mulanWhen every Chinese family is given a conscription notice in order to build an army to fight the Hun, a young girl pretends to be a man to save her ailing father from going. Disney was hoping to reach a wider Chinese audience with this adaptation of an old Chinese legend, but it was more notable for its feminist message. The tagline says it all pretty much. Lively and colorful, with some impressive battle sequences, it follows a traditional Disney formula, complete with romance, musical numbers and funny sidekicks. Good story, and Jerry Goldsmith’s music is a robust accompaniment.

1998-U.S. Animated. 88 min. Color. Directed by Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft. Music: Jerry Goldsmith. Song: “Reflection” (Matthew Wilder, David Zippel). Voices of Ming-Na Wen (Mulan), Lea Salonga (Mulan’s singing voice), Eddie Murphy (Mushu), B.D. Wong, Donny Osmond, Harvey Fierstein… Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, George Takei.

Trivia: In the Chinese version, Jackie Chan provided one of the voices. Followed by a direct-to-DVD sequel, Mulan 2 (2004).

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