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Mulan (1998)


Ming-Na Wen voices Mulan in a compelling story of a fight against the patriarchy to save family and country. Eddie Murphy voices Mushu, a loveable talking Dragon sidekick to Mulan that always brings a joke whether needed or not. The rest of the cast is filled with lots of famous Asian actors. James Hong, who is the father in the Kung-Fu Panda series, Pat Morita, who you may know as Mr. Miyagi, BD Wong, George Takei, and others. There are plenty of non-Asian actors and actresses too, it is not a totally correct cast.

Mulan is a giant leap forward for female empowerment amongst the Disney princesses. She trains to be a warrior in one of the best Disney montages, and training montages, of all time. As ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ plays we see Mulan get stronger, wiser, and develop friendships where there used to be enemies. Leadership can be thrust onto you, or it can be earned from respect by your peers. Mulan follows the second, more challenging, path.

The action sequences are enjoyable and delve into territory only a cartoon can. Sadly, there are no animated wuxia-style sequences, but unlike their absences in the live-action version of Mulan, it is acceptable to be missing here. One thing that is not missing is blood. Disney hardly ever shows blood, there is not any when John Smith is shot in Pocahontas. In the big reveal scene that Mulan is a woman, there is blood from her injury soaking through her clothes.

Mulan is my partner’s favorite classic Disney animated film. Her fondness for the film rubbed off on me and I have a stronger affinity to this than I otherwise might have. It has shown me why it is so important to have diverse casts and stories so that every child can easily see themselves mirrored on screen. Mulan is a great fairy tale brought to screen. It has a well-deserved place in the Disney Princess canon. The only disappointment with Mulan is Mulan II and the live-action film. Neither lived up to the excellence of this first effort.

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