Mulan II

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A month after the events of the first film, General Shang asks Mulan for her hand in marriage, which she accepts. Hearing about their engagement, Mushu is thrilled for them-until the leader of the ancestors informs him that if Mulan gets married, he will lose his job as a guardian dragon and have to leave her and his pedestal, his place of honor as a guardian. The reason for this is because Mulan would be getting married to Shang, thus she becomes a part of his family which requires her to have his family ancestors and guardians.

Wanting to keep his job and his friend, Mushu attempts to tear the couple apart (especially for selfish reasons, but, officially, because he sees that they are not very compatible). Meanwhile, the Emperor calls upon Mulan and General Shang to escort his three daughters- Princesses Mei, Ting-Ting, and Su across China to be betrothed to three princes so that an alliance can be formed with the kingdom of Qui Gong. If the task is not completed within three days, the alliance will crumble, and the Mongols will destroy China.

Mulan and Shang set out, along with Yao, Ling and Chien-Po (from the first film), to safely escort the princesses to their new kingdom. However, due to Mushu’s interferences and the fact that the three princesses are upset by their arranged marriages and actually love Chien-Po, Ling, and Yao, Mulan decides to go against her orders and, despite Shang’s wishes, stop the joining of kingdoms. One night, Chien-Po, Ling and Yao take the princesses out to a village where they impress the girls with their antics. Meanwhile, Mushu tricks Shang into thinking Mulan is taking advantage of him.

They then go through bandit country. Pressured by Cri-Kee, Mushu confesses to Mulan on what he had done. Enlightened about the news (yet mad at Mushu), Mulan tries to talk to Shang when bandits attack. While saving the three princesses, the bridge they are on breaks, and General Shang and Mulan are left dangling off a broken bridge. Since the rope can only support the weight of one person, Shang sacrifices his life to save Mulan and lets go of her hand, falling into the river.

Mulan then continues alone to Qui Gong. Not wanting the princesses to be forced into marriage, and because Shang is dead, she offers herself to marry one of the ruler’s sons. Shang, who actually survived the fall, finds out about it and tries to stop her. Mushu decides to help by pretending to be the Great Golden Dragon of Unity, who forces the ruler to stop the marriage. Mulan and Shang get married and the princesses are released from their vows, again thanks to Mushu. At the end, Shang combines the family temples. This means that Mushu gets to keep his job, and in his happiness, he accidentally reveals himself to Shang, even though Mulan already told Shang about Mushu. Mulan, Shang, and Mushu live happily ever after.

REVIEW:

Disney has not had the best record when it comes to their direct-to-DVD sequels. Very few of them, no matter how good the original was, have been worth watching. Mulan 2 did nothing to change that tradition, but I have been curious as to what happened after Mulan ended, haven’t you?

What is this about?

Courageous heroine Mulan and her hilarious luck dragon, Mushu, are back in this sequel to Disney’s smash hit. But Mushu frets when Mulan gets engaged, fearing he’ll lose his cherished role as her guardian.

What did I like?

They’re back. For the most part, all the character from the original film return. We see Mulan, Shang, the Fa family, Mushu, Cri-kee, the Emperor, Yao, Ling, Chien-Po, and even the matchmaker makes an appearance. Setting wise, there is no change, so there would be no reason to not see the same people, which would justify keeping the same characters, rather than spawning a whole new cast.

Grounded. Of all the Disney princesses (don’t ask me how Mulan is a princess), Mulan is the most realistic and grounded (although, you can make a case for Tiana…without the frog stuff), so it makes sense that this film manages to tackle the topic of opposites attract in her relationship with Shang. It is even brought up that once the initial infatuation is gone, they probably won’t last. This not a topic that is normally mentioned in your typical Disney flick. No, it isn’t necessarily mature or anything like that, just not something you expect to be covered. It was nice that they took the time to go into the problems of their relationship, rather than magically having them live happily ever after. Just a nice change of pace, is all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with happily ever after.

What didn’t I like?

Attitude adjustment. In the first film, the ancestors were ribbing on each other, but they weren’t complete assholes as they have turned into in this film. Who decided they needed to have a change in attitude, I wonder, because this accomplished nothing, except for make them unlikable, including the level-headed lead ancestor. It was like they were bullies to Mushu, then he helped Mulan save China, and they had to be put in their place…resentfully.

Princesses. First, I want to say that the princesses were a nice plot device and match for the guys from the first film. I just wish there wasn’t such a fallback on the arranged marriage trope. Yes, that is tradition in Chinese culture, but this whole scenario was so predictable and uninspired that it brought the whole film down, especially since it was the major plot point.

Music and animation. It is more than obvious this isn’t a big budget production. First, the songs are forgetful and leave you longing for the masterful productions of the original. Second, the animation is down a few levels from the first film. It isn’t bad, but in comparison it is noticeable. Don’t even get me started on non-Eddie Murphy Mushu!

Let’s face it, Mulan II was made for the sole purpose of cashing in on the tremendous popularity of the first film. However, it doesn’t come anywhere near that masterpiece. The film as a whole is a decent attempt, but the execution is lacking. This isn’t the worst of the direct-to-DVD sequels, but I have to say this is one of Disney’s less than stellar outings. Do I recommend this? No, if you’re in the mood for Mulan, then watch the original.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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