Disney continues their efforts to release every movie in high definition with a 3-Disc Special Edition of "Mulan" and "Mulan II." "Mulan" comes to us in a 15th Anniversary Edition which features Disney's Enhanced High Definition Picture and Sound. Interest in Mulan has been sparked once again by her appearance in the hit television show "Once Upon a Time." This 2-movie collection will fill in the origins of the character for those who don't already know it.
In the first movie, a young Chinese maiden named Mulan disguises herself to take the place of her physically weak father. He's been called on to serve in the Army and fight the invading Huns. Her ancestors order a disgraced dragon named Mushu to join Mulan and stop her from executing her plan. He soon discovers she isn't easily discouraged and decides to assist the determined girl in her endeavors.
Although she isn't considered royalty by birth or marriage, Mulan has been inducted into the ranks of Disney Princesses. She most certainly earned it through the movie's box office success. It won several awards and was nominated for others, including an Oscar for Original Music Score.
The animation for the film is beautiful and captivating. It's at one time bright and cheerful while at others dark and bleak. I also enjoy how it resembles classic Disney films while holding its own unique Chinese flavor.
"Mulan II" has recently engaged General Li Shang and our heroine heading off on a secret mission to lead three princesses to Chang'an, China. That's not the only obstacle to their "happily ever after" they have to overcome. Mushu the Dragon is not pleased. If she marries Shang he will lose his guardian job. He must find a way to stop the wedding. Meanwhile, Mulan has her hands full helping the princesses escape their fate of marrying the Gang of Three who they don't love. A Mongolian attack and an unhappy Emperor further complicate things for Mulan and Shang.
Just like all of Disney's straight-to-video releases, "Mulan II" suffers from a lower budget and quicker production turn-around. For the most part, the animation captures the characters and their visual appearances rather well. However, the coloring is duller than the original and the animation isn't as smooth. It's obvious this was added to the release as a sort of bonus feature.
The audio and video transfer for the original "Mulan" is spectacular. The picture is clean and the colors make everything jump out at you off the screen. The 5.1 surround sound mix will submerge the home theater audience into the world of ancient China complete with galloping horses, audible dialogue, and a lush musical score.
Consumers will be happy with the special features contained in this 3-Disc collection. Bonus material for "Mulan" includes audio commentary by Producer Pam Coats and directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. There are also 11 deleted scenes, Classic Backstage Disney featurettes, music videos, and other Classic Music & More material. Bonus content for "Mulan II" includes a featurette entitled "Voices of 'Mulan'," deleted scenes and a music video for "I Wanna Be Like Other Girls" by Atomic Kitten.
This 2-movie collection cast the spotlight back on a Disney Princess that gets overlooked by many. It not only serves as an entertaining animated movie for people to enjoy, but a lesson on the history and culture of China. It's an opportunity to get educated and have fun at the same time.