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The ancient Chinese legend of Mulan is reborn on Blu-ray and Digital HD. Featuring Disney's most heroic princess, these triumphant tales of honor and courage will thrill your entire family!
When her aging father is called into battle, brave, beautiful Mulan defies tradition by disguising herself as a soldier to take his place. Led by valiant General Shang, supported by a ragtag troop of warriors and watched over by her hilarious guardian dragon Mushu, Mulan strives to save her country and honor her family.
Mulan's epic adventure continues as she and her now-fiancé Shang escort three princesses to a distant city for prearranged political marriages. But when Mulan learns the women are unwilling brides-to-be, she and Shang clash over their mission. Meanwhile, mischievous Mushu adds fuel to the fire in a bid to keep Mulan single as long as possible!
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Next: I have to emphatically disagree with reviewer Bill Mydo below. -You will excuse me if I spend some little time defending this film against his critique; Mulan happens to be my favorite Disney animated movie, second only perhaps to Beauty and the Beast. Perhaps my being Chinese-American may have something to do with it, as does the fact that I strongly identify with the character's self-doubts. Still, I am fairly particular as to what I consider "good art"; and it boggles and confounds me that anyone would fail to see the difference between this movie and, for example, Hunchback or Hercules.
Yes, Disney's Mulan is very much a western/ American movie, made for western and American- not Asian- audiences. No, they "didn't get it right"; or, not exactly. But I never expected them to, and I give them a good deal of credit for trying. They came quite a bit closer that I ever thought that they would. Nor do I find this movie overly feminist (no more than Snow White or Cinderella are "chauvinist"). Mulan may be a strong female character, but she is not Aladdin's Princess Jasmine. Mulan is not defined by rebellion, nor by what she rejects. Instead she upholds her sense of honor as she struggles to find out who she is and where she fits in. Moreover, in a genre known for its blatant ad nauseum boy-meets-girl love themes, I truly appreciated the downplayed understatedness of the "interest" between Mulan and Captain Shang.
As to the "commercial" aspect of the film; yes, it had its tie-ins and its merchandising. What Disney movie doesn't? But the real issue is the worth of the film itself, and on this I take exception to the review below. I believe there is more in it than Mr. Mydo gives credit for.
The film does have its awkward moments. The scene with the match-maker and Mulan's first entrance into the army camp are both extremely painful to watch- I do not enjoy watching anyone be utterly humiliated- not even a cartoon character (and I do not believe that someone as bright as Mulan would fumble so badly over simply coming up with a new name). I also find it somewhat irksome that one minor character, Mushu the dragon, continually steals attention away from the movie's proper focus. And there are a number of jokes and visual gags that closely border on PG. I found this in somewhat poor taste in a kid's movie.
But these faults are counterbalanced, and more than compensated for, by the scenes that really work. The opening "brush painting" of the Great Wall; Mulan's song (Reflections) and the ensuing scene of loving encouragement from her father; the scene where she decides to leave home; her heart-to-heart talk with Mushu at the abandoned camp in the mountains; the Imperial Palace where she is honored by the Emperor before all China... the sheer artistry of these scenes is breathtaking.
When the Special Edition DVD is released, I intend to be first in line!
In the beginning of the movie, when Fa Mulan met a matchmaker for an arranged marriage, she had to make herself presentable and not only look like, but also be what was considered a “beautiful woman”. She was expected to be the “perfect” bride by presenting herself with pale skin, bright red lipstick, flattering makeup, and a small curvy waist. All, which are physical features that made women distinct, which partly defined what it meant to be feminine. If one did not have these attributes, they would not be essentially 'good enough'. The emphasized physical features that Mulan showed contributes to what was expected for a woman to look like to please men. Clearly, a lot of effort, work, and time was put into trying to get her ready and presentable even though Mulan herself, was not happy with it as seen from her sad and confused facial expressions during this scene. It caught to my surprise, that it is still relevant today, that women still spend large amounts of time and money to purchase makeup and clothing to make themselves feel beautiful with the motive to impress others, such as male beings.
