This week, we watched Mulan II, the sequel to the 1998 film. Though the original film was based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan and her experience masquerading as a man, this film focuses on an original story, with more emphasis on her romance with Li Shang. Much of the voice cast returns for this sequel, with the notable exception of Eddie Murphy, who played Mushu. This time around, Mushi is played by Mark Moseley, a voice double and impressionist for several celebrities, with Murphy among them.
This story takes place a month or so after the events of the original. Mulan is a famous heroine across the country and she and Li Shang are engaged to be married. This is much to the dismay of Mushu who will lose his much-loved position as guardian of Mulan’s ancestors if the marriage takes place. This leads Mushu to devise a master plan to break up the happy couple so he can keep his job and, by Mushu’s logic, Mulan’s happiness.
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Though reviews of Mulan II are generally negative, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. For starters, the performances all feel consistent with those of the first film, including Moseley as Mushu who does an impeccable job. The soundtrack, though less memorable, is also impressive, particularly for a DisneyToon production. The main issue, however, is the uninspired story. This is true particularly in regards to the characterization of Mushu. As I said before, Moseley puts in a fine performance and he does his best with what he is given. Unfortunately, what he is given is not at all good. Mushu’s actions in this film make him a completely unlikeable character, which is only made worse by the film spending so much time on him. Not only are his actions uncharacteristic of the fun-loving sidekick we know from the original, but he makes other characters unlikeable as well by bringing out the worst in them. This makes segments of the film simply unpleasant to watch. Setting aside the Mushu problem, the rest of the film is a fairly innocent outing. Young kids will no doubt enjoy the film and though, adults will be more critical, there is fun to be had here.
As someone who likes, but not loves the original Mulan, I wasn’t the target audience for this film to begin with and yet was not as disappointed as I expected to be. For fans of the first film, I would say that this is worth a watch.
Next week, we will be watching Tarzan II. As always, happy watching!
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