Mulan II (2004)

Posted in Reviews by - March 08, 2020
Mulan II (2004)

This direct-to-video sequel does well to unravel much of the magic of the first film, most notably in substituting its original themes of loyalty, courage and honour for a far more predictable Disney fairytale where everyone defaults to heteronormative gender stereotypes. Taking place a month after the events of the first film, its now the sanctity of marriage which needs protecting (yawn). Despite being the ‘hero of China’, Mulan toils in the fields like a peasant worker showing kids her kung fu while her family fret about when she’s getting married. Meanwhile, her boring warrior boyfriend, Li Shing, is promoted to General. They squabble (queue a song about the need to find balance in relationships) and for the want of manufacturing some kind of jeopardy, the two are sent on a journey to escort the Emperor’s three daughters (voiced by Sandra Oh, Lauren Tom and Lucy Liu) who are set to be wed in an arranged marriage. Arranged marriage is quite a tricky concept for small children to grasp, so it is beholden to Mushu to act as a diversion. Without Eddie Murphy, its up to voiceover artist Mark Moseley to accurately replicate the character’s annoying presence from the first film, which he does excellently. Mushu is even afforded his own sub-plot this time around, which involves him trying to break-up the power couple for purely selfish reasons, leaving his only true friend brokenhearted. So not only is Mushu irritating but he’s malevolent too. Fundamentally, the story of Mulan is about the rejection of conformity and – especially – domesticity, and for Hollywood to make it about that does the Chinese legend a huge mis-service.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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