Disney 2 Movie Collection'
One of my favorite Disney “princess” movies, “Mulan” makes a triumphant Blu-ray debut in honor of its 15th anniversary.
The House of Mouse's painterly rendering of the Chinese fable also happens to be one of its loveliest animated films, and the 1998 hand-drawn masterwork blossoms beautifully in high definition.
Unfortunately, the “Disney 2 Movie Collection” also includes the 2004 direct-to-DVD sequel “Mulan II,” and no amount of digital tinkering can turn that amateurish sow's ear into the proverbial silk purse.
Set in ancient China, the initial folk tale centers on Fa Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen and sung by Lea Salonga), a tomboyish daddy's girl who longs to bring honor to her family.
When the Huns invade China, the Emperor (Pat Morita) decrees that every family must send one man off to war. Since Mulan has no brothers, her father Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh), an aging war hero crippled in a previous battle, prepares to return to the fray. Fearing for her father's life, Mulan steals his armor, horse and sword and rides off to war disguised as a man.
The tiny dragon Mushu (Eddie Murphy, ably giving the serious story some needed levity) accompanies Mulan on her quest.
Although it strictly follows the usual hero's quest formula, “Mulan” boasts a gorgeous look that mimics Chinese watercolor paintings, a likable heroine and a deliciously vicious villain in Hun leader Shan Yu (Miguel Ferrer).
In contrast, cartoonish animation, boring storytelling and shoddy dialogue doom the cut-rate follow-up. Even worse, Murphy's “Shrek 2” obligations prevented him from returning for the sequel, but the filmmakers actually gave his character (and replacement voice actor Mark Moseley) a bigger part.
The Blu-ray includes 11 deleted scenes, 15 making-of featurettes, six music videos and an audio commentary, but none of them are new, which is a shame since Mulan blazed the trail for future self-reliant princesses like Merida from last year's Oscar-winning feature “Brave.” Even more puzzling, the spacious Blu-ray doesn't feature all the bonus material from the 2004 “Mulan” DVD release.
— Brandy McDonnell