Mulan (1998)

Mulan (1998)

Director: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook
Starring: Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong

A young woman poses as a man and joins the army in her ailing father's place to defend China from a Hun invasion.

This isn't your typical Disney film, but it comes at a time in the twilight of the Renaissance where they were willing to experiment a bit but were still bound by a lot of the tropes they were known for. There's a fairly simplistic aesthetic, which doesn't necessarily work against the film, but only a few shots really show off the fact that this comes from one of the world's premier animation studios. The computer work for the Hunnish hordes is pretty good bit of tech. The characters of Mulan and Li Shang are pretty good (and I particularly like Mulan's relationship with her father) and Miguel Ferrer delivers a fine performance as lead villain Shan Yu. I'm not a big fan of Eddie Murphy's character, but particularly ever since The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I've railed against kid appeal mascot characters shoehorned into more serious stories. I don't normally associate Jerry Goldsmith with musicals, but the songs are pretty good and "I'll Make a Man Out of You" will be permanently lodged in your brain after hearing it just once. The thematic elements of sexism, responsibility and self-identity are strong if a bit heavy-handed at times. I know Disney's track record gets a bit spotty post-Lion King, but this is definitely worth seeing.

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