Disney’s Mulan II is a far cry from the 1998 movie that wowed so many people. Audiences and critics alike largely panned the movie upon its release nearly a decade after the original movie’s release. A big part of the reason that the movie was panned was because in the time that had passed between movies, those involved in the creation of Mulan II had more than enough time to make a sequel that was just as impressive as the original. But allegedly, only three years passed before this direct-to-DVD was released versus the roughly five to seven years that passed before Mulan was released to theaters. Mulan had a lot going for it. There’s no denying this. But its sequel has its own merits, too. Audiences need just see the merits in the movie as a stand-alone feature, rather than a sequel.
It has already been noted that one reason Mulan II passed was the ratio of time spent making the movie to the number of years spanning the release of Mulan and Mulan II. That ratio is indirectly tied in to another potential reason for audiences’ reaction to the movie. That secondary reason is that the movie was perhaps improperly marketed. It was marketed as a sequel although it sits more as a stand-alone feature by comparison. Audiences get in Mulan II the next chapter of sorts between Mulan and her love interest from Mulan, Captain Shang (voiced by B.D. Wong–Law & Order SVU). Shang has, in the time between movies, become a General. Audiences are left to believe that the threat from the previous story has been dealt with, as there’s even note late in the movie referencing the previous story. Having dealt with that, Mulan and Shang must now learn about the ups and downs in the potential of life together. So again, while this is a continuation of Mulan, it is also an entirely different story. Had this story simply been given the Mulan title with an entirely separate subtitle, it might have been better received by audiences and critics considering its primary plot. That’s not to say that this is a bad story. Quite the opposite, actually. This is an especially good watch each year during wedding season. It serves as a reminder even to adult viewers about the power of love to overcome the differences that may come up between a couple whether in the earliest or late stages of life together.
The primary romantic plot element in Mulan II is a good juxtaposition to the storyline of Mulan. Hua Mulan is still the strong, independent individual presented to audiences in Mulan. This time around though, this story’s writers offer audiences her softer, more emotional side. The story manages quite well, to balance the two sides, thus making her somewhat more believable as a character. Being that Mulan was aimed largely at female audiences, it was only natural that a story about the relationship between Shang and Mulan followed. If audiences take this into account, it might help to see past the primary issues of the movie being improperly marketed, especially after so much time had passed between each movie’s release.
Having overcome the hurdle of Mulan II’s primary plot and marketing issues, audiences will find one more positive to Mulan II. That second positive is the movie’s secondary plot. The secondary plot, centered on Mulan’s sidekick, Mushu, presents the theme of friendship. Not to reveal too much, but Mushu is the cause of everything that happens between Mulan and Shang. In simple, viewers learn the lesson that being a true friend sometimes means making sacrifices that one might not want to make. It’s a valuable lesson from which both kids and adults can learn. The lesson taught in this secondary story makes Mulan II more enjoyable. Making it even more valuable—even if it was unintentional—was a reference to Aladdin in Mushu’s reaction to a very positive discovery late in the story. That discovery won’t be revealed here for the sake of those who haven’t seen it. But anyone who has seen Aladdin will hopefully get the reference. There is at least one other reference that audiences will get. But that discovery will be left for those that have yet to see this not-so-sequel sequel. It’s one more factor that makes Mulan II worth at least one watch. It’s available in stores and online now as part of the new Mulan/Mulan II BD/DVD combo pack. The new multi-disc combo pack can be ordered online direct from the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/mulan-15th-annniversary-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1331589/1000316/ and at the Disney DVD store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/mulan-two-movie.html.
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.