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Mulan II (2004)

Shes primped. Shes engaged. Shes back.

Directed by:

Darrell Rooney & Lynne Southerland

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 79 minutes

US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U

On DVD

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 there’s one thing Disney aren’t afraid to do, it’s 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, it’s the turn of ‘Mulan’ to get the franchise-extension treatment. Of course, in real-life it’s 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) hasn’t 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, she’s lecturing the local kids on what it takes to be a “great warrior”. Modesty certainly isn’t one of the necessary traits, it would seem.

This time it’s 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 it’s 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?), it’s a pleasant enough viewing experience.

This isn’t the sort of mind-blowing animated experience that’ll 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. It’s forgettable fun, but that’s 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

Alternatives:

Mulan

Summary

It’s not exactly the greatest toon ever made – but hey, to match the first one it doesn’t need to be!

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