Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mulan II Review by Briana Alessio

This sequel from 2004 should show us what happens to Mulan after saving China.  We would naturally expect to see events which happened in the life of Mulan herself.  Surprisingly, we see a follow up on how her life affects Mushu.  In a way, this film technically could have been called Mushu.  Let me explain why.

The film opens with a cheesy Mushu entrance as he is surrounded by the ancestors who hate his guts.  The beginning credits are actually the most beautiful part of the film, as we see the original beauty of the drawings mixed with the gorgeous background music.  We then see Mulan teaching little girls how to be warriors; Shang enters the picture, who is now a general.  They ooh and aah over him like 12 year olds at a Justin Bieber concert.

The couple gets engaged.  Mushu is told by the ancestors that once the couple wed, Mulan will not be his guardian any longer.  Therefore, he will be demoted to his previous position of awakening the ancestors.  He becomes concerned and the selfishness takes over once he decides to break up the engagement. 

Mulan and Shang are summoned by the emperor to visit him, as he has news.  He needs them to escort his three daughters/princesses to Qui Gong in China for arranged marriages.  Mulan is immediately upset by this, since she is determined that love reigns and no one should be forced to do what they do not choose to do.  The emperor also informs them that they must bring soldiers to guard them against Mongolian attackers.  Naturally, they decide to bring the three from the original film: Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po.  Yao loves Mei, Ling loves Ting Ting, and Chien-Po loves Su.  We don’t see a blossoming romance between Ling and Ting Ting until much later in the film, when he finally gets to her heart by causing her to break into snorting laughter. 

Meanwhile, Mushu has set up ridiculous schemes to break up Mulan and Shang.  Eventually he gets to them and they become furious with each other.  Mongol attackers show up and try to kidnap the princesses.  Mulan and Shang wind up on a rickety bridge, which is where Shang plummets to his death…or does he?  Let’s just say that this is where the classic fake Disney death takes place. 

Of course, Mulan is devastated by the tragic loss of her fiancée (ahem), so she decides to inform the emperor of Qui Gong that the three princesses have fallen in love and cannot fulfill their duties.  Therefore, Mulan will take their place and wed his oldest son who calls her “old” and is obviously displeased.  As Mulan is standing at the altar, we suddenly see what appears to be a ninja star thrown between her and this emperor’s son.  Hey, it’s Shang!  This emperor is not happy since his son will still be single.  Suddenly a voice erupts from the golden dragon of unity…which happens to be Mushu.  He convinces the emperor to let the two marry and let bygones be bygones.  He also states that the soldiers and princesses are in love and will have the chance to be together.

Mushu’s pedestal is returned when the family tablets are united by Mulan and Shang, so he no longer has to fear.  Happiness takes place all around.

The majority of the original cast return to voice the sequel, except for Eddie Murphy.  Instead, a gentleman by the name of Mark Moseley took his place.  Lucy Liu voiced Mei, Sandra Oh voiced Ting Ting, and Lauren Tom voiced Su.  All three actresses gave wonderful performances.  Mulan II is directed by Darrell Rooney and Lynne Southerland.  Rooney has also worked on Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure and The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.  Southerland has worked on The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue among others.

Five Facts:
1.)  Judy Kuhn, the singing voice of Pocahontas, providing the singing voice of Ting Ting in the film.
2.)  The ice skater Michelle Kwan provides the voice of the shopkeeper in the village.  When showing Chien-Po the ginger, she skates around the stand.
3.)  Mulan’s family name, Fa, should be pronounced Hua which means ‘flower.’  The Chinese dub uses the Hua pronunciation as Mandarian is China’s official language.
4.)  A clause in Eddie Murphy’s contract for doing Shrek 2 forbade him from reprising the role of Mushu in this film. 
5.)  At one point in the film, Shang’s shirt changes from white with a tie at the waist to brown, back to white, then finally back to brown at night at the campsite.

Personally, I do not find this film to be that funny.  It has its moments just like anything else but there is nothing particularly special about it.  And as I said at the beginning of the post, this seems to focus more on Mushu’s wishes rather than Mulan’s life after saving China.  I’m not saying this did not bring a smile to my face because it absolutely did.  It just lacked the heart and meaning which overflowed in the original film.  Perhaps if Disney had decided to focus on Mulan’s life with Shang and maybe present a Mongolian attack for the two to combat together.  The theme could have been teamwork while in a relationship.  I’m just trying to think outside of the box here.

In a nutshell, this is not a bad film.  It just lacks the usual compassion which we know certainly well that a Disney film can bring.  I definitely recommend seeing it once.  Then you can make your own judgment from there.

My Rating:  2.5/5

What is it with men and asking directions?

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