However, when the matchmaker was inspecting her physical traits, she saw that Mulan was very skinny, and made the remark that, “too skinny…not good for bearing sons”. This was the opposite of what her mother and the ladies that helped her get ready tried to achieve, creating essentially a double standard that could confuse women of what was wanted from them. It shocked me to see the contradiction of whether to be skinny and beautiful, or wide and still beautiful, to produce offspring, because it seems impossible to me that one can be both at the same time. It also disturbed me when the matchmaker stated sons specifically. This can be interpreted that only sons were desirable, as if females were genetically programmed to be worthless and inferior, no matter what type of personality they have.
Not only was Mulan was expected to be physically beautiful, she was also expected to demonstrate ladylike traits. She had to show etiquette, manners, and intelligence, and she had to cheat her way through mastering those characteristics by writing specific words to remind her on her arm such as, “quiet and demure”, “graceful, polite, delicate, refined, poised”. She had to disguise herself as someone she wasn’t to meet what was expected. She couldn’t speak her mind to stand up for herself and had no say as it isn’t a woman’s job or business to meddle into the important related affairs. A way she could show such attributes, was knowing the correct way to pour tea. This demonstrates the notion that women are to be the servants of the household to serve the men and be the homemaker.
Later, Mulan made the decision to go to war disguised as a male in place of her sick father. The song, “I’ll make a man out of you” displays lyrics that outlines the traits of masculinity and essentially looks down upon anything related to women traits. The men sang, “You must be swift as a coursing river. Be a man. With all the force of a great typhoon. Be a man. With all the strength of a raging fire. Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”. These could be understood as the necessities of one being worthy to fight in a war. These traits is what defined what a true man is like, that all men who would matter had to be this way. This creates a stereotypical representation of the clear line between which gender is more superior and physically stronger. The traits discussed are none of which the traits were expected from Mulan, or even anywhere like it.
Another song that the men in the troops sang was, “A Girl Worth Fighting For” which discussed what the men individually looked for in a woman. Yao, Ling, and Chien Po sang, “I want her paler than the moon with eyes that shine like stars…My girl will marvel at my strength, adore my battle scar… I couldn't care less what she'll wear or what she looks like. It all depends on what she cooks like, beef, pork, chicken. My girl will think I have no faults, that I'm a major find". Everything that they stated are qualities that they men could use for their own benefit. Yao valued a woman with physical attractiveness, Ling ideally wanted one who would make him feel good about himself, and Chien Po wanted basically a homemaker who can cook well. All of which are feministic attributes to how a woman should traditionally be like. This seems fairly stereotypical and gives the idea that men are selfish and like to use women as objects to better themselves.
No matter how big Mulan’s accomplishments were, she did not get full credit from everyone. Even her own friends from the army no longer supported her once they found out she was a woman disguised as a man, resulting to not listening to her ideas and kicking her out. It was an entirely different story when she was known as a male. Praise and celebration became underappreciated and ignored in a heartbeat.
In the end, Mulan did save China. She demonstrated quite heroic and brave traits to save her people, such as the king, her friends and family, and the citizens from the Huns. She was obviously quite the opposite of being a weak, vulnerable woman which was emphasized throughout the film what a girl is like. That was quite the high point of the movie of finally seeing that Mulan, a woman can do something that important and outstanding. She stepped out of her gender zone and did something incredibly different. Yet, the emperor’s underling still criticized how she is will never be worth anything because she is a woman. This brings back to the point where how simply being a woman voids what greater good and success is done. That it is not considered something important unless it is done by a male specifically.
In conclusion, I feel that Mulan demonstrates more negative messages than it does positive as the discriminatory scenes and dialogue are often overlooked when the creators ridiculed the female gender. The portrayal of the two genders differ through the characters’ dialogue, actions, and attitudes. Rather than displaying equality or individual rights, the film reinforces the traditional gender roles that are assigned to simply being a female. The gap between gender equality and stereotypical gender roles grew bigger and bigger as the film progressed and left me speechless to see how a Disney film, that was supposed to be a positive source toward young children would imply such negativity.