best Animated Features

With the live-action Mulan coming to Disney+ next month, I thought it would be nice to look back at the original, 1998 classic. Mulan (1998) follows the titular character on her quest to save China, and while doing so, she disguises herself as a young man to join the army.

The character of Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) is one of Disney’s best heroines. She’s brave, kicks butt, and has a kill count. What other Disney character has killed hundreds of Huns by crushing them with an avalanche? No one. Take that, Elsa, Mulan didn’t need ice powers to take down an army.

Another great aspect of the film is the music. It’s a real shame that the live-action version isn’t a musical. The song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is awesome. If I’m watching this film with someone and they’re not singing that song along with me, I’ll be severely disappointed.

The live-action movie also cut out Li Shang (BD Wong) which is just inexcusable. Shang and Mulan had great dynamics in the film, and they’re one of the only Disney couples who don’t marry in the end. Shang is also a pretty cool character who also kicks butt.

The reason why he’s cut out is due to Disney executives being uncomfortable with a commanding officer as the love interest. This was all in the wake of the #MeToo movement so there’s some justification, but it’s not like Shang’s written terribly. He has flaws like any other character, but he at least learns from his mistakes and grows. It seems silly that they would cut out of the most important characters in the film, and he’s not the only one.

Mushu (Eddie Murphy) is also cut, and I suppose I can understand why. He serves as comic relief in the animated film, and the live-action version will be darker. Still, Mushu is a delightful character and has some of the best quotes of the film. One such memorable line is: “ Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow.” It always cracks me up.

The humor overall is great; I enjoy the banter between Mulan’s ancestors, and Mulan’s grandmother (June Foray) needed more screen time. Another line that I love is when she asks Shang if he could stay forever instead of just for dinner. If she’s not in the live-action film, we riot.

I don’t have anything negative to say about the film. The animation is vibrant and aesthetically pleasing, the characters are cool and fun, it’s an overall entertaining film with a great female lead. I likely won’t spend $30 to watch the live-action film, but I might watch it at a later date. I’m curious to know if the changes it made were worth it.

Hopefully, it’s at least better than the live-action Lion King. That was a mess.

Originally published by Lauren Massuda on April 10, 2020


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