Shes primped. Shes engaged. Shes back.
Darrell Rooney & Lynne Southerland
Running Time: 79 minutes
US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
Aladdin and The Lion King have each become full trilogies over the last few years, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid have got their own follow-ups too, and last year even saw an atrocious Jungle Book 2 inflicted upon cinema-goers. Yup, if theres one thing Disney arent afraid to do, its dilute their old classics by spinning out needless sequels in an effort to wring that teensy-weensy extra bit of revenue out of tried-and-tested favourites.
Now, with this low-profile DVD release, its the turn of Mulan to get the franchise-extension treatment. Of course, in real-life its a good six years since the original version under-whelmed theatre audiences worldwide, but for the purposes of the tale only a month has passed and Jeez, our Hun-bashing heroine (voiced again by Ming-Na) hasnt half let the limelight go to her head. I mean, she helps win one lousy battle to save the whole of China and suddenly, when we re-join her, shes lecturing the local kids on what it takes to be a great warrior. Modesty certainly isnt one of the necessary traits, it would seem.
This time its those pesky Mongols who are causing problems for the Emperor (Pat Morita), so a cunning plan is devised to join forces with a neighbouring land by offering up three Chinese princesses for some arranged marriage action. And who better to escort them on their perilous journey than Mulan herself, along with musclebound fiancée General Shang (B.D. Wong) and pet dragon Mushu (Mark Moseley, doing his best Eddie Murphy impression).
I have to admit that, settling down to watch this one, I feared the worst. These straight-to-DVD sequels from the Mouse House are notorious for being complete and utter plopsy and, given that the first Mulan was nothing special itself, the early signs were that this was going to be a tortuous 80 minutes. But, credit where its due, Mulan II is actually fairly enjoyable. Most of the original cast are back (with the exception of the afore-mentioned Mr Murphy), the animation is up to standard, the songs are decent, and there are some genuinely funny pieces of dialogue dotted around the screenplay. Most importantly of all, the story works surprisingly well and, despite some cultural grey areas (is it appropriate for a western film set in China to preach about the rights and wrongs of arranged marriage?), its a pleasant enough viewing experience.
This isnt the sort of mind-blowing animated experience thatll stick in your mind for years to come, but you could do much worse than giving your kids a copy of Mulan II to pass a bit of time. Its forgettable fun, but thats still fun.
It's Got: A lovers tiff.
It Needs: A girl worth fighting for. Apparently.
DVD Extras Deleted scenes, an interactive Guess Who? game, and two featurettes titled World of Mulan and Voices of Mulan. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Its not exactly the greatest toon ever made but hey, to match the first one it doesnt need to be!